Francis Howgill's Writings
Of the Entering in of the Apostasy,
Christ said: "Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves: you shall know them by their fruits;" Mat 7:15-16; and, "many false prophets shall arise and deceive many." Mat 24:11. This was fulfilled in the age of the disciples. John testified: “Little children, it is the last time; and as you have heard that antichrist should come, even now are there many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time; they went out from us but they were not of us." 1 John 2:18-19. And Peter said: “False teachers should arise, who should bring in damnable heresies." 2 Pet 2:1. And Paul wrote to Timothy: "That the Spirit spoke expressly, that, in the latter times, some should depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats;" 1 Tim 4:1-3; who were enemies to the cross of Christ. These went out into the world; and this is upwards of 1400 years ago, when the mystery of iniquity began to work: they went out and preached Christ in words, but denied the cross, and spoke things they ought not to have spoken, for filthy lucre’s sake. This was the beginning of the hirelings that cared not for the flock: they held the form, but denied the power, for they were out of the power and out of what mortifies the deeds of the flesh; and they spread themselves over nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, which have now gotten the name of a church. John said: "these were the waters upon which he saw mystery Babylon sit; and she and all her children turned against the free woman, the Lambs wife, and made her flee into the wilderness for a time, times, and half a time; and mystery Babylon reached forth her golden cup full of abominations, and claimed Christ to be her husband, and sat as a queen, and the kings of the earth drank of her cup, and were bewitched by her sorceries. Then all nations becoming as waters, and unstable, being drunk with the abominations of this cup, staggered up and down, being out of the power of Christ which should have established them. Then, a great beast arose out of these waters, with seven heads and ten horns; and these apostatized ministers, who preached for filthy lucre, and those who believed them, took shelter under the beast, and cried: "who is able to make war with the beast? " And the kings of the earth gave their strength to him; and the false church got upon him, and rides upon him, and has done so these many years; and she has traveled in the greatness of his strength; calling herself by the free woman’s name, and putting on her outward attire, she said I am she; and thus has deceived the nations. Then laws began to be made about religion; then began forcing in matters of conscience, which were contrary to the practice of the true Church. Now Rome look to your beginning and view your antiquity. If nations, kindreds, tongues, and people have drunk of the cup of mystery Babylon since John's days, then what cause have you to boast of antiquity and universality? That sooner proves you to be the harlot than the true Church; for if nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, universally, are the waters that she sits upon and the beast rose out of the waters; read yourself and clear yourself of the apostasy if you can. Since John saw the true Church, the woman clothed with the Sun, who brought forth the man child, flee into the wilderness; what cause have you to boast of visibility or universality? When were you in the wilderness? If your church has not been there, then it demonstrates that your church is not the woman clothed with the sun; for she flew into the wilderness as with the wings of an eagle.
If the beast made war with all who did not bear his image, then we have you as in a press, between us and the apostles time; for no such compelling was in the true Church. Instance any such thing, if you can, from their writings; where were men and women killed by the sword, or by lingering torments, in their time! Such practices have been nowhere found in any other church except in you, [Rome] and in those who, at the best are but in your suburbs, [the Protestants]. And it is known that your church has been upheld, more by force and cruelty than by sound doctrine; though you may say, "I am clear, I persecuted none to death. Instead I have a beast to ride upon, who will make war for my city, and compel to my worship and institutions. I will cry him up for the higher power and say, whoever resists this, resists the ordinance of God; and he will compel and destroy for me, and call me the holy church; so I shall be clear?"
Thus it is clear that the church of Rome is in the apostasy; and this is also evident by her practices for:
There are also many other things which might be enumerated, which are found in the church of Rome, and which are proofs of her apostasy; such as her doctrine of the real presence of Christ’s body and blood, in the bread and wine after the consecration by the priests; her observation of particular days dedicated to particular saints, the sale of pardon and indulgences, etc.
On Separation from the Church of Rome
Now Christ being the Head of the true Church, who ought to rule by his spiritual scepter in the hearts and consciences of people, unto whom all power in heaven and earth is committed by the Father, who will not that any other should have that glory - - the separation of the Protestant churches, which have denied the Pope to be the head, is upon good ground. Yet the Reformation is very imperfect; for many of the doctrines and practices of these are not according to primitive doctrine and practice: such as setting up an outward ordination, and a form of laying on of hands without the Holy Ghost; and ordaining such as have some skill in languages and oratory for ministers, confining these to parishes, preaching for hire, exacting tithes, etc., and in using instrumental music in religious services, which pertained to the Jewish worship; in counting some particular days holy; in limiting to the use of certain portions of Scripture on certain days, and using certain forms of prayer on certain days, and in many other things; a brief history of the introduction of some of which, among those who profess to be Christians, here follows:
On Fasts Feasts and Holy Days
The Jews, in the first covenant, had many fasts, feasts, and holy-days; as the sabbath, passover, pentecost, feast of the new moons, of unleavened bread, of tabernacles, and of dedication, which are largely shown in the Books of Moses; all which things, as the apostle said to the Hebrews, were but shadows of things to come, and not the things themselves; which only continued until the time of reformation, and until the bringing in of a better hope, which stood upon better promises.
In the primitive Christian churches, they came to see the end of these things; and were brought to Him who was the substance, in whom all figures and shadows end. The apostle therefore says: "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy-day, which area shadow of things of to come; but the body is of Christ,” Col 2:16-17. Now, afterward, when people minded the form more than the Power, they ran out into these things again, with many additions; some borrowed from the heathen and some of their own invention, and then pressed them upon Christians as apostolic ordinances. And these things stand in force with many to this day, even among those who are called reformed! The keeping of days was invented to commemorate anything remarkable which related to Christ, the apostles, etc., and without any Divine authority; and for remarkable events, as the nativity, circumcision of Christ, and purification of Mary, called Candlemas, Easter, [Passover] and Pentecost were kept by the Jews. It was decreed and ratified at a Council at Lyons in France, that such days as either when the holy saints departed this life upon, or did a notable deed, should be kept holy for the increase of their religion. Silvester assigned the day of Advincula Sancti Petri, commonly called Lammas, in memory of Peters pains and persecutions. Felix the first, in order to magnify the commendation of martyrs, made a statute that a yearly oblation should be had in memorial of them; and Gregory said that mass should be said over their graves and tombs. He also ordained, that neither flesh nor anything that had affinity with it, as cheese, milk, butter, and eggs, should be eaten, on such days as were fasts.
Boniface the fourth instituted the feast of St. Stephen and Innocents, John the Baptist, Lady Day Lawrence, Michel, Martin, etc.
What is called Corpus Christi day, was made a holy-day, and dedicated by Urbanus the fourth. Soul-mass day was begun by Odilo, provost or provincial of Cluniacensis order, because he heard that great cryings, lamentations, and weepings were heard about Mt. Etna, the burning mountain in Sicily, which he supposed to be the weepings of evil spirits, that bewailed because the souls of dead men were taken from them, by the petitions and sacrifices of well disposed Christians; he therefore appointed, in his convent, a general oblation for all souls, the day after the feast of All-saints; this was about the year 1002.
Telespborus appointed that Lent should be kept before Easter, and added another week to it, which is called Quinquegesima; and in this week be commanded the priests to fast more than the laity.
On those Called Parish Churches and Church Yards
Parish churches, which stand to this day both in the church of Rome and in those called reformed churches, were ordained, built, and dedicated to saints in the apostasy. The apostles and ministers of Christ, who published the Word of Reconciliation, and Christ the substance of all figures, gathered those who believed of the Jews from the temple and temple worship, and of the gentiles from their temples and idols, to worship God in spirit; and they met together in houses and sometimes by the sea side. There are no parish churches dedicated to saints mentioned in the Scriptures. The first church or temple that we read of, that was consecrated, was by Pius, bishop of Rome, about the middle of the second century, in honor of the virgin Pudentiana. Afterwards, Calistus is said to have made a temple to the Virgin Mary in a place beyond Tibris, and instituted a burial-place and called it after his own name. About the year 226, cemeteries were ordered to be hallowed, by Urbanus the sixteenth bishop of Rome. Dionysius, in the year 267, allotted to the several presbyters, in the city of Rome, the churches and cemeteries; and to others in other places distributed their respective parishes and dioceses, that so every one might be confined within his own bounds and limits.
These were the beginnings of parish churches, church-yards, and consecrated grounds; but we read of no consecrated ground in the time of the apostles. The primitive Christians knew that the earth was the Lords, and the fullness thereof, and that it was clean, and good, and blessed, to those who believed.
Now Protestants, who have denied the church of Rome, look about you and see how you are sticking in Babylon, and still buying the merchandise thereof. As for your holy-ground, called church-yards, which only you judge fit to bury the dead in, and would compel all to come there, is it not because there are in many officers in and about it, who are greedy of rewards; so that they would not miss any thing that might be benefit to them; and so would compel all to come there for their gain?
Since the apostasy entered in, and the power of godliness began to be denied, there a number of names have crept into the Church, which were not heard of before that time, from men seeking offices, great titles, great benefits, and great revenues, instead of serving the Lord freely and willingly and not for gifts and rewards. Of these titles are such a: The Pope, His Holiness, Christ’s Vicar, Universal Bishop, Metropolitan Bishop, Lord Cardinals, Archbishops, Lord Bishops, Arch Deacons, Deans, Prebends, Doctors of Divinity, Bachelors of Divinity, Vicars, Curates, etc., as well as various orders of monks and nuns which, if compared with scriptures will scarcely meet any parallel either as to office, work, or doctrine.
There are literal ministers enough while the maintenance lasts; but the ministration of the Spirit, few are acquainted with.
At the giving forth of the Law, after Israel came out of Egypt, God chose Aaron and his sons for the office of the Priesthood; and the rest of the tribe of Levi for the service of the Tabernacle, and gave unto the Levites by commandment, for their service, all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance. And the Levites, out of their tithes, were to offer up to the Lord a tenth part, and give it unto Aaron for himself and his sons; so that the Levitical priests had no other portion but the tenth of the tenth; as for the rest they were for the Levites that served at the tabernacle, and for the strangers, fatherless, and widows. The priests had also, above the tenth of the tithes, the first ripe fruits of the ground; of corn, wine, and oil, and the first fleece. But how comes it to pass that they who pretend to another priesthood than this, even to be priests in the Christian Church, should receive the tenth of all, even of unclean beasts, as pigs, and foals? Surely they cannot distinguish the time nor the ministration, or they would be ashamed to claim a title to the tithes of Aaron and the Levites, who had no portion in the land among their brethren, but these bishops, priests, etc. have a great part of some countries for their revenue. Is this any other than the Pope’s yoke? Must this be received as Apostolic doctrine? Let it never be mentioned among those who call themselves ministers of Christ, or of any who profess themselves Christians.
The apostle ordained in the primitive churches that a weekly offering should be made by the saints; that everyone might freely offer of that with which God had blessed him, which was put into the bands of the Deacons, and out of it the poor and necessary services were supplied.
In the next age monthly offerings were made, not exacted, but freely given. Tertullian says: "Whatsoever we have in the treasury of our churches, is not raised by taxation, as though we put men to ransom their religion, but every man, once a month or when he himself pleases, gives what be thinks good; for no man is compelled, but left to his own discretion; and it is not bestowed in vanity, but in relieving the poor, and for the maintenance of poor children destitute of parents, and of aged people, and such as are cast into prisons for professing the Christian faith." This mode of contribution continued until about the year 304, according to Eusebius, Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian and others.
Origen says: It is not lawful for any minister to possess lands given to the Church, for his own use.
The Council at Antioch, in the year 340, finding that much fault had been among the Deacons, to whom it properly belonged to distribute the offerings of free gifts, where there was need, and which they had detained for their own covetous ends, ordained that the Bishops might distribute the goods; but required that they should take no part thereof to themselves, or to the use of the priests; using the exhortation of the apostle: "Having food and raiment be therewith content."
Chrysostom, who lived about the year 400, pressed the people much to bountiful contributions for holy uses, and says: "I speak not these things as commanding, or forbidding they should give more, yet as thinking it fit they should not give less than the tenth part." Ambrose, bishop of Milan, about the same period, preached up tenths to be offered for holy uses, as the phrase then was; but he produced his authority wholly from the writings of Moses. Augustine, bishop of Hippo, joined with Ambrose, and threatened these who did not give their tenths, with great penalties and heavy judgments from God; who, they said, had reserved them for the use of the poor. Prior to this, [for four hundred years,] it was not laid down as a positive doctrine to pay them as the Jews did; but the Jews were brought for an example, that Christians should not give less. Leo, about the year 440, was very earnest in stirring up men’s devotion to offer to the Church; but speaks not a word as to quantity. Gregory not only advised the payment of Tithes from the Law of Moses; but also the observing of Lent, which he reckoned as the tenth part of the year, saying: "We are commanded in the Law to give the tenth of all things to God."
About the year 600, pope Gregory the first, sent Augustine the monk into England, by whom Ethelbert king of Kent was converted, as they, call it; but it was only to Popery. Augustine and his clergy for a long time followed the example of former ages, living in common upon the offerings of their converts; but afterwards, having brought a great part of the nation to their faith, they began to preach up, that tithes ought to be paid; and having taught the people that the pardon of sin was merited by good works, and the torments of hell avoided by charity, "it was no hard matter to persuade them to give, not only their tenths, but their lands and other riches; so that, in process of time, the clergy got about a third of all the land into their hands. Though by the law of Moses, they were to have no possessions in land, except the very limited suburbs of the Levites.
The king of Mercia and Ethelwolf king of Northumberland, who also were converted to Popery, made decrees that the two kingdoms should pay tithes.
Notwithstanding the threats of some great bishops, it was not until about the year 800, that the doctrine that tithes ought to be paid, was generally received; and then they were received into a common treasury and were disposed of thus: one fourth to the priests, out of which every one had his portion; one fourth to the relief of the poor, the sick, and strangers; a fourth to the building and repairing of places of public worship; and a fourth to the bishop, who generally lived in some monastery and his clergy with him; from where he sent them to preach in the countries, where they received such offerings as were made, and brought them to the treasury.
None of the first eight general councils ever mention the name of tithes; but the ninth, held at Lateran, under pope Calixtus the second, in the year 1119, speaks of such as had been given to the Church by special consecration; for at that time, people believing that tithes ought to be given to the poor, gave them to the heads and rulers of religious houses, who disposed of them; keeping open house for the poor and strangers, and were esteemed holy and good treasurers for the poor, as is testified by Cassion. But the council held under pope Alexander the third, in the year 1180, seeing much given to the poor and little to the priests, made a decree to restrain peoples’ freedom.
There was no law, canon, or constitution of any general council that commanded tithes, or expressly supposed them a duty, before that of Lateran, in the year 1215, under pope Innocent the third; at which time the pope’s power had grown great. And then the people had greater mind to give them to the poor than to the priests; which made Innocent cry out against those who gave their tithes and first fruits to the poor, and not to the priests, as heinous offenders.
At a council held at Lyons, under pope Gregory the tenth, in the year 1274, it was constituted, that it should not thenceforth be lawful for men to give their tithes at their own pleasure, as they had before done, but that they should pay all to the mother church. The great decree which speaks most plainly of them was made at the council of Trent, under pope Pius the fourth, in the year 1560. It commanded tithes to be paid under penalties of excommunication.
By what has been stated, it may be seen that tithes were not even reckoned as due for many hundreds of years after Christ; and that indeed they were never due in the Second Covenant, Christ having put an end to the first priesthood, with all its shadows and carnal ordinance.
On Psalms, Matins, Litany, and Mass
The Jews had many officers which belonged to the temple worship, among which were singers, as the Ezrabitcs, and the sons of Korab, and Asaph, etc. This was under the first covenant, and belonged to that priesthood which could not continue because of the faultiness thereof.
But the Christians in the primitive times, who had received the Holy Ghost, did joy in it; and they who sung, sung with the Spirit and with understanding from the feeling of God's presence and assurance, which they had in their hearts. And those who overcame were redeemed from the earth, those who had followed the Lamb, who had given them the victory over sin, death, and the grave; sung a new song, which none could learn but those whose names were written in the Lamb's book of Life. These were the songs of the redeemed, whom God had delivered out of the hands of their enemies; and those who sung them were witnesses of his wondrous works, and praised Him in the Spirit and with understanding; they did not get a form of words.
The primitive Christians also prayed in the Spirit, and with understanding, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost; and were not limited as to the length of time, or to hours, or set times, but only to when the Spirit of God gave utterance; and then their prayers were accepted, and were a sweet incense.
But since the entering in of the apostasy, the Spirit and power having been lost by many, they have set up imitations. Hierome appointed Matins at set times, as Polydore Virgil says; and Pelagius the second, was the first who commanded priests to say them daily, saying: “As the just man falls seven times, so by instant prayers and matins, he may as often rise and amend."
Pontianus, the seventeenth Bishop of Rome, ordained that Psalms and Matins should be sung in the Church night and day, to drive away evil spirits.
Damasus, Bishop of Rome, gave commandment that Matins should be sung in all churches; and added “Gloria Patri,” to the end of every Psalm. He also instituted that Psalms and Matins should be sung by course.
Urbanus the second ordained those called the Lady’s Matins to be said daily, and confirmed them in a council which be held at Mount Clare in France.
At length matins and prayers were so numerous in the church of Rome, that they were glad to get beads to tell them by.
Concerning Mass and Litany, there have been in many authors patching them up that they are almost past numbering. Celestinns ordained some prayers to be said by the Priest when revesting himself to Mass, beginning "Judica me Domine." Damasus instituted the confession at the beginning of the mass; and Gorgius caused confession to be said nine times over in the Latin church. Telesphnrus ordained the Gospels and Epistles to be read; and Damasus divided them as they are read at this day in some of the churches professing to be reformed. Anastatius ordained that people should stand at the reading of the Gospel; Marcus ordained the first part of the Creed to be read, after it was made by the council of Nice. The second part, and Spiritum Sanctum was composed by the council at Constantinople. Eutichianus instituted the offertory to be sung while the people offered something to the poor. Gelasius made some of the Prefaces; Leo the third ordained the burning of Incense, which pertained to Aaron in the first Covenant; Privity of Mass, called common, was made by various persons; Gelatius made, "Te igitur;" and Alexander added, "Qui pridie;" Leo, made the addition of “Hanc igitur;" and Gregory added three petitions in the same. "Dies qui nostras, etc." Innocentius instituted that priests in the upper part of the choir should kiss one another, and that pax should be borne to the people. Serjius ordained “Agnus Dei" to be sung by the clergy at the time of communion, seven hundred years after Christ’s ascension; the priest often turning to the altar and wheeling about when be says: "Dominos vobiscum," or "Oratis Fratres."
Foelix decreed that Mass should be said only in consecrated places; and none were to meddle with the mysteries of consecration but the priest. Anacletus ordained that no Mass should be said unless in the presence of at least two persons, for fear that the priest should say in vain to bare walls, “Dominus vobiscum," "The Lord be with you," when no persons were present.
Thus one piece has been added to another, by which peoples’ minds have been drawn from attending on the Spirit of God, to listen to these foolish ceremonies and invented charms, and so they have been led into ignorance and the shadow of death, where many have taken up their habitations; and Babylon’s merchants have traded these many hundreds of years, with such like merchandise, under the name of apostolic ordinances and holy institutions.
In the first covenant, the Jews were commanded to swear by the Lord, and oaths were observed by them. But the doctrine of Christ who came to end that Covenant, and to establish the everlasting covenant, was: "Swear not at all,” neither by the head nor by any other thing; and that yes should be yes and no no in all things. And James, an apostle of Christ Jesus who knew the new covenant which is everlasting and saw over the ordinances of the first Covenant, said: “Above all things, my brethren, swear not; neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no; for fear that you fall into condemnation." James 5:12. And this was apostolic and catholic doctrine in the primitive churches. But afterwards people began to set up oaths again; imitating the Jews, who were under the first covenant, and justifying their actions on the commands given to the Jews. Justinian, (St. Justinian the despot), the emperor of Rome, was the first to rule that men should swear by the gospel, or book called the gospel, by laying their hands on it while kissing it and saying “so help me God.”
Many persons, rather than swear and bring condemnation on themselves, which was the consequence of them refusing to swear, have given up their estates and freedom; and happy will those be who have had no hand in provoking the upright, and endeavoring to turn them aside out of Christ’s way; for woe will undoubtedly come on those who have had a hand in doing so.
In order that it may he seen that refusing to
swear is not a new thing, a few examples are here produced of the faithful, who suffered as martyrs in ages past; and it would be easy to bring a cloud of witnesses from ecclesiastic authorities, who denied all swearing in various ages; a few testimonies of such are here produced.
The Waldenses or Leonists who were ancient and true protestants, professed it to be in no way lawful for a Christian to swear; whose cause Archbishop Usher, primate of Ireland, pleaded in this very thing, stating that command of Christ: "Swear not at all," Mat 5:34 to be a sufficient plea for them.
It is one of the articles of John Wickliff, whose works were as much esteemed by the protestants of England, as despised by the papists, "That Oaths which are made for any contract or civil bargain between man and man are unlawful."
"The Plowman's complaint," in the prayers, says: "Lord you gives us a commandment of Truth, in telling us say yes, yes, and no, no, and swear for nothing. You give us a commandment of meekness and another of poorness; but, Lord, he who calls him self your vicar on earth, has broken both these commandments, for be makes a law to compel men to swear." Acts and Mon. fol. vol. 1 p, 459. 9th. Edit.
Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople, blames
greaty, those who bring a book to swear upon;
charging clerks that they in no wise constrain
any body to swear, whether they think a man would
swear true or false, saying: "It is a sin to
On the Extent of the Power of Kings and Magistrates in Matters of Conscience
When the Lord brought Israel out of the land of Egypt by a strong hand and an outstretched arm, He made a covenant with them, and gave forth a Law, and statutes, and ordinances at Mount Sinai, by the hand of Moses, the Judge, of Israel. The laws and statutes which were then given forth for Israel to walk in, were concerning moral and civil things, and also concerning the worship of the true God. See Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. And those who did not worship the true God according to the command given in that covenant, were to have judgment executed upon them according to the Law; and Moses and the rest of the judges over Israel, were to see the laws and statutes executed upon the transgressors; if any were idolaters and worshiped a false god, or blasphemers, or sabbath breakers they were to be stoned to death; and their blood was to be upon their own heads. This was according to the Law of God.
And when Israel lusted after a king, God gave them one; and they had many kings, who were anointed of God, by his appointment, who were to rule in the same manner as Moses, Joshua, and the rest of the judges had done. This was before Christ was manifest in the flesh; this was the old way, these were the old paths that Israel were to walk in; but this covenant was faulty, as the apostle says, and the ministers was of it could not continue by reason of death. The Law, priesthood, ordinances and worship were changed, when Christ, the end of the Law for righteousness, was manifested.
Now as Aaron and the rest of the high-priests under the law, were but types and figures of Christ, King of Kings, the King of saints, the Lawgiver and the Judge; and their outward power in compelling to the true worship, or restraining from idolatry under that covenant only continued until the time of reformation, and was but a type of Christ's spiritual power, weapons, and execution of judgment upon his enemies, who are not subject to his government and power.
The first covenant and its ordinances, and the power of compelling to the worship, and punishing idolatry, belonged to the Jews only, who were under that Covenant, and not to the gentiles; as it is written: "He shows his word unto Jacob; his statutes and his judgments unto Israel, He has not dealt so with any nation." Psa 147:19-20. Therefore they who would bring people now under this covenant, and the power of it, virtually deny the second and everlasting covenant.
The ministers of antichrist have pressed it upon kings and rulers, that God has required of them to enforce all people to a worship, although they themselves are divided among themselves; one for this thing another for that. And because the kings of Israel did so, and had the power to do so, they have concluded that princes and judges ought to do so; and by this means have made them put their necks into a yoke, which is too heavy for them to bear; which the Lord has not required at their hands. By these compellings and forcings, many hypocrites have been made; and many of the consciences of God's people wounded and burdened: and because of them many kings and rulers have lost their dominions under the judgments of the Lord. All who have intruded upon Christ's prerogative and sovereignty, are but usurpers of that power which the Father has given unto his Son, and which He will not give to any other, to be Judge and Lawgiver in the hearts and consciences of his People.
It may be objected, that the apostles exhort to submission to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; 1 Pet 2:13-14: "Whether it is to the king as supreme; or unto governors, as unto those who are sent by him;" and Rom. 13:1-2 "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God." Now from these scriptures many bad inferences have been drawn; such as that kings and rulers were to be obeyed in all things; and that they had power in spiritual things, to make laws for such a mode of worship as they preferred, and to forbid others; and that all these ought to be obeyed. In the apostasy the ministers of antichrist have brought in many inventions, traditions, and human institutions, for divine worship; and have pressed rulers to make laws, and compel all people to receive them, although they have been repugnant to the true worship of God. Such teachers have pressed people to obedience as a duty, on the ground of the before said Scriptures.
Now these Scriptures must be understood to speak of submission in things which are just and equal, which are only of a civil or moral nature, and of ordinances for the good and wholesome government of a state; and cannot be understood of things spiritual, or relating to the worship of God; otherwise Peter and John were themselves transgressors, as well as the other apostles, who when they taught boldly in the name of Jesus, and were commanded by the rulers to speak no more in that name, disobeyed the command, saying: "Whether it is right in the sight of God, to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge yoursef."
On Image Worship, the Decrees of Councils,
Leo, emperor of Rome, commanded that all images and pictures of saints, should be taken out of the churches, for the avoiding of idolatry, in the year 726; but Gregory the second withstood him; and Leo, for confirmation, called a council of Bishops, about 800 in number; and they, in the year 730, decreed that all images should be taken away and broken. But Gregory the second called another council at Rome, of nearly a thousand Bishops, and condemned Leo and the three hundred Bishops for taking the images out of churches; and decreed that they should be worshiped with all reverence. Yet the former council and this council were all of one faith, and of that Roman Catlolic church which they say cannot err.
The Eliberine council decreed that no images should be set up in the churches, nor worshiped; and that the walls should not be painted. The council of Constantinople decreed, that images were not to be allowed in the churches, or meeting-places. But the second Nicene council determined, that images were not only to be placed in the churches, but also to be worshiped.
In the beginning of the 7th Century, Gregory the first blamed Serenus of Marseilles, a bishop, for causing all the images to be pulled down, and cast out of the places of worship and destroyed; because the Franks, who had settled in the south of Gaul, who had been indulged in the use of them at the time of their conversion, had been insensibly brought back, by them, to idolatry. Gregory says on this occasion: “Though images were not set up in churches to be worshiped, yet they serve to instruct the ignorant." But the council of Trent says: "Images were set up in churches, to have due honor and worship paid them there." If therefore the doctrine of Trent was sound, Gregory's doctrine was heretical. The doctrines of both are, however, contrary to the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures; and it would be well for all who are in the practice of bowing down to images and pictures, or of worshiping them, to consider how they will stand, in the day of judgment, before God, who has commanded: "You shall not make unto yourself any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God:" Exodus 20:4-5.
The latter council, under Julius the second, repealed the decrees of the Pisan council. The Basil council determined, that a council of Bishops was above the Pope, and that they who judged otherwise were heretics; but the Lateran council, under Leo, decreed, that the pope was above the council; and that whoever thought otherwise should be held for a heretic.
The council of Trent commanded that Bishops should teach the people, and should have no more benefit for preferment, than one place; but they have since made this decree void, and now whole countries are too little for them; and Protestants imitate the same.
What has been the validity of these councils of men, acting out of the life and power of God, which bring the Seed of God into bondage? Now, Rome, look to your infallibility, universality; and unity, which you so much cry up, one while setting up one thing, and another throwing it down again, when it will not serve particular interests.
Thus people have been led up and down for many generations; and there has been persecution about changeable and alterable things; and the Life, which redeems out of the world unto God, has not been sought after. Let all who desire to have peace, and to enjoy the testimony of God's blessed Spirit, come out of this Babylon, this-city of confusion, whose seat is erected upon the sand, whose foundation is laid in the waters, and whose faith is placed upon human institutions; which are variable and subject to mutation. Let them come to know "the Rock of Ages," and the unalterable council of the Lord, and the wisdom of the Most High, to rule in their hearts. Let them wait in the immortal Light of God, which is within, that they may see over all these mountains of darkness, which are risen up in the apostasy; and over all the institutions, decrees, statutes, ordinances, and inventions of men; and come to Him who is "the Beginning of the creation of God," who is that quickening spirit, by which all who believe are raised out of death, and made partakers of the Life, which is immortal, which fades not away; and then they will be enabled to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.
Away with all types, figures, shadows, and veils, with human institutions and ordinances of men, ceremonies and vain superstitions traditions, which God has no pleasure in, which do not profit at all; for the Life is risen; "the veil of the covering, which bas been spread over all nations," is rent; the night has gone; the day has come, and has appeared in brightness; the shadows have passed away, and the morning of Righteousness has appeared; the Son of God, who has given to his flock an understanding, has come, in whom life, blessedness, and everlasting consolation reside; which He causes to rest upon his people for evermore.
How All May Come Out of the Apostasy
So far as has God appeared, or manifested Himself to the sons of men in any age, by shadows, figures, or other outward appearances, the evil spirit, serpent's seed, and evil doer, always took up the form ofthe thing, when it came into reputation.
The Jews held up the types, figures, and ordinances of the first Covenant, and opposed Christ, the Light and Everlasting Covenant, and also those who preached or published Him. And when the name of Christ came to be spread abroad, false apostles and deceitful workers, who were enemies to the Cross, and to the Power of God, preached Christ out of contention and envy, and for filthy lucre [money]; and by wicked practices made the name of Christian odious among the heathen; and, by their ungodly deeds, caused the worthy name by which the saints are saved, to be blasphemed.
When the apostle gathered together many that believed, and settled them in the order of the Gospel, and that order and the conversation of the saints came to be of good account, false apostles and deceitful workers got up; and as the apostles and saints met together in houses, the false apostles crept into their houses, and held the form but denied the power; and such were to be turned away from, according to the exhortation of the apostle to Timothy.
Since the true Church fled into the wilderness the false church came into visibility, to sit as a Queen upon the waters, the nations and peoples; other things have been brought in, which were not institutions of Christ or of the primitive Churches; and these the world has wandered after, in the dark night of apostasy, in which the worship has been made up partly from that of the Jews, partly from that of the heathen, and partly of the inventions of those who were in the apostasy; they being corrupted, and the Scriptures having been perverted every way, to confirm all this deceit.
Many have judged, that to relinquish the former superstitious practices, and to take up the form and practice again in the outward, as it was in the days of the apostles, is to come out of the apostasy. But let all know this, that the worship and service which God now requires, and that alone in which He will manifest Himself, is in the Spirit; which all people are to wait for, that they may come to the end of the night of error, and witness restoration to the Bride the Lamb's Wife.
Now a measure of God's Spirit is given to everyone to profit withal, which, as it is attended to, shows what is sin, transgression, formal worship, and the transformations of deceit, and leads those who believe in it, out of that which is polluted, to Christ, the sure foundation, and mighty power of God; and causes them to know the peace of God, and good will to all men. That which will restore all those who believe in it, must all wait for, and witness it to be made manifest in their hearts, and receive it. This will bring them out of the apostasy; but without this they can neither come out of it, nor see the end of those things which are to be abolished; for it is the mighty Power of God alone, which must be witnessed and received by every man who comes to be a living stone of the holy city, a living son of the free woman, and a true member of the Heavenly Jerusalem, which is from above.
These sayings are faithful and true; and blessed is he who hears, believes, and receives them.
LETTERS TO THE FLOCK
AN EPISTLE TO FRIENDS IN IRELAND
To all of you who believed the report, and who received the testimony, and to whom the word of the Lord came in power, to the turning of you, in any measure, from darkness to light, our souls’ wish and desire the multiplying and abounding of the grace and love of God in you and among you; that thereby, you may grow in union and favor with God, and into the fellowship with all the Children of the Light; and may be nourished as newborn babes, by the milk of the word, which endures forever. And truly, though we are now separated from you in the body, we are present with you in spirit, not ceasing in prayer to God for you; but with heart breathings to Him, our souls are poured out at the throne of Grace on your behalf that your faith may not be made void, knowing your state and condition; being full sensible of your weakness to resist temptations of the enemy, but young and tender in the experience of the way and operation of God; and unacquainted with the wiles of Satan, who will not cease in seeking whom he may devour, and whom he may lead aside in the bypaths of iniquity, from the obedience and faith in Christ Jesus; that shipwreck may be made of those good desires now begotten in you, through the ministry of Christ sent to you; by whom a good work has begun in you, which will bring forth the redemption and salvation of your souls, if you abide in the patience, enduring the cross and sufferings unto the end.
And dear friends, this charge, in the name of the Lord, we lay upon you; that in the fear of the Lord, you meet together, waiting in the patient hope, in the Light which leads out of the night and out of all the works of darkness, unto the day, glory, and rising of the Sun of Righteousness that all clouds and veils may be removed and the night of darkness and stumbling may be wholly finished; that as Children of the Light, and of the day, you may walk, bringing forth fruits of righteousness, to the glory of God; being judged in the flesh, and condemned as men in the flesh, and changed, from its nature of transgression and disobedience, into the Divine nature of God, and into the likeness of the Father; that from this time forward, as a people redeemed by Him, and saved by Him, you may serve Him in newness of life, by the Spirit of his Son; who dwells in you, as you dwell in the Light.
May the Lord God Almighty preserve you, to the finishing of your course with joy, in the way of the Lord; that you may know as you are known; and victory may be given you over death, hell, and the grave; and that through the war you may partake of the crown immortal, which fades not away. Therefore be faithful in obedience to the will of God, made manifest in the Light, which condemns the evil, and chooses the good. Daily become subject to the cross of Christ, taking up his yoke and burden, which kills and crucifies the fleshly man, with his affections, desires, and lusts; that being slain to all mortal, you may reign immortality over all your enemies inward and outward; against which you are to war, even against spiritual wickedness in high places, and against exalting thoughts and imaginations. Therefore put on the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ, and gird yourselves with his power; and be low in heart, and subject to the Father in all things; and be not high-minded, but fear; and stand in awe, and sin not; neither flee from the cross of Christ, but let it be your rejoicing; and let love abound among you, even the love with which you are loved by the Father; being of one heart, and like minded with one another, and forgiving one another, and humbly reproving one another, if any are overtaken with a fault.
Wait for discerning, to have salt in yourselves, to know and savor one another in the spirit, and operation, and working of it; that being sensible, and feeling one another’s conditions in the spirit, you may speak to the informing of one another, to the building up on one another, in the precious faith. But be slow to speak, and swift to hear; and do not feed each other’s sensual wisdom, which is the serpent’s seat. For words without knowledge darken counsel, and betray simplicity. But take heed to the measure of the Light of Christ, and be watchful in it; having the loins of your minds girded up, as obedient servants, waiting for the will of God; to be doers of his will from the simplicity and sincerity of the heart. Be watchful, for fear that the tempter by imaginations presents himself in a way and voice, like the way and voice of the True Shepard; and thereby the simplicity is ensnared, and your way and savor is lost, and darkness and clouds come over you; and so deceit strengthens itself; and takes an offence in Christ Jesus. The last end of which will be worse than the beginning, and the way of truth will be blasphemed; and the grace of God will be turned into lack of restraint; and the door of Life will be shut against them. But be upright hearted; and single minded unto the end; for he who overcomes shall eat of the hidden manna. Rev 2:17, John 6:31-35.
Do not strive with each another, neither judge each other, in whatever you do not see in the Light; but keep at home in your own conditions, waiting until judgment is perfected in victory, and your redemption is brought forth. Though you have trouble in the world, and suffering and reproaches from it; yet in Christ shall you have peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For your present troubles, and sufferings, are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in you. Coming through the same entrance of tribulations with us, you shall be made partakers of the same life, and glory, and inheritance, to rejoice, and sing the song of the Lamb for evermore, over the beast, and over his mark, and over the number of his name.
All of you, whether masters or servants, parents or children; whatever calling or condition, walk as becomes the gospel of Christ Jesus, in all holiness, and purity, and humility in your conduct; and be examples of righteousness to each other, that in your several places you may honor Him who has called you, by works of faith and righteousness; that thereby the mouth of those who wait for your halt of progress may be stopped; and by your good works God may be glorified in the sight of your enemies. For the gospel preached to you was not to lead into words only, but into life and power, and our unity stands with those who are in the life and power; and we shall never be ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. Therefore dear children, be diligent in the Lord's work, and steadfast in watching over your own hearts in particular; and watch over one another in general for good, and not evil; that you may grow up into one body, members of one head, joined by the Spirit to Christ Jesus, who is the Light of the world; upon whom you have believed to your salvation, if you continue in the faith. And your rock of defense and salvation, has become the stumbling stone, and rock of offence to the princes and to the rulers. Beloved, truly our bowels are troubled for you, not being ignorant of the very purpose of Satan; who has now stirred up his agents, thinking to make void your faith and belief, and even to slay the child [within] while he is young: but our confidence in the Lord in this is strong, that He will preserve you to his praise, and the little seed shall never be forgotten of Him; but though it was sown in weakness, it shall arise, and spring, and be raised in power to the torment of all the Lord's enemies.
You whose hearts God has touched, and who have entered into the way, look not back at any glory left behind; but freely give up all, and press on in the straight way, through the death of the enmity upon the cross; and as you deny yourselves for Christ, so will your reward be from Him manifold. Dwell in the judgment until the ground of all unrighteousness is removed; and so eternal peace be manifested to the seed of immortality. Do not look back at hardships or at the multitudes of temptations; but mind the Light, which is the whole armor of God, whereby you will receive strength to overcome all your enemies; and the Covenant of God will be established with you, in which you will receive the blessing in all things, and will know how to use all things to the glory of God; seeing his pure presence in all his blessings. Stand always in the cross to the carnal, and your understandings will be kept open and clear, to receive the pure teachings of the Father; and his wisdom from above will grow in you; and the wisdom of the earthly will die. If you abide in the Light that is from the beginning, you need no one to teach you; but by the anointing which you will receive, you will be taught all things in the way of God perfectly; and so stand witnesses for the Lord, and against all the world and its deceits. Beware of the love of the world; and of the bad ground; and of the envious man, for fear that he sow tares among the good seed, and so you become corrupted, and the just principle in you is betrayed; and so Satan exalts himself above the measure of God's Spirit revealed in you; and so you perish in the arguing. But our hearts hope better things of you, even your growth into the inheritance with Christ; to reign with Him over the world, in the incorruptible inheritance; that we may reign together in one heart and mind, one with another. And truly herein will our joy be increased, in the midst of our troubles and sufferings, to hear and understand of your faithfulness and obedience, in the faith of the gospel declared unto you.
To the Grace of God, upon whom you have believed, we do commit you, in the bowels of everlasting love and pity, with tenderness of soul and spirit, to be kept in the power of God unto the day of salvation. The eternal presence of the Lord God, the Everlasting Father be with you all. Amen, Amen.
We are yours in the Lord and are fellow
prisoners for the testimony of Jesus, which we
hold, known to you, and not to the world.
AN EPISTLE TO FRIENDS IN LONDON
A servant of Jesus Christ, unto all chosen, obedient, and faithful friends and brethren, in and about London, wishes an increase of righteousness, faith, obedience, patience, and love, that you may know and feel an increase in the increase of God; that your joy, rest, and peace may be full in Him, who is eternal life itself: who has brought, and is bringing immortality to light through the Gospel, unto all, and in all who receive it, and believe in it; which is the power of God unto salvation, unto all who believe. By it alone is the remission and forgiveness of sins witnessed; and in no other name but his, who is the mighty power of God, is eternal life witnessed, or victory and dominion over sin, the world, and the devil, even by Christ Jesus, the Word of God, the Power of God; by which power alone is strength and victory witnessed over death and the grave, by all who believe in Him, and receive Him; and to them He gives power to become the sons of God, and to receive an inheritance with the saints in light, among those who are sanctified. Therefore, dearly beloved in the Lord, fulfill our joy who have labored and travailed among you; and have declared unto you the Gospel, which is preached unto every creature under heaven; and the common salvation which was delivered to the saints, who are at rest in the Lord; and is now again delivered and declared unto us, in this his own day of mercy, love, and grace; and the revelation of his righteousness; that they without us might not be made perfect; for all make up but one body, and if a member is lacking, the body is not perfect.
You yourselves are our witnesses, that we preached unto you Christ the Lord, whom we were made partakers of; and ourselves only your servants, for his sake. The Lord is our witness, and his Spirit in you all is our witness, that we followed not devised fables; neither, through enticing words of the wisdom of men declared we unto you; nor handled we the word of truth deceitfully, but in much fear, and soberness, and tenderness unto all in whom there was any ear to hear, or any desire in their hearts after the Lord. Neither did we seek to exercise dominion over you; but rejoiced when any had dominion in the Lord over deceit; and when they reigned we reigned also. We gave no place, not for a moment, to those who reigned without us, and not in the Lord, and would have entered through deceit and craft in any way into the vineyard of the Lord, and have spoiled the plants, and would have subverted from the faith. The righteous indignation of the Lord, will fall on those who have made the offence of the cross to cease, and gloried in the flesh, and would have brought all there [back into the flesh] again, and have made havoc of the flock of Christ for whom he died, and would have had them to have lived and reigned, who put Him to death; and counted that which cleansed from sin, a vain and a low thing.
Dearly beloved of the Lord, who are obedient unto the word of his grace, these things are come as a trial, that none may take future glory in man, nor in anything but in the Lord, the Life itself, and in them who are in theLife; and everyone may keep to his own singly; and so will not be easily moved. You whom the Lord has kept in the hour of trial and temptation, so that you joined not with the error of the wicked, prize his love and keep low; stand in awe of the pure presence of the Lord, else you will know his wrath to be kindled against you again; but the fear, awe, and dread of the Lord keeps you clean, clear, and pure in his sight. All mind the first love, and that which keeps your hearts open and tender to the Lord, and one to another. Put away all strife and contention; watch out for one another's halting for what would rejoice in that is in the transgression itself. Dwell in love and peace one with another. Take heed of security, and carelessness, and ease in the flesh; for that will bring poverty, dryness, and barrenness among you.
But all feel the life and the power of God; and let your faith stand in it alone; and those who trust in it shall never be moved for there you will be preserved out of the changeableness and changeable things, which adulterate the mind from God, who never changes.
He who has the key of David, opens the door of the treasure house of eternal wisdom; and unto everyone He gives a measure according to the good pleasure of his will. To those who wait upon Him, and are faithful, He gives of his wisdom and knowledge, which are past finding out by the children of disobedience, whose wisdom is corrupt; but in all who believe, He pours out a measure of his spirit of Life, of purity, and power; and in the measure all who wait have unity with Him, who is the fullness of all things; and of his fullness receive grace for grace. His righteousness, love, wisdom, mercy, and fullness are revealed from faith to faith. As you believe, so are you near to Him, whose ways cannot be measured; and as you grow in the faith of Him, and in Him, who has enlightened you and shined in your Hearts, you will see more of his love, of his purity, holiness, wisdom, and glory, and feel and understand of Him, and from Him, who is invisible and eternal; blessed forever and ever. Amen
So friends, all press on towards the mark that you may know completeness in Him, who is all fair, and altogether lovely; and you who know his love, and the beloved, hold Him fast forever, and do not let Him go. Nothing can separate [your from Him] but an unchaste heart. But if you join to any strange flesh or idols, or other lovers, and so draw your love from Him, be sure of this: He will hide his countenance from you; and then sorrow will fill your hearts. So look not to Egypt again, nor to what you have parted with, for fear that you will be turned into a pillar of salt. “Remember Lot's wife." There are many of the same nature with her, who are for an example, that you may forever beware, for fear that the same root of bitterness springs up as has done among many, upon whom nothing is to be expected, but daily fearful looking for of the daily judgments of God for their ungodly deeds and hard speeches against the Truth and the servants of it.
All abide in the cross, that the nature out of which the lusts and the war arise against the Lord, may wither, die, and be worn out; and so you will see more rest and peace in and with the Lord; and He that has begun the work will finish the work. All power is committed to Him, both in heaven and earth. He will work righteousness in the earth, and preserve all in peace in Himself forever, who believe in his power.
So friends, this I must say: If you are hard-pressed, it is in your own bowels; as sometimes I have said when I was present with you, even the same I write now. Destruction is of self; and barrenness is of self; but as you believe in Him who is near, and in his grace, self is judged and bruised under; and you will feel Him who is the first and last to enlarge your borders, and make your mountain strong, and your heritage goodly, and your ground fair and pleasant, where the pleasant fruit of righteousness is brought forth; which grows in the valleys of righteousness, where the beds are green, and the garden is, which gives a sweet smell; and where all who dwell, live, and abide, are fresh, beautiful, and lovely in the sight of the Lord, and in the sight of all the children of Light forever.
Friends, above all things keep low [humble]; and do not judge yourselves, nor esteem yourselves above what is fit. Beware of conceit and pride, and exaltation, and presumption, and arguing, and resisting those who have labored among you in the word of doctrine; whose example you have daily as a pattern before you. Let there be no boasting, or contentions, or strife, or imitation, or speculating; but in singleness of heart, all bear and forbear one another; and let the same mind be in you as was in Christ Jesus; so peace will be in your dwellings, and rest and prosperity in your habitations; and plenty, and riches from above of the heavenly wisdom will be multiplied in your meetings; and the pure presence of God and his power will compass you about, who are of an upright heart to the Lord. That you may be examples and patterns of holiness and righteousness in your generation; that your enemies may confess God is truly among you. So the power of the Lord Jesus Christ rest and abide among you all, that you may continue to the end; which is the desire of Him that shall rejoice in nothing more than in the prosperity of you all, in the everlasting truth of the Son of God, heir of all things, blessed forever, and ever, world without end.
A servant to the least, for the Truth's sake.
A GENERAL EPISTLE TO THE SEED OF GOD
Dear friends everywhere, who have believed in our Lord Jesus Christ, and are called with a holy calling to the great salvation of God, which is manifest in this the day of his power; keep your first love, and let not the threats of men, neither the frowns of the world, frighten you from that which you have prized more than all the world. Now the sun is up, and a time of scorching has come, and what has no root will wither; now every ground will be tried; and blessed is the good ground that brings forth the Seed which must inherit the promise. O! let not the cares of this present life choke that which God has begotten; and, seeing the Lord has so marvelously wrought for us here, in the midst of great opposition, do not let your faith fail, nor your confidence in God; who delivered Jacob of old out of his adversity and Israel out of all his troubles; whose care is over his people now.
And having seen the emptiness of the world, and its ways and worship, let nothing blind your eyes again; and let not the things present, nor things to come, separate you from the love of God In Christ Jesus; and pay no attention to those who draw back to perdition, but let it teach all the more diligence, to be as those who press after glory, immortality, and everlasting life. The way of God was ever hated by the world, and the powers thereof. Never heed the rough spirits, for their bound is set, and their limit known, but mind the Seed which has dominion over all; and forsake not the assembling of ourselves together, in which you have found God and his promise and power among you, and your understanding opened. O! Rather suffer all things, than let that go in what you have believed; for whosoever does, will lose the evidence of God's Spirit in them; and their peace and joy will be lost. May the Lord God preserve you all unto the end faithful.
Your dear brother, for the testimony of Jesus,
Dear friends and brethren, who have been called to believe by the holy calling of the Lord, unto sanctification and holiness, that you might inherit the promises of God; and that your souls might live, and partake of his goodness; that you might admire Him, and praise his Name forever, seeing the Lord, out of his rich love and mercy, has visited you, who sometime sat in the region and shadow of death, and were cast out of his presence, in the time of unbelief; and seeing He has caused his miraculous Light to shine upon you in his gracious visitation, and has given you to believe in his name, prize his love unto you; and let not his gracious benefits slip out of your minds; for fear that your hearts be filled with other things; that will corrupt your hearts, and make you an unfit habitation for the Lord to dwell in and among.
Dear friends! Bear my brotherly admonition and exhortation for the Lord has moved in my heart to write unto you in the bowels of his kind and tender love, and motion of his heavenly Spirit, to stir up your pure minds and consciences unto steadfastness in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ; and so much the more, that you all are watchful, seeing the times are perilous; for now the adversary goes about roaring and ravening, on the right hand and on the left, to destroy and devour that which God has brought forth in you; that he might regain you too under his power and government; and that he might revolt from the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, which stands in power and righteousness, and which is come, and has been of a truth manifested in great glory.
This is an hour the power of darkness is let loose to try the faith of those who dwell upon the earth; and he is let loose for a season. Blessed are those who hide themselves under the shadow of the Almighty, and under the wings of Christ Jesus, who is given for a redeemer, a savior, and a preserver of men, that the wicked one touches them not. Now the devil rages, because one stronger than he who rules in the world has come, and has begun to dispossess the strong man, and bind him, and cast him out. Now he rages and stirs up all the temptations, within and without, and all his instruments to join with him, to make war for him; in order that Christ may not rule; who is the heir of all things, and given for a leader, and to be the head of the body his Church, in which He alone has a right to rule; because the Lord of the whole earth, yes of heaven and earth, has put all power into his hands, to bind and to loose; to bring out of captivity, and to lead captivity captive. That life and immortality may again inhabit in the sons of men. That truth and righteousness may predominate. That mercy and love may sit on the throne. That salvation may take hold on the ends of the earth, and this power be made known from sea to sea. That all who wait for Him and love his appearance now when He is made manifest, may rejoice in goodness and life, and may be made glad as Zebulun and Naphtali beyond Jordan, in the days of old, upon whom sprung up a marvelous light. That the whole earth may be filled with his praise and glory, which has been filled with darkness, violence, and cruelty, in the time of the devil and antichrist's reign, which has been long and great in the earth. So that the hearts of the sons of men have been corrupted, and they have gone backward from the Lord; and have degenerated into a strange nature; and have brought forth evil and corrupt fruit like that of Sodom. Those who do evil are not ashamed, neither do they blush, but have become impudent through long habit of evil, and hard and impenetrable; upon whom the hammer of the Lord must come, and His indignation poured on.
But you whom God has called out of this state, into a state of redemption and purity, by his Son, the Light of the world, who has illuminated the eyes of your minds, consciences, and understandings, that you may bear witness to Him who is true, and a testimony against the world that lies in wickedness, and pleads for it, and lives in it, as though it were the way to happiness, - hold fast your liberty, hold fast your faith, hold fast your hope, hold fast your testimony. Let none take your crown; and so much the more as you are compassed with temptations, and the times are perilous; so much the more you all have need to keep near the Lord.
Dearly beloved, let not the Philistines stop your wells; for then you might perish in the drought, for lack of moisture. The Lord will perform his promise, and keep covenant with those who keep covenant with Him; but if you forsake Him in your hearts in what is made manifest, then He will forsake you; and then you are left to the mercy of your adversary, which will be cruel. Therefore heed not the pride of Moab, nor the reviling of the children of Ammon; for they are unholy in heart, and the moth shall eat them up as a garment.
Oh! If any draw back from following the Lamb through suffering, they will be smitten; and the Lord will have no pleasure in them. What will Amalek say, when Israel turn their backs in the day of battle, but, "Where is their God, in whom they trusted?" And, "He that brought them forth was not able to deliver them to the end!" Oh! That such things might never be spoken of now in Gath or Ashkelon; as in the days of old! For fear that the sons of the Philistines triumph, and the daughters thereof rejoice in their wickedness; for this would make the hearts of the Israel of God to mourn.
This is the day of the Lamb's war indeed in our age, and a day of battle, though his weapons are not carnal, but spiritual. There is none that goes to war, and entangles himself, that has a purpose to hold out and is resolved to continue with Him in suffering; but will shake off these things that encumber, for fear that he should not obtain the victory, promise, or crown, which all who endure hardship to the end shall receive. O dear friends! Look above all visible things; and stand out of them all, and loose from them, that the enemy does not ensnare you. What! Is not the earth the Lord's, and the fullness thereof? And has not He given the utmost part of the earth for a possession to his Son? What! Was not Abraham our father blessed, when he was faithful, and obeyed the voice of the Lord; and went out of his own country, he knew not where? Was not the Lord with him wherever he went; and his blessing upon him, when he sojourned in a strange land? Did not God treat him kindly in Mesopotamia, and among the Hittites? And was not he loved and feared among his enemies? Was not John, the beloved and faithful disciple of Christ, banished into Patmos for the testimony he held? Were not Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, children of captivity, cast into the furnace? And Daniel too among the lions, for the testimony they held against the common worship of nations commanded by the law.
Did not Christ endure the death of the cross, and the contradiction of sinners? Was He not condemned by most? Did not the believing Hebrews, who were banished, wander in sheep skins and goat skins, into dens and caves of the earth, for the hope they held and the country they looked for? Did not Moses through faith forsake Pharaoh’s court, and become companion of poor brick-makers in captivity?
A cloud of witnesses might be brought, even of those who died in the faith, and yet are not make partakers of the promises, who many of them saw not what you have seen, nor heard those things that you have heard; nor enjoyed what God has made many partakers of; and have we not a great cloud of witnesses in this our own age? Some who have not loved their lives unto death, for the testimony they received, believed, and held fast to the end, to death? Have not many died in prison with severe usage? Have not some been hung and died a shameful death, and finished their course with joy and peace? Have not many endured great, hard, and long imprisonments for years? Are they weary yet? No, have not many suffered the seizure of their property; and do they not have a reward seven times greater in their bosoms?
O! Let the consideration of these things dwell in your hearts, and provoke you to suffering with joy, that in the midst of tribulation, as it abounds, you may feel according to the promise of God, your joy much more abound, to carry you above it. Indeed, now the time has come, whoever manifests himself to be on the Lord's side must suffer; and he who will not, but turns back into the broad way, and runs with the herd of swine into the sea of common pollution, must perish there; and indeed there is no place for halting. If God is God, follow Him; if Baal is he, go after him. Therefore let none draw you aside from what you are persuaded of in your conscience by the Spirit of the Lord; neither join with that you know He disallows; and in the obedience you will have peace and joy. Look not at those who draw back, for they go to perdition, but rather after those who continue faithful, who shall receive honor, glory, immortality and everlasting life.
In the fresh, heavenly power of God, meet together and worship Him, as at other times; though the decree has gone forth; and the more because you have been therein refreshed, comforted, and edified; and let none persuade you from that innocent duty, in worshiping God in his Spirit, and assembling yourselves together, for the strengthening of one another. For this is the will of God, and acceptable in his sight; as many of you well know. Watch and pray, for fear that you fall into temptation, and into the snare of the wicked one. The God of heaven and earth establish all your hearts, that you may glorify Him in your generation, and be a sweet smell unto Him in bonds or liberty, in life or death, is the prayer of him who has sought the Lord, and is determined so to do on all your behalf, until the Lord by his power, treads Satan under your feet, that you may triumph over all, rejoicing and praising God, and the Lamb, that lives forever, for evermore, Amen.
Your dear brother in the patience and sufferings of Christ, who abounds in perfect love to all the faithful flock of Christ everywhere,
From Appleby Jail, the place of my rest,
where my days and hours are pleasant unto me,
A GENERAL EPISTLE TO ALL WHO HAVE BELIEVED IN THE
LIGHT OF THE LORD JESUS,
Dear friends, who are called out of the world and the vanities of it, to serve the Living God in newness of life, and to be worshipers of Him in spirit and in truth, and to be followers of Christ in the regeneration, and to be baptized with Him into his suffering and death; that so you may be partakers of his resurrection and life, and manifest unto all that you are risen with Him, out of the grave of sin, wickedness, and death, by having your hearts renewed, and your affections and minds set to seek those things which are above, which are not transitory and visible, but everlasting and immortal; by which the souls of all the righteous and obedient children are refreshed, and nourished up to eternal Life; through the eternal power of the Son of God, which has been and is manifest among those who believe in the measure of his Spirit, and keep their first love and integrity unto the Lord. All his are preserved out of the temptation of the adversary within and without, who seeks to root out that which God has planted, and to nip the blossom and the bud which God has caused to spring forth, through his tender love in, our hearts, so that you might die to the good, and be spoiled in that wherein all your happiness lies now and forever.
O! Therefore, all watch and be circumspect, so much the more against temptations, for fear that you fall and be ensnared, and your faith fail, and you fall short of the promise of God in not continuing faithful to the end. Friends, a care, and a tender love, and a godly jealousy is in my heart to you, and over you all who have believed; that none of you may be lost, and scattered again in the deserts and mountains, and dry and parched places, where you have sometimes been in the time of unbelief; where the goats that are rough can feed, that must go to the left hand and have the curse.
The zeal of the Lord and his truth, who so gloriously has been manifest among you, above all the people and families of the earth in our generation, constrains me thus to write to you; and to stir you up unto faithfulness in this day of trial. For now Satan desires to winnow you within, and to sift you without. Therefore all watch and pray, that your faith fails not, which now will be tried, and also your hope, and your love, and your zeal to the Lord and his truth; proving whether your will is for him before men; his way, worship, laws, and statutes, which He has revealed in your hearts, which fallen men oppose, and contradict, and argue against, and would not have Him to rule, nor his servants to obey. So let it be manifest to all, that you fear God rather than men, and love Him, and obey Him above the precepts of men which are against Him; and whether you love the things that are above beyond the things that are earthly; and whether you will own Him, his cross, reproach, and suffering, or deny Him and have the liberty or the world, which is bondage, and free from righteousness.
It is no time of reserves, concealing, hovering, or halting; for there is an utter discord between Christ and Belial. As Christ, his power, and kingdom, are brought forth; so much the more are the hatred, envy, and wrath of the devil kindled, who has deceived the nations, blinded their eyes, and manifested himself in his subjects who oppose the Lamb of God, and tread under foot the blood of the Covenant. Therefore all children of the day, put on the amour of Light and have your feet shod now when we walk through thorny places; and be not fearful or doubtful, but of believing hearts. Stand not aloof and idle when others are engaged in the spiritual war. Pull not your necks out of the yoke when others draw. Shelter not yourselves when you see others in jeopardy. Love not the world when you see others have thrown it off. Be not entangled in cumbersome things when you see others throw off all weights. Turn not your backs in the day of controversy; but follow the Lamb.
This is the day of tribulation in which we have to follow Him in our age, like as all the martyrs and prophets had in their age; whose garments were made white in the blood of the Lamb. So all who continue and are not faint hearted, shall receive the crown, the honor, the reward; and they shall reign with Christ, who now suffer with Him. Therefore all dear children of God, and followers of Christ Jesus, let the loins of your minds be girded up; be now ready when the Lord calls: "Who is on my side? Who will take part with Me? Who will own my reproach? Who will engage with Me? Who will gather to my standard of salvation lifted up, and to my ensign of righteousness, held forth in the world to redeem it?" May all say in their hearts: "Here am I, ready to do your will, ready to obey you and follow you, and to suffer for you;" for whoever draws back the Lord has no pleasure in him.
He who will save his life shall lose it; and he who will save his liberty shall lose it in the Spirit; and he who will save his earthly possession, and for it will deny what God has persuaded him that he ought to be faithful in, he will lose his inheritance in the heavenly kingdom.
In a word, whoever fails in holding forth the testimony, which they know God requires, and that it is their duty to render unto Him, will lose the testimony of his Spirit, which they have sometimes felt in themselves, and will decay; and their love will wear out. Therefore, whoever is resigned and given up unto the Lord, will be approved, and manifested to be on the Lord's part, by obedience to these things mentioned.
Friends, do you not believe it a duty that every Christian ought to be exercised in, to meet together to wait upon God, to worship Him, and to admonish, exhort, and strengthen one another; to pray together in the Holy Ghost, and one for another; and to edify and comfort one another? Do you not believe that "God dwells not in temples made with hands," neither has any fellowship with idols; but is worshiped anywhere, and in every place where the saints meet in his name? Again, have you not been comforted, edified, and strengthened in meeting; and have you not found the presence of the Lord and his face; and have you not felt his great power working in your hearts, when you were assembled together in his Name; working in you to the opening of your hearts, and quickening and enlivening your souls to God, and judging down the evil? Have you not felt his loving mercies shed abroad in you, and the spring of Life opened, and the holy Seed refreshed, and God's witness reached in all, and many convinced and converted unto God in your assemblies; so that all have gone away comforted and refreshed, and resolved to continue in the grace of God.
The consideration of these things dwelling in your hearts, and the sense of your own present condition, should stir you up and provoke you unto steadfastness, in the faith and practice you have received and walked in, from the beginning of the manifestation of God's love to you; so that there should need little exhortation. God's enemies are resolved to do you wickedly; you also be resolved to do your duty. They seek by any means to make any fall from their principles and steadfastness. Do you seek to escape their snares, and to be kept clear in your consciences before God? Be valiant for the Truth; sell it not, but sell all for it, that it may be your all; and then you shall see your lot is fallen in a good place, and that your possession is pleasant.
The Lord calls now to suffering; now put your necks into the yoke, "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ:" and take heed you don’t listen to that which speaks: "Save your liberty; save your estate; possess your own, and provide for yourself; and spare yourself;” that is the voice of the enemy of your souls. So keep over the world and its spirit; let no slackness appear, for that makes sufferings longer; and that gives ground to your adversaries to hope that they shall prevail; and that weakens the hands of others and does not strengthen. This confirms our enemies in their belief that we are only like other men and people, who have professed God in summer and fair weather but will make shipwreck of all in a storm and in suffering; and any turning aside from the holy commandment of God opens the mouth of God's enemies. Seek not every one your own profit, ease, life, and, liberty only; but every one another's good; and mind not only one member, but the whole body. Heed not those who draw back; they are no precedent for you to follow; but those who press forward, and are not offended in the time of hardship, they are your precedent. Heed not those who will tell you they can keep their heads upright to God, and retain their love to truth and friends; and yet will not afford their presence in your assemblies, but escape suffering, and deny the cross, and neglect their present duty; for that is deceit; and their own hearts will deceive them.
Do not put off until tomorrow; do not defer the time until you can see some more ease, and some greater calm. Beware of that; for then coldness, fearfulness, and slavishness will enter in, and you will lose your strength. Moreover, if any, have begun well, and are persuaded of the truth of what they have believed, and do not continue to the end, and do not finish; such will be reckoned foolish builders, that could not finish; and all will mock them; and our adversaries will glory over them.
Again, when any suffer or are brought into bonds for Christ and the Gospel's sake, let them not seek to get out by any indirect means, neither make any covenant with the adversary, who would sell both them, and all faith and hope for money; for that encourages deceit; and that spirit would buy itself out of the service of God, and grow weary. Give no place to that; be content everyone with your present condition, until God arises and pleads our cause, and make our innocence and righteousness appear as noon day, and makes his adversaries his footstool; which undoubtedly He will do, and makes all know that the Most High ought to rule, and will rule in the kingdoms of men; and not give his glory to another, neither allow another to take it.
Be conformable to none that go about under pretence of love, to persuade or counsel you from your duty to God; neither submit to those who would betray you of your peace. Heed not the frowns of corrupt men, nor the counsel of those who mind their own pleasure, ease, profit, and earthly things; let not natural affections and love, either to lands, wife, or children, blind your eyes; but love them, and receive them in the Lord, and enjoy them as though they hindered not. Stand loose from all things, and out of entanglements; and cast your care upon the Lord, who cares for the fatherless and the widow, and those who have no helper in the earth. Give no occasion or advantage to any that would turn your hearts aside from following the Lord; for fear that their love betrays you. Give up all you have and enjoy to the Lord and his service; and your souls, bodies, and spirits, as a sacrifice unto the Lord, that He may accept you, and pour forth and continue his blessing among you. Never heed the threats of those who are as the oaks of Bashan, nor of the men of the earth, that mind their pleasure and lusts; who shut you up in prison, and hale you before judgment-seats for the worship of God, and falsely accuse you, and condemn you when God justifies you.
Friends! Dwell above all these things, and the devil and his rage. The earth is the Lord's and the fullness of it; we cannot be banished from God's presence, neither shall they ever be able to root out that testimony which is among us. The God of power strengthen you all; that you may conduct yourselves like men of God, like children of the Most High, whose inheritance is not here in the world, but in the kingdom that fades not away.
The Lord God of power be with you, make you consider what I say, and cause you to receive this my true love unto you all, for the Lord's sake; who partakes with all the suffering members of Christ in their bonds; and shall, and can rejoice in your comfort and joy. The peace of God dwell in your hearts, and his heavenly Light shine upon all your tabernacles; that you may be as beautiful in the eyes of the Lord, as the roses of Sharon; and blossom as the lilies of the valley; and yield your fruit as the fig-tree that casts not her fruit. The Lord takes our part; let none doubt of that; - and pleads our cause; let all consider that ; - our enemies shall see it, and be troubled at this; and time shall manifest it; therefore be of believing hearts, and trust in the Lord; so shall you never be confounded, neither be ashamed; but be as Mount Zion that cannot be removed. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so shall the mercies of the Lord compass you about, from this time forth and for evermore.
Friends, faith is sealed in my heart, and love in my veins, and gladness in my soul, and peace in my conscience; so that none does or can hinder my rejoicing. Praise be to the Lord forever and ever. Amen.
The Lord's servant, and yours in all true, unfeigned, pure love.
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