Stephen Crisp's Letters Continued
HOW SATAN HAS TRIED AND CONTINUES TO TRY TO CORRUPT THE CHURCH AND ITS FOLLOWERS, And to keep on the armor of light in simplicity and sincerity, as their best armor in all trials.
Written by a lover of sincerity, and a travailer for Zion's redemption, and for the removing of all oppressions from off the souls of those who have believed, Stephen Crisp.
YOU know how that God in his infinite love has visited us with a very glorious day, in which his Son of Righteousness is so risen upon us, that the heavenly warmth thereof has quickened and enlightened us, and made us to stand up and serve him in our day and generation; and the virtue of that blessed life in Christ Jesus being revealed in the souls of them who have truly believed, has given them great power over death, and has made them able to grapple with Satan in all his diverse appearances, and to overcome him; so that which way soever he has hitherto sought to eclipse the glory and brightness of this great and notable day of the Lord, he has hitherto been frustrated in his purpose, and his instruments have been made ashamed of their work: for all that are true children of the day, do find that their standing is by faith, and not by knowledge, and are by their faith kept in a holy dependence upon the power of him that can overcome all things, and bring them under; so that whatever does arise against the Truth, the faith of them that are in it lets them, even in the beginning of it, see to the end of it, and gives them a certainty in themselves, by which they are settled in patient and quiet waiting to see the thing they believe brought to pass; and this is their victory, even their faith: and they who dwell in this faith are not weary, neither do they faint in all the various exercises they meet with by the way, but can endure contradiction without discouragement, knowing that whatever it is that rises up against the power and purpose of God, shall in time be laid low.
And this is the same faith that was once delivered to the saints in the primitive days when Christ, The Resurrection And The Life, was preached unto them, in whom they believed, and by whom they were enabled both to do and to suffer what his will was, and to withstand the torrent and sea of contradictions they then met withal; and the word of God grew mightily, and their zeal and courage grew for the name of God, so that no stratagem devised against them could prosper, as long as they kept in the simplicity of the gospel, and held their faith which they had in a pure conscience. Here were their great fortifications, that made them so prevalent and immutable, namely: simplicity and cleanness of mind; and as long as this continued, they continued of one heart and mind, glorifying God, and building up one another, and comforting one another, and were as epistles written in one another's hearts.
Now, when the devil saw that it was impossible to stop this glorious work of God by all he could do by stirring up the priests and rulers against those, whose strength was in the Lord, they standing in their simplicity and pureness of mind ; then the adversary sought out ways, means and instruments, how to disturb their progress, by drawing one or other among themselves from that simplicity of the gospel of Christ in which they had been of one heart, and had believed and practiced the same things, without vain disputes. Having found some unstable souls fit for his purpose, he wrought powerfully in them, to move questions which had a tendency to draw others forth to striving about the question; then one would have it thus, and the other would maintain it to be so, neither of them minding whether the question itself tended to the use of edifying the church. Instead a great stir was quickly raised, and that about some few Jewish rites, and about some right or wrong descents of genealogies; one would prove it thus, and the other so; and here was a door opened to let in the carnal wisdom to be the weapon of this war, by which the pure innocent minds of many were corrupted, and some whole households subverted; which when the devil had thus far prevailed, he went on further, and gave courage to some of these his high-minded, heady, unruly servants to go abroad through the churches, and preach up these his questions as doctrines, and to seduce and draw away all they could from the simplicity of the gospel. These were so prevalent as to bewitch and betray many; so that they were emboldened to withstand the true apostles in that glorious work in which Christ Jesus had employed them; so that now a great deal of their work was to warn the poor flock of Christ of these wolves in sheep’s' clothing, and to give out testimonies of their own sincerity, and against these deceitful workers, and to open and unfold the mysterious working of that evil spirit, and how it wrought cunningly to make void the offence of the cross, that they might carry on the name and outward profession of Christianity, with more reputation and less reproach than at the first. For this was the design, to get the Christians into a false liberty, and to loosen their hearts from that sincerity and watchfulness which was taught them in the beginning; and to what a height the serpent carried on his work in that day, you may read at large in the scriptures of Truth, and what sad and woeful work it made in Corinth, in Galatia, in Smyrna, in Thyatira, and in Laodicea, and also in Achaia, and what sorrow and labor it cost the good apostles, and how the good spirit was grieved by these things, and the hearts of the righteous made sad thereby.
Yet the enemy had in those days another stratagem as bad as all the rest, whereby he sought to lay waste the work of God; for after the gospel came to spread abroad, and many were convinced, both Jews and Gentiles, many Greeks also came to acknowledge the Truth, who had been great seekers after natural wisdom, and had sought to fathom natural causes and effects, and had studied many curious arts, and philosophical strains and methods, which suited well with their heathenish worship and religion, for them to endeavor to find out the benevolent or malevolent influences of Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, or other of the gods whom they worshiped. But when they came to the acknowledgment of the one only true and living God, the creator of all, and of Jesus Christ whom he had sent, then they found their curious arts needless, and their books fit for nothing but the fire, and burnt in one city as many as were worth 50,000 pieces of silver. But alas! The spirit that made use of them was not burnt in several, but wrought cunningly to bring many of those their tricks and quirks in among the poor believers, and endeavored to make them believe they were such knowing men, and had such rare things to acquaint them with, far beyond the apostles: and then they went to work with the opposition of science, as they falsely called it, and then things must be questioned and disputed that had not a philosophic or natural reason, to demonstrate to the senses or understanding. Hereby was the faith of some made void, and many were spoiled of their sincerity and uprightness by these vain deceits, and then came in looseness in conversation; then a Nicholas with his ranterism;* a Jezebel with her pretended loose and wanton prophecies; a Balaam with his covetous design upon the people, might find some to side with them; for the holy tie and covenant of their religion of bearing a daily cross, that was broken; but alas! alas! the effect of these things was very lamentable.
* [Ranterism is the name given to the sect of ranters who interpreted Christ's fulfilling the law for us, to discharge us from any obligation and duty the law required of us. Instead of faith and repentance replacing the law, they believed it was no sin to do what before had been a sin to commit. They falsely believed that their faith in the biblical record of Christ exempted them from being held accountable for sin, rationalizing that since obedience to the Mosaic law was no longer a means to righteousness, then there was no sin for anything done while in their biblical faith. Their failing was to ignore what Paul had plainly pointed out: the law of God that is written on every man's heart has never been cancelled, Romans 2:14-16. This law on every man's heart makes us feel bad when we lie or steal. This law includes the outward moral laws: do not steal, do not lie, do not covet, do not murder, do not commit adultery, honor your parents, love your neighbor as yourself, do unto others as you have the do for you, etc. Every man will be judged by God according to this inner law; no man is excused from this law for any reason, and it has never been annulled or cancelled. For more on this subject see Until Your Words and Deeds are Prompted by God, You Must Obey the Moral Core of the Law.
Christianity today is very similar to the ranterism of 17th Century England; from the Word of the Lord within: "Everyone is expecting Jesus to be their excuse. They are a stubborn people; their hearts have waxed cold. They think to be saved by making a noise about being saved. They would have no laws. The new law became unrighteousness."
There is significant controversy within the ranks of Chritianity as to what was the doctrine and deeds of the Nicolaitians that the Lord stated in Revelation 2:6,15, that he detested. No commentary has ever suggested they were like the Ranters of 17th Century England because to do so would condemn the then and now doctrines of Christianity; but here we have a clear statement from a saint, who dwelt in the kingdom and presence of God, that the followers of Nicholas were like the ranters, who are like the Chritians today who claim grace excuses their past, present, and future sins — thereby redefining grace to be a license for immorality. From the Word of the Lord within: "They have taken the Bible and made it an unholy thing used to justify their immersion in sin."]
Dear Friends, having briefly touched at these things, and set these proceedings of Satan against the Truth among the primitive Christians before you, I now come to tell you in great plainness and sincerity, what has for some months lain upon my mind relating to this subject, and concerning the day in which we live, and the dispensation of that everlasting gospel which is now preached again unto us, in which we found the very same blessed effects as they did. For when we had believed therein, it brought us into great simplicity, and into cleanness of mind, and into an unfeigned love and unity one to another; and from what parts or countries soever we came, we all spoke the same things, and the quirking, querying, disputing intellect was brought down, and cast out from among us. Though we could query and dispute with the opposers that were without in defense of the Truth, yet we had then no such occasion among them that professed Truth; for we were of one heart, and mind, and judgment, and in that universal love we labored to build up one another in our most holy faith, and to publish and make known the blessed name of Jesus, in whom we had believed; and many were daily added to the church, and came to partake of the same faith, and of the same love, and grew into the same simplicity of mind, wherein we found a harmonious rejoicing in spirit, whenever we saw one another. In this state did the Truth preserve us, and our faith was firm in that name and power by which we were called, that the Lord would go before us, and prosper us in his blessed way, in which he caused our souls to take great delight, and take up the daily cross cheerfully, and deny ourselves for the sake of him that had called us.
But the old enemy of Truth envied this our tranquility quickly, and began to work in some where he found a ground to work in, and sought to lead them from the simplicity of the Truth, and to exalt their minds in the sight of things opened by the Truth, and so did not abide in the tender fear of God, and in the humility of the innocent seed, but flew up in airy notions and imaginations; some into a false liberty, and others into strange imaginations of their own growth to some high state, and so grew heady and unruly, and were hardened against exhortations; rather judging themselves fit to teach, than to be taught, and these drew several after them through an affection that was not subject to the cross, and became an occasion of offence and stumbling to many who were inquiring after the way of the Lord, and a great exercise and sorrow to such as kept in the travail and labor for Zion's redemption. But those that abode in the faith, knew that the power in which they had believed would arise, and crush down and bruise that lofty, airy spirit, and all that abode in it, and did not repent and return to their first love, and do their first works; and according as we believed it came to pass, and their works with which they sought to amuse and astonish the nations, were confounded and brought to nothing; and several that did adhere and cleave to that spirit, were lost and scattered, and grew into profaneness and uncleanness, and strove against the power of God that wrought in his people to reclaim and regain them, till at length the very power of God turned against them, and cut them off who had been the troublers.
Yet did not the serpent leave off attempting to betray the innocent, but found out other instruments fit for his purpose, whom he raised up under pretense of some new discoveries, accompanied with a voluntary humility, and a seeming self-denial, when indeed, the design was to exalt self and man's work, intellect and reason, above the eternal power of God, and through feigned pretenses, to obtain a dominion over the heritage of God, and to impose and obtrude upon them things which were not taught by the living spirit of Christ Jesus in themselves, nor had been received by doctrine or message from the true spiritual laborers in the gospel. By which means the minds of many were betrayed, and they were exercised in contending about some outward signs or tokens of their separation, till the weighty matter they should have minded, that is how to be kept in the love of God, and in the heavenly unity, was in many lost and forgotten, and instead thereof, a secret root of bitterness grew up, and a hatred against the prosperity of the church of God, and the faithful servants and ministers of it, insomuch that they lost the very sense of God's blessed presence amongst us, and reckoned he had forsaken us; and thereupon many of them also forsook us, and were as another people, and were puffed up with great expectations of our downfall, and their own exaltation, and began to spread their design of separation into other nations, to the hurt of many who were deceived by them; so that the tender love of God, that had wrought in the hearts of the faithful laborers and ministers of the gospel, to the gathering them out of the world, now wrought again effectually, to gather many of them out of this self-separation, and with great patience and long suffering, did we travail and labor with many. And the Lord beheld our sincerity and care, and blessed his work in our hands, so that the eyes of many were opened to see the crafty snares by which they were entangled, and power was given them of God, to break through and testify against the crafty wiles of them that had deceived them; and the Lord arose in his great and mighty power, in and among his people, and set an eternal judgment on the head of that spirit, and its work of dissension and separation that it had wrought; and it could then proceed no further, but withered and came to nothing And those who willfully resisted the offers of the love of God, and of his people, they grew more and more corrupt, and perished wholly from the way of the Lord, and the society of his people, and turned back, some into the world's worship and religions, and others into the gross pollutions that are therein; and the churches of Christ, who stood faithful and true to the leading of his spirit, came to have rest from that extreme labor and travail which they had lain several years under, by reason of these things. And God fulfilled the prophecies of several of his faithful servants, who by their faith had seen, and by the spirit had testified at the beginning of that spirit's work, what the end of it should be; for many there were who saw, that it was from the earth, and there it would return; and there it was swallowed up, and all its substance; and as many as refused to be warned, perished with it. Then did the souls of the faithful give glory and honor to God, in whose hand is power and dominion, and he reigns on high in his strength, and is king of saints, and the defense of his Zion, now, henceforth, and for evermore.
These exercises put and stirred up all the faithful to great vigilance and watchfulness, for the keeping the enemy out for the future, at least, as much as in them lay; and those that were faithful and ancient Friends, both men and women, found it incumbent upon them to meet together to watch over the flock, and to see to the conversations of them who professed the Truth, that it might answer their profession, and where the contrary appeared, to deal with them, and to reclaim them, if possible, or else to deny them, and to clear Truth and Friends of them, and their disorderly courses. And in this good work the Lord blessed them, and showed his presence among them, and gave them wisdom and understanding; and they took care of the widows and fatherless, of the poor and afflicted families among them, and had the care upon them concerning marriages, that none might come together in a disorderly manner, but that all things might be clear on either side, and the consent of parents might be obtained before marriage, and that all things might be kept in good order, and savory in the sight of God and men. And several epistles were written from several elder brethren for their encouragement and direction in this good work; for we knew it was God’s work, and would tend to the limiting of loose and unruly spirits, who sought liberty more than sincerity; and sensuality, more than Christ's government, and their subjection to the divine power of God. And when some exalted spirits came to see unto what this work would tend, they took offence at it, and sought to weaken the hands of the faithful Friends in this good work, under pretense, that all must be left to the witness of God; and if people did not find judgment in themselves for what they did, they must not be judged by others, being themselves gone from Truth's judgment and hardened: then they cried out of innovation and imposition, and such like.
Hereupon were many again seduced and subverted, and drawn away from their steadfastness in the Truth, and began to appear against the good order of the Lord's people, and to reflect upon the godly care that lay upon them, with unhandsomely and unsavory speeches and writings, till a secret root of bitterness and enmity got into several that had been convinced; and in this root the enemy wrought with great craft and subtlety, to draw them from the blessed unity that is in Christ Jesus, the true head of the true church, and begat them into many jealousies and groundless fears of an apostasy, while in the mean time he drew them so far to apostatize from their first love and first works, that they proceeded to expose Friends both in particular and in general, to the reproach and scorn of the world, as much as in them lay.
All which was borne and suffered with much long-suffering and patience, and a great travail lay upon many to endeavor the reduction of them that did thus oppose themselves; for we knew our sincerity, and knew that the Lord would stand by us, and bless our work and labor of love, and blast their work of enmity, and that their striving against the Lord and his blessed work in the hand of his innocent people, neither would nor could prosper. We doubted not at all, but he that had stood by us, and helped us from the beginning, would still stand by us, and give his Truth and people the victory over every tongue and pen that rose up in judgment against us, as he has done to this day, and their work is manifest, and they can proceed no further, blessed be his name for ever.
Now, dear Friends, I have made this brief relation of the aforementioned passages, that they that are young in the Truth may see, and they that are older may be put in mind, how the old adversary of Truth has already wrought in this our day, and what has been the end and tendency of his work in all his various appearances, even as in the primitive days, to stop the bright shining of the gospel, if he could, and where he is not able to do that, his next work is to see whom he may devour, that is, whom he may so ensnare and entrap with his subtle baits and traps, as that he may, first, draw them from the simplicity of the Truth; next into an exaltation in knowledge; then, into prejudice and enmity against those that stand in the way to hinder their exalted notions. And by this time he has taught them to break the law of charity, and to think evilly of the upright, and to disesteem the blessed unity and fellowship that is in the Truth, and then they are fitted for schism and separation upon one deceptively pleasing pretense or another. Therefore, how watchful ought every one to be, for the keeping out this destroying spirit, which has brought several already to that pitch of enmity and defiance to the Truth and people of God, that if it had been told them in the days of their tender convincing, they would have been ready to say with Hazael, "is thy servant a dog that he should do these things?"
And, Friends, know this for certain, that Satan is still working, and seeks to winnow you; and where there does remain, after a long convincing, a lightness and an airiness in any, such are easily driven with his pernicious winds. To this purpose he has stirred up some in several cities and countries, such as he knows are fit for his purpose, who never knew a real mortification upon that earthly, sensual wisdom, that is from beneath, but have too much saved that alive in themselves, which God did in their first convincing pass a sentence of death upon; and these, as they cannot reach to a partaking of the life of Truth in themselves, no more can they reach nor attain to the hidden mystery of the unity that the Lord's people have one with another in that life of Truth, but another life and a power they have, and in it they grow headstrong and fierce, haters of them that are born of the spirit. Yes, they grow in wisdom from one degree to another, but it is neither pure nor peaceable, gentle, nor easy to be entreated. By their fruits you may know them; for from this wisdom are they often found starting some subtle and abstruse questions, to amuse the minds of the simple, and to cause the weak in the faith to err, and to draw away unstable souls after them,as if they had brought forth some new discoveries; and then here is work for disputing intellects, by all which the minds are drawn, further and further from the true watchfulness, that becomes those that have such an enemy to deal with.
Hence it is that all those arguments are sprung about the forbidden fruit, what it was, and whether good for food, or not good for food; upon which some have closed with that primitive and first error, with which Eve was ensnared, and have judged it good for food; yes, and have fed upon it too, till their knowledge has grown greater in the evil than in the good. Hence it is that another starts questions about the mortality or immortality of the soul. Another, of the state of the soul after the death of the body, whether it abides a singular essence, or ceases to have any singular essence or being. Another about the state of the body after death. Another about how many bodies one and the same soul may or must have at sundry times. Another, how long the wicked men or angels must endure the wrath of God for rebellion. Another comes forth and says, there is no such thing as wrath or anger in God, and all that is written thereof in the holy scriptures is but metaphorically spoken. Many more such like fancies and doting questions, does this birth bring forth for the trial of your faith and steadfastness in the Truth, by which the enemy is, as I said, trying and winnowing, to see where he may meet with his own, and may deceive and draw away some from the faith and unity, and teach them some other way and doctrine besides the narrow way of regeneration.
Now, my dear and well-beloved in the Lord, you are witnesses unto this day in how great simplicity and plainness of speech we have preached the word of God among you, from the day the Lord sent us forth to this day: we came not unto you with enticing words, we needed not logical nor philosophical demonstrations; for our testimony had the demonstration and evidence of the spirit of Truth in your hearts, and our words, or the word of God in our mouths, has not altered nor changed unto this day, but remains the same as it ever was. The great doctrine of the gospel was and is regeneration, without which there is no entrance; the only means and way to attain it, was and is that light and grace that comes by Jesus Christ, and sanctifies, and purifies, and brings to him, by whom the entrance is ministered into the kingdom; these things have we declared, and these things you have believed, and in this faith are many of our faithful brethren fallen asleep, and their precious souls are at rest with the Lord. Herein, if you abide steadfast to the end, you shall do well.
As concerning all such who seek to trouble any of your minds with the things above-mentioned, or any subtle and crafty questions, keep you your habitations in the power of God, and you will daily come more and more to discern the tendency of them: how it is a spirit that works against the cross, and seeks to cause the offence of it to cease, that they might bear a profession of Truth, and live in a loose conversation without control or judgment; and you will see them come to nought like others before them.
And for the carrying on this kind of liberalism, many strange notions are hatched and spread about to corrupt the minds of whom they can; for the devil, who is the author of them, knows well how to apply them to the advancement of his own kingdom, and for the easing, or rather hardening, the consciences of such who receive these things, that they may thereupon shake off the sense which sometime they had of the righteous judgment of God, and slight the judgment of his people, and give the reins to their lusts and passions; and yet all the while make a profession and outside appearance among the innocent people of God. Oh, Friends! these are the blots and spots that are among us: these are they by whose means the holy name of God is blasphemed, and his blessed pure way evilly spoken of by many, and the hearts of the upright made sad from day to day ; these are such as cost the apostle tears when he wrote, "I told you of them before, and now tell you weeping; They Are Enemies To The Cross Of Christ." These cause the feet of some to stumble, and others to perish from the way of the Lord, and yet all the while carry a secret booster under them to bear themselves upon, having let in a belief or supposition, either that there is no such wrath and judgment to be expected from the hand of God, as has been largely spoken and written of by the prophets, Christ and his apostles, and all the faithful ministers of the gospel unto this day; or if there be wrath and judgment to be revealed, it will be but for a time, and then they shall be restored to glory and happiness, or if they fall short of a due fitting and preparing for the kingdom of God on this side the grave, it is no great matter, for they shall have other opportunities even in this world hereafter, when they shall be born in other bodies.
Some few secretly bolster themselves up and endeavor to possess others with the supposition or notion of the finite punishment of wicked men and devils in the world to come, as where the holy scriptures mention, namely: everlasting fire, the sin against the holy ghost, never to be forgiven in this world, nor in that which is to come, eternal judgment, vengeance of eternal fire, the smoke of their torment shall ascend up forever and ever, etc., as plainly declared by Christ and his holy apostles and gospel ministers, these they limit only to ages.
[* The above paragraph could easily be interpreted to be in complete conflict with the editor's web page, Is there Hope for All Men and Women? Yet, if you read that web page closely, there is mention of eternal punishment; while discounting eternal torture, it specifically mentions:
- people who don't find holiness in this life "will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." 2 Thes 1:9. Notice he does not say destruction of life or torture, just from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power —that is the eternal punishment. There is the Kingdom of Heaven, and the heaven after hell, but a heaven isolated from the presence and glory of the Lord. Stephen Crisp, an eminent early Quaker minister said: "The outward court of the temple was for representing the church of God in general, from the particular; the outward court was not measured, that the gentiles might come in; the unbaptized [did not have the baptism of death by fire, resulting in a circumcised heart] people, who were never regenerated, they might come so far as the outward court, but this did not entitle them to the privileges of the house of God, nor to any worship or sacrifice that was accepted upon God's altar."
- Everyone will deeply regret forever that they did not obtain purification while living on earth, for two reasons: 1) the pain of Hell, that will seem like forever, and 2) the loss of their soul with the eternal loss of the kingdom.
- So life after Hell can be better than earth, but nothing like it could have been. Those living in the higher dimension will have the memory of their sins erased; while those in the lower dimension will never forget their sins on the earth and their evil passions and desires, which became their obsessions in Hell. There will not be the peace and joy of the higher dimension's kingdom; so those in the lower dimension will still be subject to misery and to weeping and gnashing of teeth. Those in the lower dimension will also be aware of those who are enjoying the higher dimension of peace, joy, love, and proximity to God. Therefore, even after Hell, they will be continually aware that they live in a comparative state of punishment, which they will understand to be totally just and fair. They will suffer being deprived of the joys and privileges of the higher dimension. From the Word of the Lord within: "A man suffers with whatever he is deprived."
- Joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit — a permanent joy, beyond the earth's transitory joy. There is an old saying: "you will never know how good it feels until you stop hitting yourself over the head with a hammer;" point being, our life in the flesh, separated from the life of God, is like being continuously hit over the head with a hammer — we are miserable, compared to the happiness we can experience with holiness.
- The fulfillment of the soul's potential is beyond man's wildest imaginations; it offers something to every man that is beyond our ability to grasp. If we fail to become free of sin in this life, when we see what we could have become, we will be devastated. Everyone will be devastated at what they could have obtained while living on the earth; and those who thought they had loved God will be further devastated over what they failed to give to Him in their life on earth, which was to deny their selfish nature, seek his guidance, follow it; thus to then bring honor and glory to Him by producing the fruit of the Spirit. To miss the opportunity to bring honor and glory to your creator, who created you and of all the universe and heavens, is to miss your lifetime's opportunity.
Those who die in their sins will shudder with deep sorrow when they look back at their petty, worthless, ridiculous pursuits while they were on the earth, when they could have followed God's promptings and realized the rewards that they then see and understand, but which will forever be unattainable for them. That sorrow will never leave those who fail to attain the kingdom in this life on earth.
Further, from the Word of the Lord within: "After death there is a sense of regret over their life. Everyone will be known by what they have said and done."
- As the Book of Revelation states, Hell or Hades is itself is eventually destroyed: "Then death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." Rev 20:14. So Hell cannot be eternal.]
Another bolsters himself up with a belief, that if he does evil, his hell is only here in his own conscience, but when he leaves the world, all things will be as if they had not been, and the soul shall die with the body, and suffer an annihilation as well as the body, or shall be swallowed up out of all particularity, as a drop of water into the sea, and so then, what matter. And this is the evil seeds-man, sowing these cursed seeds of fleshly liberty and ranterism, even in our day, and has prevailed upon some to their destruction; and they that are seduced, as the apostle saith, do wax worse and worse, seducing whom they can, by these their pernicious ways, the consequences whereof are woeful and lamentable to consider, and has cost me and many more great sorrow and grief. And truly, Friends, the weight of these things was heavy upon my mind for some time, and it lay upon me to give a warning to all that have an ear to hear, lest they suffer their minds to be corrupted by the subtle laying in wait of Satan and his instruments ; for though I know there are many thousands who know the price and value of their immortal souls, and many who have truly travailed for the redemption of souls, who do not stand in need to be warned of these subtle designs, but do live in that which comprehends the devil and his crafty working, yet I am drawn forth in true love and tenderness to the weak, and such as are not yet grown to a stability in the everlasting and elect seed of God, to exhort them to take heed to themselves, and to be stirred up to faithfulness and diligence, and to approve their hearts in the sight of God, in sincerity and lowliness, that so they may feel his secret preserving power to keep them from these traps and nets of the cunning hunters, who lie in wait to beguile and betray whom they can.
And, Friends, to you who have not known the depths of Satan, I have a few things to offer to your serious consideration: First, you know in what manner you were convinced, and how your understandings were opened, and you brought to the acknowledgment of the Truth; was it not by the shining of that true light of Christ Jesus in your souls, which by its inward working showed you that your souls were made subject to a power of darkness, that had defiled them, and made them unfit for God to dwell in and to take delight in? Then you saw what a contrariety and disproportion there was between the pure light and your impure souls. Whereupon judgment from God was manifest for the curbing, limiting, and destroying that power that had thus defiled the minds and consciences; and when you came to believe this judgment to be the very judgment of God, you submitted to it, as right and due unto you ; and as you thus submitted to it, you quickly found some power to withstand the temptations of the dark power that had captivated you. And did you not then feel your souls somewhat eased, and a hope raised, that as you abode faithful unto that light, you might obtain power to withstand your souls' enemy in all his appearances? so that the faith that was delivered unto you in the beginning was, that your souls should be so sanctified, fitted and prepared, as to become a habitation for God, and that he would so strengthen you, that you should be able to stand against the devil and his power, who sought to defile and destroy the soul. And they that have been diligent and kept this faith, have found it to be a shield and a defense in the times of their trials and temptations: so that they have found victory by it, and their souls have come to know a deliverance from under the enemy's power, and have received ability to serve the Lord, and have felt the blessed freedom and liberty in the Truth, which they so much desired and longed for. Now, therefore has not all this work been to redeem the soul, and to convert it, and change it from under the dark power, and to bring it under the heavenly and glorious power of Christ Jesus? I ask them that have known this work, was it only for a few days or years that we are to continue here in these bodies? Or, was it not the effect of the eternal love of God in Christ, that in him our souls might be eternally happy? I know such as have truly known this travail, do know the soul to be more worth than the value and worth of the whole world, and they are not liable to the seductions of such as would undervalue the soul. But alas ! There are too many that never knew what it was to travail for souls, neither in themselves nor in others, but have received a sight and knowledge of things at a distance, in a speculative way, as lookers on, and these, having grown up into a profession by a sight, without a real work in themselves, are very ready to be seduced, and to seduce others; and lacking the substance that never waxes old, are always itching after some new thing, which for a time seems to be delightful to them, till a newer thing is presented, and then they are for that also, and so are always gadding and changing their ways, till at last they are by the mastering subtlety of their souls' enemy, who has power in such unstable minds, led back again into the world, or into divers sects, heats, and opinions, that are of the world; and a false liberty gets up in them, in which they grow heady and stubborn, and look upon every one that seeks to reclaim them as their enemy, and let in hard and bitter thoughts against them; and the enemy fills them with prejudice, and in that state they seek for the failings of others, and feed upon them as bread to strengthen themselves, and so grow more and more estranged from the innocent life that is in Jesus, and which he has given for food for the children of the kingdom.
Oh! this is a sad condition; and I have often with deep sorrow lamented the state of some to whose hands peradventure this may come, when I have seen what a good beginning they have made in the way of God, and have been as pleasant plants, and hopeful to bring forth much fruit to the honor of God and comfort of his people, and especially to the comfort and salvation of their own immortal souls: and yet after some good progress made in the Lord's way, for want of a diligent watchfulness and keeping close to the daily cross, and the self-denial, have laid themselves open to the spoilers, who have cunningly got an entrance into them, some in the affectionate part, some in the wise reasoning part, some through sowing the seeds of prejudice, and some one way, and some another, and have beguiled them of the simplicity, and drawn them from the sincerity that is in the Truth; and so they have both lost their first love, and their first work also.
Of these some are so far dead, that they have lost all sense and feeling of that love of God that works in the hearts of his people, for the regaining of them; and to such I shall say little, but tell them, my soul shall mourn for them in secret, until the Lord eases my spirit concerning them. But for the rest who do yet retain something of a love to the Lord's people, and have sometimes an ear yet open to hear counsel; to these I say, God has put it into my heart to warn you, that you strengthen those things that are ready to die, before the Lord appears against you for your hard words and hard thoughts; and come down in humility, and feel after the first tenderness and brokenness of heart which once you felt, and hold a fast to the Lord; feed no more upon your carnal reasonings, hearken no more to those seducers that have drawn you from your steadfastness in Christ Jesus, and your place in the body: for be you assured, as your food is, so will your life be; and if you will still feed upon the airy notions of that carnal wisdom, into an airy, light and wanton life you will grow; and if your food be to lick up the dirt and foulness that you can find here or there, and to feast thereon, and then be liable to vomit it up again, as some have done; this will nourish nothing but the serpent's life, which the power of God will overcome. But, dear hearts, sink down, sink down, while yet an arm of love is reached out to you to receive you, and wait in lowliness to be brought into that heavenly house, where there is meat indeed, and drink indeed; and remember that express sentence of our Lord, who said, "Except you eat my flesh, and drink my blood, you have no life in you:" this is the holy nourishment that nourishes up the heirs of the kingdom, into which many are entered, and many of the dear people of God whom you count lightly of, are travailing to obtain an entrance.
Friends, let me use yet one argument more with you, to persuade you to turn into the unity and fellowship of the Truth and power of God, in which you sometimes took delight with us to walk in it, and that is an argument from your own experience, namely: the feebleness that has fallen upon many of you, since you departed from the heavenly unity with your ancient Friends and brethren; what a decay of strength and courage in the bearing forth the several testimonies for the name of Christ, as they were received from the beginning; and by the faithful followers of him, are to this day kept and accounted of, as of more worth than a little outward liberty or estate, or such like.
But oh! my Friends, how is this tie loosened? And how is fleshly reasoning gotten up to shun the cross, and the sufferings that attend the gospel, and an unwillingness in many to give up themselves for his name's sake? so that they are as if they had lost their spiritual armor, and their fervent zeal and love to the Truth, and the testimonies of it, which once were dearer to them than their all in this transitory world; and it is indeed impossible that the love to God and his Truth should remain in its former strength, when the love to the brethren decays. They came together, and they will go together; and the lack of this love to God and to his people, is the ground of declining Truth's testimony, and using indirect ways to shift and shun the sufferings that come for Truth's sake, by which the hands of Truth's enemies are strengthened, and many stumbling-blocks have been laid in the way of the weak; I beseech you to consider these things, and lay them to heart, while there is a day and opportunity to return to your first love, and to your first zeal for the Truth.
And, dear Friends, I might go into particulars, to lay before you, wherein this decay of love and zeal for God and his precious Truth, is manifest in many; but I spare you, knowing there is a faithful and true witness for the Lord, that will, if you mind it, show you more particularly wherein any has failed, and to that witness of God I do recommend what I have written to you, which will testify that I have written in true love to your immortal souls. And whosoever slights this tender warning and exhortation sent unto them in the love of God, will but harden their own hearts more and more, and lay themselves open to the seducing spirits, to be carried away by the subtle wiles of subtle men, who seek to draw from the foundation that God has laid, and to bring you again to trust to uncertainties, and to fill your minds with unnecessary things, and to neglect the weighty matters, and the one thing needful.
Therefore, Friends, wait to feel the daily renewings by the Holy Spirit in yourselves, and that will renew your love to God and to his Truth, and the testimonies of it, and to the brethren that have labored in it for the good of your souls, and to all the faithful followers of the Lamb of God everywhere; and that will renew your love and zeal to the Truth, and to the testimonies of it, and keep it fresh, and give you a sense of the exceeding great value of it, and then you will see that the service of all that is given you, is but to serve the Lord in his Truth; and in the holy faith, you will have a sense of the reward of all, in your own bosom, that you lose and suffer for the Lord's sake, and in this you will have an inheritance with all the sanctified children of light; which that you all may possess, and none fall short of, is the earnest desire and prayer of your faithful friend in the unchangeable Truth,
AN EPISTLE FROM STEPHEN CRISP,
TO FRIENDS IN NORWICH
Dearly beloved Friends and brethren, whom God has called to the fellowship of his blessed gospel, to partake of the cross and sufferings that remain to be fulfilled in the body of Christ. My spirit is led forth in the tender love of God, to visit you with a few lines by way of salutation, that you may be comforted in all manner of tribulations. I write to put you in mind of the great sufferings under which the precious seed has long laid, when you were strangers to it; and how all your iniquities were borne in those days, and the patience and long-sufferings of God were lengthened out for his seed's sake. How many of you were made sensible in some measure of the weights and burdens; and some had power given them to cry for deliverance, and sought it many ways, but could not find it; and that increased the cry. The sorrows of those times were very great to those who were most sensible of their state.
In an acceptable day did the Lord God make known to you, that he had heard your cry and had pitied your case. He gave you a gentle visitation of his love and opened that eye in you, which the God of this world had blinded; and then you could see the gospel shine. He sent his ministers and messengers among you to preach the gospel of eternal life, in the name, power, and spirit of Christ Jesus, whose message you received, being prepared by the inward working of his power. As many as received this testimony, received the hope of eternal life, which should arise and spring up in you through death that was to come upon all that was corruptible. From that time on, the seat of the beast began to fall, and the birth that had its life in the corruptible things fell in pain. The true seed was refreshed, and hope and consolation were ministered to your immortal souls. This hope was the reason for your not being ashamed of the cross of Christ. You obtained inward courage to bear an outward and visible testimony to his name and power, who had come to work your deliverance. You thought it worth your while to wait upon him; yes, you saw no other way for the completion of the good work which he had begun, but to depend and wait upon him. So that he who had been the Alpha of your faith, might be known to be the Omega of your faith. Upon this a godly resolution was raised in you, not only to begin, but to go on, and to hold out to the end in this good work. The daily comforts, nourishments, and illuminations that you received from his hand strengthened and confirmed you in this your godly resolution and practice. By this you grew strong in the Lord, and were as a well-watered garden; and the Lord distributed the gifts of his Holy Spirit among you, and his loving kindness abounded to you. He knit you up together in the unity of his spirit, according to your measures who were faithful to him, and put beauty upon you, and you became a people to his praise.
Now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, it was not to be expected but while all this was bringing to pass, the enemy of mankind and of the truth, would rage and be angry, and seek a time to show his old enmity against the work of the Lord. You know he struggled hard several times, but was limited by him who has all power in His hand, who does still limit him. So far as He permits and allows His dark agents to proceed against His work, and against you for His work's sake, is but for a purpose of His own glory, and of your consolation. For it had been as easy for Him to have kept them in as formerly; but He that has given you to believe in His name, will also give you power to suffer, so that through patient enduring your part in the sufferings and tribulations of the body of Christ, you may plentifully partake of the joy and glory that is afterward to be revealed. For as many of you as abide faithful in the time of these light afflictions, will see a far more exceeding weight of glory brought forth, and shall feel your share and portion in it.
Therefore, my dear Friends, look not out at Satan nor his instruments, but comprehend them in the light of your savior, and you will see them limited as the sea, that thus far shall they go, and no farther. So far as they have power to go, let no man grudge it, but acknowledge as our Lord did in the day of his sufferings, when brought before Pilate, you could have no power at all against me, except it were given you from above. So keep your eye to that which is above all Herods, Pilates, Judases, and High Priests, to the eternal power by which you were called of God, to bear a testimony for his name in your day; and as long as you feel this power sustaining you, you cannot be weary, but rather rejoice. Yes leap for joy, considering the crown of your calling, and that you are counted worthy to suffer for the name's sake of him who died for us, and who is risen again, and reigns forevermore. If we suffer with him, and abide faithful to the end, we know we shall reign with him forever; and not only so, but even in this life, he will make a way and deliver his people, and crown them with victory after their sufficient trials.
Concerning the outward goods and sustenance of this life: dear Friends, observe the command of our Lord, to take care but for one day only, and he will give sufficient for that. For his purpose is to wean you from the visible dependencies, that you may with the more brightness and clearness embrace the true riches. Therefore, it will be good for everyone to reduce all their outward affairs, into as narrow a compass as may be, and to owe no man anything but love, and to let that have a free passage, even to their persecutors. So that with a clear and a free spirit, you may behold all things here below, without joy in their increase, or sorrow in their decrease; giving up yourselves and yours into the hand of God, who cares for you, and who has not let forth the wrath of man upon you in his anger, but for the trial of your faith, which is more precious than gold or outward goods. As for them, the loss will be rewarded in this life a hundred fold, besides an inestimable treasure laid up in heaven. So God Almighty keep you low and tender of his glory, and furnish you with patience, wisdom, and with every good work.
This is the earnest prayer and breathing of life for you all, in your friend and brother in the fellowship of the gospel of peace,
AN EPISTLE FROM STEPHEN CRISP,
TO BE READ IN THE WOMEN'S MEETINGS OF FRIENDS IN IPSWICH.
In that love that springs from the root of life, which has brought forth many living branches, does my salutation reach to you, in which we have our refreshments and encouragements in the work of God, in this our generation. The more your minds are gathered into that living root, Christ Jesus, the everlasting head of all living members, both male and female, the more encouragements you will feel in your service to God. Therefore, dear Friends, though you are weak in yourselves, yet in him is strength; and when you lack wisdom, wait upon him, and he will replenish you, and fill you with his heavenly counsel, to your souls' refreshment.
My Friends, above all things, live in the fear of God, and in love and tenderness one towards another; and let not the enemy that lies in wait to destroy, break the band of your peace; for while you keep the peace of God unbroken, you can communicate one to another of the gifts and grace of God, and so will daily feel a being the better one for another, which will beget a dearness and esteem in you towards one another. In that dearness and tenderness meet together about the Lord's work, seeking with one consent to exalt the name of the Lord, and to honor it above your own merits; and let none seek exaltation, but know this, the humble for fear that and most self-denying, are most highly honored of God, and fit to do him service; and those who are most long-suffering and patient, are most like Christ the head; and in such his virtue will shine, and so make itself known.
Friends, have a care in your meetings, to give due honor to every member in the body, remembering none are useless; but stir up one another to their proper service in the house of God, and let not the foot be troubled that it is not a hand, nor the hand that it is not an eye; but everyone give thanks, that by the grace of God you are what you are. Be faithful in your place and service, that you may witness a growth. In your meeting together, wait to feel the rising of the life, and opening of the wisdom of God in one another. Let that speak and propound things needful and necessary for your welfare, and the welfare of the church; and in that wisdom choose out two of your meeting, to commit the trust and charge of the contributions that are among you; and let them keep a book, in which your charity and good works may be recorded, for the comfort and example of those who follow after. Also choose out one of each particular meeting, and lay it upon them in the Lord, to take care in their respective meeting on your behalf of the following:
- That no women, young nor old, in their respective meetings, walk disorderly or wantonly, but that they be admonished and counseled speedily.
- That no necessities that may fall upon any who are worthy, may be neglected or disregarded, nor delayed, until a meeting, but they may be quickly comforted; so that the enemy who lies in wait to tempt the poor in the hour of their distress, may be prevented.
- That no maids carry themselves unseemly toward their mistresses, nor mistresses toward their servants; but if such things should happen, let the matter be taken up and ended, and not to part asunder with evil in their minds one toward another; for that will spread and hurt others.
- That all women professing truth, and having children, may bring them up in the fear of God; and that they use no uncomely, rash nor passionate words to them, for so that was an evil seed in the children, which may come up, and dishonor God in the next generation.
- That no women Friends may speak evil of one another, nor fall out with one another; nor carry evil in their minds one against another; nor bear tales about, to beget others into evil, and into partisanship, but that all such things may be speedily suppressed and borne down in the power and judgment of God.
Let that woman Friend give account to the meeting, of such as will not receive admonition, so other other Friends may take the care of such a matter upon them, and endeavor to break through the hardness, in the wisdom and love of God.
If that woman Friend has laid out money, let the meeting order the two Friends who keep the collection, to reimburse her; so so that everyone may be encouraged in the work of the Lord, and you may, as with one shoulder, bear the Lord's burden in this day of travail, and also the burdens of the weak, who sometimes are neither strong enough, nor wise enough to bear their own burdens; and afterward, they may grow up to be sensible of your tenderness, and to bless you in the name of the Lord.
So, my dear Friends, feel my love, and live in that from where it springs; and the God of love and life, bless, prosper, and keep you in his fear to the end, to be fellow-helpers with the Lord in his work, comfort and refreshment to your brethren, and to leave a holy, innocent, upright testimony and example to the generations that shall follow after.
I rest your Friend in the truth,
A LETTER FROM GERMANY TO FRIENDS,
EXHORTING THEM TO DILIGENCE IN MEETINGS
All Friends everywhere, who have tasted of the goodness of God, keep in the savor thereof, and let not your minds be stolen away from what is living, for what is living comes from above, and makes you lively, but what is corruptible, comes from the earth, and brings death with it over your souls; and therefore watch in diligence to retain the savor of the life of Truth, that you may live, from a sense that Christ lives in you, who is the seed, the truth, the noble plant, and grows, and brings forth fruit in you.
All Friends, everywhere, who thus keep and retain the savor of life in them, they will come to feel daily quickenings thereby, and will have power over the nature that is dead in Adam to all good works, and especially to waiting upon God with a steadfast and stayed mind. Nothing is so hard as this to that old and corrupt nature which is soon weary. This is that nature which cannot watch with Christ one hour; but let his trials and sufferings be never so great, this leads from watching to sleeping, this has no fellowship with the seed of God in its sufferings, and shall have none in its dominion. Where this drowsy nature stands uncrucified, it keeps you in the weakness, out of the power, and this brings out of the savor and feeling of the goodness of God, and so makes meetings unprofitable; and as it comes through custom to be allowed and subjected to, it leads into hypocrisy, that is to say, into a professing to wait upon God, and a presenting the body in the meeting, and then letting the heart, (which God requires), depart from him, even into the ease and liberty of the flesh, in which the apostle said, those who lived could not please God.
Therefore, dear Friends, in the name of God I exhort you, consider what you do when you assemble together; and let it be in the name of Jesus, that is, in his power, not in the weakness, nor in the flesh, like a fleshly meeting, but in his name and power make war with the flesh, and with the drowsy spirit that lodges there, and in the faith overcome it, and be not overcome by it, for that is bondage. Hold your meetings in the spirit, where every one is made alive, and flourish, and grow in life and in dominion, and shine forth to the glory of God, and to the comforting and refreshing one of another.
For now as any one allows himself to be overtaken with sleep in a meeting, he loses the sense of the power of God, he becomes a grief to the diligent, and an evil example to the negligent, and brings himself under the judgment of God's power in his own conscience, which when he awakens, rises up against him; and also he is under the judgment of the power in the whole meeting, which, when he comes to a true sense of, will be no light thing. Further, if any that are unbelieving come in among you, and see such things among you, that make a profession of an inward power, and an inward quickening spirit, and a worship that is inward in the Spirit and Truth, herein causes such the name of God to be dishonored, the way of Truth to be held in little esteem, by such who know it not in themselves, and a stumbling block is hereby laid in their way, to hinder them from any further seeking after the truth. Oh, Friends! consider these things, and be all diligent in this matter, and let not that earthly part have liberty, but let it be kept in the cross till it dies, or else it will keep and hold you dead and insensible of God or one another. This is what has hindered the growth of many, namely, their carelessness in coming to meetings, and their slothfulness when they are there. Therefore for the time to come, let every one that bears the profession of Truth, be diligent in the work of God, and be good examples to each other; and observe your time and hour of coming to meeting; and set not one hour, and then come at another; and neglect not your middle week meetings, by reason of your outward occasions, for that will not bring a blessing upon your affairs, but let all things give way to the service of God, and then all things shall work together for good to you, and there shall be no lack of anything that is good for you.
So, dear Friends, in the true love of God, have I written this to you, as it lay upon me from the Lord, as a word of exhortation, to stir up the pure mind in you all. The God of power and strength, give you of his might, and of his power to help you in all your necessities, and in all your combats, and strengthen your faith, in which, and by which the victory is obtained, which is the desire of my soul for you all, who am your friend in the fellowship of the gospel.
A WORD OF CONSOLATION, AND A SOUND OF GLAD TIDINGS TO ALL THE MOURNERS IN GERMANY, AND THE ADJACENT PARTS. With a tender visitation and salutation of love to all that wait for redemption and freedom from the burden of sin; with an exhortation to love the appearance of the day of deliverance which is now dawning upon them. From one that seeks nothing more than the spreading of the everlasting gospel, that the meek and poor may be comforted thereby; known by the name of Stephen Crisp.
All of you who hunger and thirst for the fulfilling of the promises of God made to his holy and beloved Seed, in the latter days to be raised, and in the latter age to rule; and all you that have come to a sense of the great oppressions of the just, both in particular and in the general, and feel pure groanings within yourselves, to see deliverance brought forth to your souls immortal from under the bondage; to you is this salutation of my tender and dear love flowing forth, by the operation of the eternal Spirit, by which God works all things according to the counsel of his own will.
Dear hearts, I am sensible how that pure Spirit of the living God is searching out the habitations of those who sit in solitary places, sighing; for the delight of the everlasting gospel which we have read, must be preached again in the latter days; which gospel is Christ the power of God, that opens the prison doors, and brings forth the prisoner out of the prison. But Christ Jesus visits them in prison also; so that it is one thing to feel your spirits visited with living breathings after perfect freedom, and the glorious liberty of the children of God. (This you may have and feel in you, and yet be in prison.) Then it is a further work to know the desire answered, and to know the freedom obtained; and this none come to witness, but those who come to a love and sincere waiting upon the God of power, for an opening in the things that are truly spiritual; which the carnal man, with his carnal counsel and book-learned wisdom cannot understand. Therefore now in the aboundings of the love of God in my heart towards you all in the parts of Germany, and in the provinces, dominions, and adjacent richstadts, I am drawn forth to visit you with these few things so that you may be prepared to meet the Lord in the day which is dawning upon you; so that you might not be as the foolish virgins, contented with a lamp, and sleeping while you should get oil. Therefore this I say to you all in the name of the Lord God of heaven and earth, that a day, a glorious day is breaking forth, and shall break forth upon your nations and countries, even a glory that shall stain the glory of all professors that are out of the holy life of the Son of God, a day of gloominess and darkness shall this day be to all who are established upon their own mountains; but a morning of gladness, with a refreshing dew to all that long for a habitation in the mountain of the Lord, which is rising over all the mountains; yes, this day shall discover the mountains on which every sort of men have fed, and the kind and sort that have trusted therein. Esau, the profane man, has had his mountain, and that a den of dragons. Ishmael, the mocker, had his mountain; he mocked at the seed, and is cast into the desert, with her who bore him. Cain has a city, who slew the just, but was filled with fear, and his plagues more than he could bear. In these cities and mountains where the plague enters, the dragons lodge, the wild beast seeks his prey; and where the wicked builds a wall for his defense, in those have nations trusted. But the thundering power of the Lord is arisen, to lay waste these mountains, to raze these cities, and destroy all wild beasts of the forest, and to bring anguish and desolation upon all murderers about religion, upon all the mockers, upon all the idolaters, upon all the oppressors of the pure seed. In this day shall anguish take hold of many professors of Christianity, whose religion has stood in names of things, and words of godliness; but at the appearance of the substance, they shall fret themselves, and resolve if they can but kill the heir, they shall have the inheritance; but if they should let the heir live, they should be cast out. Now will the wisdom, and strength, and arm of flesh, with its power and policy, seek by all means to stop the spreading of this glorious day, for fear that their high religion which is accompanied with sin, the work of darkness, should be discovered.
However, this I say to you who sigh and mourn because of the abomination and spiritual oppression which you feel: I say, fear not, the day of the Lord shall break forth, and nothing shall be able to stop it, but he who shall come, will come, and none shall stop him. The heavenly manifestation of the life of Jesus Christ, which is the light of men, shall fill the earth, and a Goshen shall be found for the true Israel, in the time of Egypt's plagues. Therefore rejoice and be glad, and let your heads be lifted up, for the day of your redemption draws near.
But now, dearly beloved, I have something to say to you more particularly, concerning the way of the breaking forth of this glorious day, for fear that any of you that wait and hope for it, should be mistaken, and should be offended at his coming in one appearance, whom you may look for in another, as the Jews of old were; and therefore in the fear of the Lord consider these following things:
1. Consider what it is that must be destroyed in this day of the Lord that comes to visit your nations; it is the works of the devil, who is the author of sin, and his work is not destroyed, so long as sin remains. Now the prophet said, the day of the Lord shall burn as an oven, and the wicked should be as stubble. So that if the appearance of God in this your day is in judgment, and burning, and consuming even those things that have been delightful, yet take heed you are not offended by it; but that, (in you), all that is for the sword, let the two-edged sword that goes forth out of his mouth, (who has the brightness of the morning star), cut it down. What God has appointed to be famished, take you heed of feeding it, for fear that you strike against God, and it happen to you, as once it did to one to whom God said, because you have saved one alive, that I had appointed to die, your life shall go for his life. Now God has appointed the death of every sin and lust that lives in your souls, and has appointed his Son Christ Jesus to be the killer and destroyer thereof. He comes to the earthly part, not with peace, but with a sword; and when you feel it cutting off your pleasures, your delights, your worldly friendships and fellowships, yes, your hope and confidence, which stood on a sinful ground, or a ground where sin also stood, you must not be offended at that, but wait in humility to feel that you are the slain of the Lord, which the prophet said should be many, in his great and notable day. Fear not, for he who kills you to what is old, shall raise you up in the new life of righteousness that never waxes old.
2. Consider what it is that must be set up in this day of the Lord that is visiting the nations; it is righteousness and truth which has long fallen in the streets, and equity could not enter; but God has determined to exalt righteousness even in the earth, that it may run down as a stream in abundance, bearing all before it that is contrary to it. The way of exalting it, the blind world cannot see, and so fights against it; but those whose eye is open to mark his footsteps, shall see it is by the shining forth of its own glory. For as it rises in the particular, to rule the whole man in the fear and pure wisdom of God, that man ceases to act of himself, or speak of himself, and is brought to wait upon the good spirit of God, to know what to do and say, as the hand-maid upon the hand of her mistress; and such the pure spirit keeps in a pure conduct without sin, for no man by the spirit of God is led into sin. If any come to live in this pure sinless conduct, this differs from the sinful world, and so shines over the world, and brings a night upon their glory. For this shining and beauty of holiness is answered by the measure of the grace of God in all consciences, where it shines; and so many come to be gathered to the brightness of the arising of this righteousness, and become subject to the love of it. So shall the borders of its garment be daily enlarged, and the borders of the possession of the wicked one shall be daily lessened, and the seed of God shall possess the gates of his enemies, according to his promise of old made by his holy prophets.
3. Now Friends in the third place, consider the place where this alteration is to be wrought, where the kingdom of the man of sin is to be destroyed, and where the kingdom of Christ is to be set up: it is within you that this great change is to be wrought, and a great power must be felt to work it; for in this case, in vain is the help of man, without the power of God. Therefore what leads to the knowledge of the power, you must come to love and to obey, which is the light of Jesus Christ in your consciences, wherein Christ Jesus, the free gift of the Father, has enlightened every one that comes into the world; which light discovers to the soul, when the dark power begins to stir and operate, to lead into evil. Those who love the light better than their lusts, they come to take up the cross to the lust whatsoever it is; and standing faithful in the cross and denial of themselves, they come to witness what the apostle said, the cross of Christ is the power of God through faith to salvation. Then when this cross is thus taken up and self thus denied; then that soul is not without the power of God, which is the ground of their faith. The more they are subjected to the cross, the more power they have, and the more their faith increases; and being obedient to the light of Jesus, the faithful and true witness of God, they feel peace, and encouragement, and a loving hope sustains such as cast an anchor, till God makes a perfect work on their hearts. Here will arise the great difference between your hope, and the hope of the hypocritical world; they hope to be set free from the condemnation due upon sin, but you will hope and wait to be set free from sin itself, which is the cause of condemnation, and to be redeemed out of evil, into the life of innocence, that was before sin was.
Dear Friends, you who have attained already to this hope, hold fast your confidence, waver not, but hope and wait to the end; though the seas roar, and the waves make a noise, yet let this hope be your anchor, for it is sure. Seeing this great work is to be wrought within, and you are to be made witnesses of it to the sons of men, oh let your eye be kept diligently to the power, that you may be true witnesses of his glory, who is your soul's beloved. Oh, keep the eye of your minds, (which the God of this world has blinded, and which now the God of heaven has opened, and is opening), always within, that you may see the appearance of every evil, and every good in you; and be able to put a difference, and may learn wisdom of God to choose the good, and eschew the evil; that thereby you may know that vessel cleansed and purged, in which this great work is to be wrought. For you know while the vessel is filled with wrath, envy, or with unrighteousness of any kind, such are not yet fit for the glory of God to shine forth in. When that is removed out by judgment; and Zion is set free from oppression, then the creature returns to God a pure vessel in the righteousness that was before the fall. So a man or woman may come to Adam's state that he was in before he fell, which was without sin. Against such the judgment of God does not go forth, but they have peace with God, and fellowship in what is pure, before sin and transgression were. Those who come to this state, may be entangled again; as was Eve, and if they do not watch, they may be entangled again; but if such are faithful to the power that redeemed them from the sin, and in the power resist the temptation, then do such receive the seal of eternal life in Christ Jesus, who never fell, though he was tempted, and so come to an establishment in him who never changes.*
* A critical point is made by Crisp . There are two steps: 1) to be raised up to the perfection of Adam and Eve in paradise, still capable of falling, and 2) to be raised up to union with Christ Jesus, an everlatsting perfection, which is incapable of falling to sin. There are records of men, raised to the state of Adam and Eve, becoming fellow ministers of George Fox, and then horribly falling to sin, even the gravest sin, which is leading people out of truth into a separation; these included John Story, John Wilkinson, and George Kieth.
Therefore, dear Friends and people, you upon whom the glorious day of our God has dawned, and have the day-star arisen in your hearts, which gives you a hope this day is at hand; or you that have but a sense of that sure word of prophesy in you, which you are to take heed to, till the day-star arises, I say to you all, in all your states and conditions, it is faithfulness to what you know, that God requires of you. It is those among you who are willing and obedient, who shall reap the desires of their souls; for he who is faithful in a little, shall be ruler over much. Therefore Friends, do not put the day of the Lord far off, when God has brought it near, for on such it will come as a thief; but all who wait for it in sincerity of mind, shall see his salvation and be glad; for the hills shall flee at his appearance, the mountains shall be removed and laid waste, what has been as the world's element, shall melt away with fervent heat, and their heavens pass as a scroll; but the poor, the mourners, and the oppressed in soul, shall rejoice and sing because of their deliverance. My Friends, do not think it hard that you meet with many sore trials, and deep afflictions, for bearing witness to the light of the glorious day of God; for all your cruel sufferings, your cruel mockings, and your heavy and grievous reproaches, shall tend to the furtherance of the gospel; for thereby are the hearts of many opened, to inquire concerning you. As they come to look towards you by way of inquiry, then let them see nothing of you but meekness, love to enemies, patience, and an assured hope. This will win many to the love of your life, and will daunt your foes, and in time make them hopeless of extinguishing your light again; for after this manner have we in England been exercised from the beginning. Nevertheless the gospel abundantly flourishes, and the light and splendor of it breaks forth; and many are daily converted to the faith, and made partakers of the heavenly grace of God, and joy of his salvation with us; and we have great encouragement, both by the feeling life and power, and presence of God with us, and in us daily, and also by the fruit of our labors, which we see daily coming up to our joy. This I say, that you also who have believed, may be encouraged, that this day of the Lord, and dispensation of the light of his Son Jesus Christ arisen and manifested in and among the people called Quakers, shall never be extinguished or brought to an end, but shall spread through yours and all countries; and blessed are those who can receive it. This I have received from the Lord, therefore be strong in his might, and conduct yourselves like men; be faithful to the death, and Christ shall give you a crown of life. My heart is full and abounds with love to you all, and to the whole regions round about you, to whom I send this as the salutation of my love and tender greeting, in the feeling of the mercies of God that are breaking forth to you that mourn and are afflicted, and wait for redemption.
Now my prayer to God is, that this my love may have acceptance among you, and that you all may consider how clean you must be made, before you can be vessels in the house. So I do remain in the covenant of God, in the communion of saints, and in the earnest expectation of the redemption of Zion's oppressed seed, for the sake whereof I do labor and suffer both in body and spirit, and will yet willingly labor, until my course is finished.
I am a lover of all men's souls, known among men by the name,
AN EPISTLE FROM STEPHEN CRISP, TO FRIENDS IN COLCHESTER
Dearly beloved friends, brethren and sisters, who are come to know and feel the life and virtue of God refreshing your souls, which you once longed after, and sought with heavy hearts, and knew not where to find it; but now have tasted of the heavenly manna, and are comforted. My dear Friends, who can express the greatness of the mercies of our God in this particular? but in a sense and feeling of my fellowship with you, and you with me herein, am I at this time drawn forth to salute you, in love unfeigned; as being present with you in your drawings nigh to your God and my God, your strength and my strength. And Friends, though you know these things, yet it is in my heart to put you in mind how that your standing is not by knowledge, but by your faith in the Son of God; and whoever is born of him, believes him through death, and finds him faithful forever, and so by faith and obedience, comes to the joyful resurrection and inheritance in light; and the Son of God is made manifest, that you having seen his appearance, may be made like him; and that power that can do it, is the same that raised up, and brought again our Lord Jesus from the dead; and therefore dear hearts, you who have believed in the light, be diligent to feel the power to which all things are possible, so that the blessed work begun in you, may be perfected, to the praise of God, and your comfort and establishment; this is it that has gone before you in all your sore combats and conflicts, and you were never weak, while you eyed the power of God, and marked which way it led you; for it always gave you power to accomplish your testimony, though with your lives in your hands. Friends, this glorious blessed power is the same today as yesterday, and will always be the same to you; if you abide in it, you will feel no weakness; that will be among your enemies; and among you, God will ordain strength, courage and nobility; and you will appear worthy of your name, that is, the people and children of God. He has none to stand up for him in the earth, but those who trust in his power; those who trust in their own, their strength is as duff before the fire. You are his little heritage in the sight of the heathen; if you appear valiant, many will believe, and the name you profess shall be honorable, and you with it. Therefore, Friends, seeing how great goodness is bestowed upon you, and how greatly your souls' desires are answered, in that you are brought from the barren mountains to the pastures of life, and remembering how you have been kept from being again scattered by the violence or subtleties of the enemies of Truth, and of your souls; and feeling to this day and hour, the continuation of that blessed power with you, warming, comforting and refreshing your souls; oh be encouraged to follow the Lord with your whole heart, though to the loss of all that can be lost; and heed not the darkness of this world, nor its times and seasons of ebbing and flowing, or appearing more or less; but mind the power of God, and observe diligently the times and seasons in which you are called to bear a testimony for your God, and to show forth the faith you have in him, and the love you have to him, that the world may see you constrained, though they cannot see what constrains you. Dearly beloved, my heart is enlarged towards you, beyond what words can declare; and as you feel the love and goodness of God springing up in your hearts, then feel you and read my love, which is in the same root by which I am, and have been supported in all my travails and sufferings for the seed's sake; and my joy daily increases, because I see daily the captivity of Zion to return. So rejoice you with me, be glad in the Lord, and meet diligently together in his power, to praise and magnify him for his goodness, as in times past, when you met together to be made partakers of it, and to be acquainted with it, so that unthankfulness may be found in none of you; but you all may be clearly and singly given up to do and suffer his will, that has chosen you to be a people to himself. Lay by and cast aside all earthly mindedness, and all fleshly consultations; for that will but darken you and veil your understandings, and bring in doubtfulness and weakness; but mind the power over all, which was before all, and must remain when all that is contrary to it is hushed and gone; and in this, I say again, is your strength and my strength, and the strength of the whole heritage of our Father. Therefore the supplication of my soul to the God and Father of my life, is, that you may be kept and preserved single to the power of God, minding always its leading and guidance, which will at last lead every one that believes and obeys into perfect rest. So dearly beloved in the Lord, fare you well, be faithful, be of good courage.
Your friend and brother in the Truth,
AN EPISTLE FROM STEPHEN CRISP, TO FRIENDS.
DEAR plants and babes of an immortal generation, who are sprung from him who is before Abraham was, and partakes of the strength of his word, by which all things were made; that in the power of that ability and might, you be made able to reign over all things that are made, and might not be subject to any thing, which itself is subject; to change, alteration or end. Oh you sons of strength, consider to what you are born, that the nobility of your generation may be manifest in the valor of your minds, that the noble acts of the ancients may arise in you, and the wisdom of the elders may appear, who were mighty through God, in confounding his enemies' wisdom; and in the word of his patience, overcame their strength; and through faith in the covenant, put to flight the aliens; and through the strength of his power, ran through the troops of the uncircumcised. In their day they were faithful in suffering, and God, even their God, was faithful to give them dominion.
Now brethren, and dearly beloved in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to the end that all may be kept in him who has the promise and blessing of the Father, feel the word that did beget the first breathing to Godward, for that was not worldly, but before it was, in the beginning; neither does the world satisfy what the word has begotten. Whoever receives satisfaction in the things of this world, are not the noble seed of inheritance, to which appertains the kingdom, which is not of the world. Again, my beloved, what is begotten by the word, partakes of his nature, which is meek and lowly. This seed and birth grows only in meekness, neither seeks to exalt itself, but humbles itself to serve for his friends, and suffer for his enemies. Therefore whoever wills to exalt himself over friends or enemies, the same is degenerate from the root of the life that is in the word, and must return to the word in meekness, and wait to know the lowliness thereof engrafted in his soul, for fear that the heights do separate him from the love of God, that is in the lowly seed. So let none of the olive-plants leave their fatness, nor the fig-trees leave their fruitfulness, in the places where God has set you, to seek a dominion to yourselves; for this is your glory and your crown, to be what you are in the word, which abides forever; and let none put trust under the shadow of a bramble, which will be most subject to reign; neither delight yourselves in his fruit, for the end will be bitterness. But oh, you tender seed, and beloved of your mother, (who has been brought forth with bitter pangs, ever since her return from the wilderness), behold, your king is the Lord of Hosts, the Mighty One of the ancients, and the Counselor of the holy priests and prophets of old, is the oracle of your wisdom and understanding. Therefore let your eye be always to him, and let the steps of your feet daily be directed to his holy place; let your ears be open to his words, and your heart shall be taught in wisdom; let the increase of his power be your strength, so shall you never be confounded. O you sons of the morning, and daughters of the brightness of his arising, who live not but as he reigns, and die not while he lives in you; oh how my heart is filled with his love and breathings of his life toward you How shall I express, and how shall I signify to you, the strength of that love, which he has by his divine power raised up in me toward you. Oh, I am straitened, in that words are too strait and narrow, to utter the joy that my spirit has among you night and day, when I behold your order, your feeding, and your clothing, yes, and your armor, which is light. Who is like to you, O you beloved Jacob, and Israel, God's chosen, terrible as an army with banners, strong as a fenced city, whose dwelling is the walls of rocks. The archers have shot against you, but their bows were broken; the mighty men, the princes, the captains, and the nobles have risen up against you, and they have fallen by the edge of the sword, even the word, which proceeds out of the mouth of the Lamb, your light, oh Zion. The wise men have added their wisdom, and the strong man has added his strength, the scribe and the learned have brought forth their devices; but God, even your God, in the midst of you has done wonderfully.
Now brethren, I am enlarged, knowing you can read the lines of my dear and entire love, beyond what I can write, because the finger of God has been felt to write me in your hearts; an epistle, not read, but in the light, where the name is recorded, which is one. This is the salutation of my very life to every one of you who knows me in that one; that you live in purity and peace; then shall love abound among you, and my joy shall be full concerning you. Dear babes, an everlastingly beloved children, whom I feel near me, (though far off outwardly), with the arm of sensible love I embrace you, and with the undefiled lips of innocence I salute you, and in the arm of his strength that has loved you, I leave you, yes, and lie down with you, I having no other strength than what is your strength, nor food, nor riches, nor wisdom, nor glory, but what are yours also, being anointed with the same oil of gladness, and joined together in that body which is, and shall forever be glorified at the right hand of the eternal Majesty, whose is the kingdom, and the glory, and the worship forever. This further brethren, is in my heart to signify to you, that your joy may be full, that since my coming southward, I have seen the prosperity of Truth, and the people that God has made willing, in this the day of his power, are many; glory be to the Lord God of Zion, who turns her captivity, and restores again her inhabitants from far. Truth has a good savor in these parts; and Friends keep fresh and living, and many in a readiness to go out in the Lamb's warfare, to overcome violence with patience, and the force of the enemy with faith, and to wait for their saving through suffering, and feel the rock that upholds, and the anchor that stays their souls, which has never failed us, nor ever will, but will last until adversity ceases, and tribulation comes to an end, and sorrows are no more; yes, until the kingdom of our Lord is over all the kingdoms of the earth, and his name over every name, in which is your strength, and the strength of your dear friend and brother, in the kingdom, life and patience of the Lamb and holy seed.
Let copies of this be carefully written and sent forth among Friends in the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire, to be read in the sensible feeling life of the holy and beloved seed of blessing, when Friends in it, are met together.
TWO OF STEPHEN CRISP'S EPISTLES TO FRIENDS AT AMSTERDAM, translated from Dutch.
Amsterdam, the 28 th of the 4 th Month, 1667.
For this end has the Lord God of heaven and earth made known his everlasting Truth to you, that you should walk therein, in singleness and uprightness of heart, and not to live any longer to yourselves, nor to this world, but to the Lord who has called you. Therefore dear Friends, wait with all diligence upon the Lord, in the light of his Son Jesus Christ, with which every one is enlightened, but in you, through the gospel is made manifest, by which you are called out of the world, to seek and wait for an inheritance and kingdom that fades not away. As your minds in this light of Jesus are stayed, you will feel the heavenly power of God, which will give you a discerning of what is of the world in you, and also of those who still are in the world; and as you are obedient and subject to this power, you cannot join with the world, nor with their worships nor manners. But such live in that clean and unspotted life that shall judge the world. Also you who have believed in the name of the Lord, wait to feel the working of the power of it in yourselves, and to be baptized into his death, that being dead to the world and the flesh, you may live to God in the spirit, and your minds may be set upon things that are above; for the world and all things therein must pass away as a scroll, but the word of God, by which you have been convinced, is everlasting, and by its power shall all things be subdued, and the throne of wickedness brought under, and righteousness shall be established in the earth; and all that come to know this effected in themselves, shall see this day and be glad. Therefore, Friends, be not discouraged at the clouds and darkness that yet remain over the nations; but keep the faith, and walk in the law of God, so shall light be in your dwellings, and your borders shall be enlarged, for the darkness of this world shall never extinguish that light, that is broken forth in this day, in which you have believed. Therefore, my dear Friends, to whom my soul is at this time enlarged, in the love of God beyond words; be strong in the Lord, and walk before him in a single and upright mind, for that is well-pleasing to the Lord, and keep all things under your feet, that would dishonor the holy name of God. Let your conduct in the sight of men be inoffensive, answering the witness of God in the consciences of all men, that the mouth of opposers may be stopped, and may be made to acknowledge to the power, truth and righteousness that is found in and among you.
So God Almighty keep and preserve you by his almighty power, to whose fatherly care and protection I leave you, dear hearts, to be preserved by him out of all the snares of the enemy of your souls, which will daily be discovered by the light to all such as diligently wait in it.
In the fellowship of which pure everlasting light of Christ Jesus, I am your friend, and a lover of your souls, and a servant of the everlasting gospel of God,
Friends, keep your meetings in the name of the Lord with diligence, and let this be read among you in your assemblies.
Our fellowship stands in the gospel of peace, which is the power of God which is everlasting, and which is not of this world. If you keep low in this power of God which is not of this world, then you have fellowship, and the gospel of peace is felt, and the things of this world cannot break your fellowship, but you will mount over the world, and over what would disquiet and disturb you in yourselves. So the power will bring you to rest, and to the true Sabbath, and to the true joy, and to the true dominion of life. You shall know an entrance to be administered into the kingdom of God, over the devil, and his power, and the least among you shall rule over him; but neither the least nor the greatest to rule over one another, but the power of life over you all; this is the requirement of God. Where all that is contrary to this power, is brought under, there is peace, rest and stillness enjoyed to the soul. Therefore my dearly beloved Friends, feel after the power that preserves your fellowship, and let the law of God go over the fallen reason, in which the world can see you; but in the seed you are hidden, and your life is hidden, and your glory is hidden, and kept from spots, and your crown is sure in immortality. Therefore, dear hearts, love the power, and depend upon it, that you may feel perfect deliverance by it, from all what will bring weights and burdens; and so walk in the power and dominion of Truth in the life of righteousness over the prince of this world, the serpent and his earthly wisdom which you are to know an end of; and when you come to know an end to that, you come to receive the wisdom that is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable and without end; through which you will be led to a right spirit, and to walk in the path of the just, which is holiness; which brings us to see God.
The Almighty God keep and preserve you all to the end, Amen.
London, 6 th of the 12 th Month, 1667.
Let this be read in your assemblies, when you are met in the name and fear of the Lord.
AN EPISTLE FROM STEPHEN CRISP TO FRIENDS, Against Such as cry out against the Form of Godliness, as against Meeting at Set Times, on First Days, etc.
Oh, my Dear Friends,
My soul with love unfeigned salutes you, even in that very love which the Father has bestowed on me, of which love and goodness he has also made you sharers and partakers through Jesus Christ our light and counselor, whose paths have become paths of peace, and his right hand has been a support and refuge to you, in the days of your weakness and infancy; so that when the enemy within, or enemies without, sought to destroy your hope which you had in God, lo, you felt his power near to sustain you. So you became valiant for the name of your God, and his eternal love that sprung up in your hearts, constrained you to suffer much, rather than his name should in the least suffer. By the operation of his power, you became so united and joined together, that your hearts stood open one for another; and if anything happened through weakness and childishness, you could feel in that day how God for Christ's sake had forgiven you, and could in the same forgive one another; and this was that, dear children, that gave you an understanding, and a discerning of the false power, and airy spirit, in however great a glory it appeared. As you dwelt in that blessed power which kept you low and broken in yourselves, you could see both yourselves and others. In those days were the hearts of the righteous made glad among you, and you were enriched with heavenly benefits, and your assemblies were a delight to you, because therein your souls were satisfied with the appearance of his likeness. Oh my Friends, that this glory might ever rest upon you, and that you might say, the government and the peace of our Lord Jesus is still increasing among us, and that as the Lord has called and chosen you, to be his witnesses of his arising, you might none of you fall short of this testimony; that is, to know him raised up in you all, who bruises down Satan the scatterer and defiler, and destroys his whole work, though never so crafty. Oh, that seed which never fell, which cannot be beguiled; oh, wait to feel it in yourselves, for it is meek and lowly, long-suffering, and full of patience. This is what puts to silence the birth of the flesh, yes, though it would plead to advance the spirit; for wisdom is justified of her own children. Oh, my Friends, my heart is full towards you of the love of my Father, yet am I pained and in heaviness concerning you, for fear that that old enemy of Israel's peace, should beguile any of you and lead you from the simplicity of the gospel, to follow seducing spirits. Therefore my dearly beloved in the Lord Jesus, I charge you all to wait in that same eternal light of Jesus, which at the beginning was a sure guide to you, and led you into the form of sound and uncondemnable speech, and into an inoffensive life towards all people, and made you watch how to ease the burdens of the oppressed, and so through believing you were preserved. Therefore by doubting, let not any be shaken nor removed, though the enemy in these days has prepared the seeds, men of doubts and questionings, as well as you have known those who have sown the word of faith and soundness, yet know them asunder, whenever they appear; for the ministers of righteousness have from the beginning sown but one manner of doctrine, and in that you have received us, and we have sought to establish you, both in the power and form of Truth. Now, whoever strikes at either, is a seducer, and if any lets in his doctrine, it will cause divisions among you; and when you are divided, then the carnality will arise, to feed and maintain the division; and so your love to God will wax colder, and iniquity will unavoidably abound, which separates from God, and scatters from the true church, and brings the soul into desolation. What draws forth the mind about days, and places, and outward things, leads into animosities and heats; whereupon false fire comes sometimes to be offered up. Oh, my Friends, my heart is broken in remembrance of you, and what the Lord has done for you, and how he made you a dread to the heathen, while you retained the love and simplicity that you learned in Christ. Oh! how meek, how tender, how subject were your souls to the Truth, and one to another in it? Oh! let it neither be lost nor forgotten, but fulfill my joy in the Lord on your behalf, and with one consent judge out what is wicked and abominable, and let none spare what pertains to the uncircumcised; but let it be done in fear and trembling, that the fleshly part in all may feel the stroke. But, dear lambs, let your concord never be broken, nor your agreement, (in things appertaining to godliness), any ways be removed from you; for if it is, then is your beauty marred, and your crown defaced. But meet together on the First days, and on other days, as formerly you have been led, and the former blessing and presence of God will be felt among you; which some not feeling, have gone into questionings and reasonings, to their own harm. Dear Friends, the Lord knows the integrity of my soul, and true love to you; and that for his glorious Truth's sake, and for your sakes I write these things to you. Oh, receive my advice; hearken and hear, and let all self-will be borne down by the meek Lamb's power, for it is what gives life, and restores, and heals and makes up breaches. Therefore make haste to a hearty atonement in the seed Christ, the head of every true and living member, and let none have cause to glory in your flesh, or in your weakness, but make glad your hearts who seeks no glory, but the glory of God; his witness is in your hearts, bearing us record that we have labored among you, to bring you into the unity of the faith, and into the knowledge and practice of such things as tend to your edifying. Therefore lend not your ears, (I beseech you), to that, in any, or in yourselves, that would, (under pretence of formality in times or places), draw you aside, from the good and blessed testimony of assembling yourselves together to wait upon your God. What there is in any of you that would not condescend to each other as brethren, is not of the nature of the true birth, but must by it be subdued. As that rises and prevails in and among you, so will you again feel the Lord ministering to his own in you, and your eyes will be open to see the wiles of our subtle adversary more clearly; who though he may appear masked, with a show of more holiness, with a promise of a further glory, higher dispensations, new discoveries, yes, and with a pretence of leading out of formality into the power, and many such like baits and snares. Yet my dearly beloved, beware of such pretences, for he comes but to bring you into a disesteem of what you have received, and to draw forth the expectation after something else; so that you might be robbed and spoiled of your portion; and then when you come to a lack in yourselves, having lost the former, and missing the latter, you will be tempted to end in the earth; and the latter end of such is worst of all.
So, my dear Friends, in the largeness of my love, have I written this large epistle to you, in which if you receive my advice to your benefit, I have my end. Though heaviness has been upon me, yet my rejoicing in you will return to me again, and my spirit shall praise the Lord with yours. The Lord God of power preserve you, and keep you steadfast to the end, in the doctrine of his Son, and in the obedience of his Truth, to the fulfilling of your testimony, and to the obtaining the crown immortal, which never fades away; in the earnest of which, and in the blessed fellowship of his power, in which my soul desires you may be kept, I bid you farewell; who am your friend and companion in the Truth, and acquainted with the burdens of those who cause trouble, whom God will repay.
AN EPISTLE FROM STEPHEN CRISP, WHEN A PRISONER.
O you lambs of the green pasture! you sheep of my Father's fold! you who by the word of life are made acquainted with the power of regeneration, and are born into the nature of the Lamb's innocence; and are grown up in the virtue of sincerity. Oh! how glorious is your appearance? My eye beholds, and my heart is ravished; my soul shall praise the God of my life forever and ever on your behalf. From the hill have I viewed you, and from the high tower of my refuge have I looked on you; my eye is opened, and I see you the flock of undefiled lambs in whom my God is glorified. Oh! feed you, and be you nourished; for your pastures are enlarged, and your Shepherd's care is over you; his arm is able to defend you from every beast of the field. By day will he feed you in his pleasant pastures, and by night will he fold you in a fold of rest. Oh! my beloved Friends, this is the day of which we have spoken, and in which not only the words, but the nature must be manifested. You who bear the Lamb's image, and grow in his nature, first being proved, shall be preserved and delivered, and in the day of trial feel the word of patience; for that stays the thoughts, and keeps satisfied in the present state. Here is the glory of the saints, who only of all the children of men, can glory in tribulation, and can grow then in patience. Now the glory of Zion's daughters appears to be within them, and their strength is a continual spring, whereby her sons are armed with power, to tread down change and alterations, and dwell in the dominion over trouble. Glory, glory to the God of our strength, who keeps us, who guards Israel, who arms his chosen ones, and leads them to the battle, and keeps our head covered therein, that the enemy cannot wound it.
Here, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, in the generation of our endless posterity, is my unity with you preserved, though by locks and bars I be separated outwardly from you, yet by the invisible flowings of life, do I reach you, and am felt by you, in that eternal Spirit which quickens and gives life to every member of the church of Christ. This present separation, is for trial of our faith, love and patience, that through exercise they may be perfected, and we all may learn the heavenly and internal knowledge, sense and feeling one of another, by sinking into, and waiting in the spirit of the Father, by which the whole body is knit and united together; and who knows us not in this, is not truly of us; for as we have said, declarations and prophecies must cease, but the word which begets and gives life, abides forever, and is the daily bread, which is set before the mercy seat, in the house of our God, of which none may eat, but those who are sanctified, washed and clean, according to the law, and are witnesses of the offering, that makes atonement; and these may now feed together, being nourished, and grow strong, as well as ever; because the enemy cannot rob you of your food, and your water. Therefore eat, O Friends, and drink abundantly of the new wine, well refined; let your hearts be glad, and let your souls rejoice in the promise, for this is the day of the Lamb's battle, and the day of his victory is near at hand, wherein the carcasses must be buried out of sight, and all dead worship without life put under, and the living worship of the living God, be exalted more and more. Therefore rejoice you, and I say again, rejoice. Let your hearts be strong, O my beloved Friends, and comfort you yourselves therein, and one another, and love one another. Let the spirit of love abound in you, one towards another, in how much you see the enemy seeks to discomfort you. Mark the weak among you in true love and compassion; beware of the wiles of those who are crafty, who seek to lead from the simplicity of the gospel. Keep your testimony alive in all things, wherein you are required by the Lord, and be not terrified at all that is, or may come to pass. The God of peace and power, of eternal love and truth, preserve you all faithful to the end, to the everlasting consolation of your souls, and glory of his great name; for the sake whereof he has saved us, and delivered us, and will yet deliver us; to whom be everlasting praises, and holy thanksgiving forever and ever. Amen.
This web site's purpose is to show how to become
free from sin
by benefiting from the changing power of God through the cross,
which leads to union with God in his Kingdom.