BABYLON THE GREAT
THE CITY OF CONFUSION
IN EVERY PART WHERE ANTICHRIST REIGNS
WHICH DOES NOT KNOW THE ORDER AND UNITY OF THE SPIRIT,
WITH SOME PLAIN QUERIES FURTHER TO DISCOVER HER;
BY ISAAC PENINGTON
That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find out? I applied my heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason; and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness. And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, her hands bands. He who is good before God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her. Eccl 7:24-26
On her outside there is the likeness of a church, the likeness of a ministry, the likeness of the ordinances, duties, and ways of holiness.
This, this is the woman who has bewitched the whole earth for these many generations, and is still changing her dresses and paints, that she might still bewitch people, and sit as a queen reigning over their consciences; but blessed is the light which is arisen to discover, and the power which is able to overthrow this stately, this lofty, this mighty city, and all that take part with it.
The Lord God Omnipotent reigns in Zion; and antichrist, with his city Babylon, falls. Sing praises, sing praises, Oh inhabitant of Zion! to him who subjects Babylon, with all her glory, under your feet.
For he brings down those who dwell on high; the lofty city he lays it low; he lays it low, even to the ground; he brings it even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down; the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy. Isaiah 26:5-6.
There has been in me a zeal for God from my childhood, and a most earnest search into the Scriptures, (which my soul deeply relished, and my heart honored and loved, and still does), for the revelation of the mind and will of God. I earnestly searched and begged for two things: the one was for the discovery of the outward way of worship; the other for the inward life, virtue, and power, which I looked upon the outward as the proper means to lead me to. At the beginning of the troubles in these notions, there was a lively stirring in me, and some hope that God was bringing forth. I likewise felt the same stirring in many others, at which my heart rejoiced, and with which my soul was refreshed; but I found it soon begin to flag and wither, which forced me to retire, and to separate from that where I found the life and power dying and decaying. In my separation the Lord was with me; my soul remembers it right well; and he had regard to the simplicity, honesty, and integrity of my heart, which he himself had kindled in me. And though I fell too soon into a way of church-fellowship and ordinances; yet he had regard to me, and pitied me, and refreshed my life even there. But at length the form overgrew us, and the sweet and precious life in us began to die. Then the Lord found out another way to refresh us, (namely, by a sensible relating of our conditions, and of his dealings with us, and workings in us), which was very sweet and precious at first; but the enemy crept in there also. Out of this state I never made any change; but here the hand of the Lord fell upon me, striking at my very root, breaking all my life in pieces, and trampling my crown in the dust. Then I became a man of sorrows, (being stripped of all my life, faith, hope, joy, comfort, in one day), not knowing which way to look, or what to desire. Sometimes there were breathings stirring in me, but they were presently judged; sometimes a little glance of refreshment from a scripture presented to me; but suddenly taken away, and my death and darkness were increased by them. Then I wished, Oh that I might appear before his throne! For surely my conscience is clear in his sight, and I have not wickedly departed from my God, but was broken in pieces by his hand, even while my soul was earnestly seeking after him. Oh how my soul did mourn, to see how I was fit to be made a prey to every ravening spirit! Many sought to devour me, but the hand of the Lord was with me, preserving me, though I knew it not. And though I was wholly broken, and desolate of all that I had called, or could call, knowledge, (so that I could not call anything either good or evil), yet the Lord, by a secret instinct, exceedingly preserved me out of what was evil, and kept my heart secretly panting after the fountain and wellspring of good. Yes, when I was finally, (through deep despair of ever meeting with God any more in this life), captivated by the world, and betrayed by the love of it , (which at last rose up in me, and gained upon me, by persuading me that my present estate and condition did require the free use of it, and the enjoyment of all it could afford), yet the Lord followed me, and often was I visited with secret loathings of the world, and turnings from it, and pantings after the spring of my life. But these were dreaded by me, and suddenly quenched by the evil part in me, for fear of that misery and unutterable anguish which I had previously felt by this; the remembrance of which was fresh in me.
In this my courting of the world, and estrangement from the life, the reasoning part, (which the Lord had been long battering, and had laid very low), gathered strength in me; and I began to grow wise again, and able to judge of the things of God, and to hope and wait for some great appearance, in which at length I might be visited, and meet with what I so vehemently desired, and stood in such need of. By which the enemy deeply deceived me, pleasing me, and keeping me from unity with what alone was able to give me the sight of him, whenever he should appear. And in this fleshly wisdom I judged and despised the true life in others; as weak, low, and not able to bring them to what I stood in need of, and waited for. Yes, the more I considered and reasoned in my mind, and the more I conversed with them, (hoping thereby to find some clear ground either of owning or turning from them), the further off I was; until at length the Lord powerfully touched, and raised up the life in me, (which by all these reasonings and consultations, all this while, I had slain). Then by degrees, (waiting upon that life), I saw, I felt, I tasted, I handled, as the Lord pleased to open to me here, what was shut out from me in my narrowest search and closest reasonings. Thus the Jew in me was cast off, and the Gentile called. But who can read this? I am sure the eye of man's religious wisdom cannot.
Thus my eyes have been opened, and I have seen the chains, by which I have been held captive from my life all my days. Yes, my eye, (in the pure life), has beheld many of the streets and chambers of Babylon, in which the witch dwells which enchants from the life. Yes, I have heard the tongue of the false prophet, which speaks so like the true prophet, so that no flesh can discern or distinguish between them. Yes, I have seen the dragon [Satan] in the temple, worshipped there for God, by the strictest sort of believers. Now, in tender bowels, in the true light of life, from the pure movings of the eternal spirit, (as the Lord pleases to guide and direct), do I go out to visit my poor fellow creatures and captives in Babylon. What I have seen and known, I testify for the relief of others, that, if it is possible, (by the mercy and good hand of God), they may escape that misery with which my poor soul has been overwhelmed, and may come out of that filthy, abominable city which God is making desolate. Where the pure life, the conquering faith, the suffering love, the purifying hope, the putting off of the body of sin, the putting on the living garment, is not and cannot be witnessed, but men are only dreaming of these things in Babylon; where all the satisfaction they have, is from the pleasure of their dream; but when they awake they will find leanness, and poverty, and nakedness upon their souls.
A DESCRIPTION OF BABYLON
Now, though the world is deaf and blind, (even all sorts of worldly believers, from the highest to the lowest), yet open your ears, and hear the joyful sound; open your eyes, and see the city of desolations, and of all the abominations of the earth, (both of flesh and spirit); and feel in yourselves what it is which is to be led out, and what is to lead you; that your feet may be guided to, and set firm upon, Mount Zion; where the life rules over all her enemies.
BABYLON is the spiritual fabric of iniquity; the mystical great city of the great king of darkness; built in imitation of Zion, painted just like Zion, that it might be taken for Zion, and be worshipped there, instead of the true, eternal, ever living God, and King of Zion.
This is the seat of the man of sin; where there is a building framed in any heart, or in any society of men, like Zion. There he lodges, there he lives, there he sits as god, there he reigns, there he is worshipped, there he is exalted above all that can truly be called God in that heart, or in that society.
1. It is a city. This is a proper parable, by which to discover the mystery of iniquity; it is just like a city, in its kind it is a city. In a city there are several streets; in the streets, houses; in the houses, several rooms, to which families and persons appertain; and to all these there are laws and governments. Thus it is here; there are many streets in this city of Babylon, many houses in every street, many rooms in every house; and the houses and rooms have their several families and persons appertaining to them. They have their laws and governments, their knowledge of God and Christ; their order, their worship, their discipline in which they walk, and by which they order themselves in their several services, places, offices, and employments, under the king of Babylon.
2. It is a spiritual or mystical city. It is not an outward building of earthly materials, but an inward building of inward materials. As the outward Zion, the outward Jerusalem, is passed away in its use and service; so the outward Babylon is out of date too. (You do not need look very far to find it.) And as God has built up an inward city, a spiritual building; so has the king of darkness likewise. He could never have tempted people away from the city of the living God, from the city of the mystery of life, except by the city of the mystery of deceit. And as God builds his city of hewn stones, of squared stones, of living stones; so also has the king of darkness his hewings, his squarings, his preparations, his qualifications for his buildings. If the light breaks forth, and makes it appear too obvious to have the whole nation a church, or to admit a whole parish to ordinances, he will gather a church out of the nation, and select some of his choicer stones out of the parish [as he did with the original protestants]. Yes, he may even grasp in some of the stones of the true temple, if they come within his reach and circle; that is, if they look abroad, if they step forth, and keep not close to the anointing within, which is the great and only ordinance of the saints' preservation from antichrist's power. For if they step forth even so much as into a prayer against antichrist, out of this abiding, they are caught in his snare, and are serving him in that very prayer, which they may seem with great earnestness and zeal to put up against him.
3. It is a great city; an overspreading city, a city that overspreads the earth. As spiritual Zion was a vast city, a city that did overspread the nations, (how greatly the faith of the gospel overran the world in the apostles' days!), so this city has also overrun the world. Indeed it has taken up the whole territories and dominions of the other city, (and has enlarged itself further), and Zion has been laid in the dust, and trodden under foot. And though many witnesses, prophets, and martyrs, have mourned over her, yet none have been able to raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, nor to recover Zion to this day; but Babylon has had the power over her. Look with the true eye, and behold how all nations, kindreds, tongues, and languages, have been drunk with some or other of the mixtures of this false woman's cup, (some of them over, and over, and over again), and have been inhabitants of this city, crying her up, (though not all in her gross practice, but some in her more refined shapes and transformings), for the true church, for Zion; whereas, alas! she has only Zion's dress, Zion's shape, Zion's outward garment, (which is the likeness in which she lies in wait to deceive), but not Zion's spirit.
4. It is a city of iniquity, of hidden iniquity. That which is hidden in this city, it is not the life, it is not the righteousness, the holiness of the saints; but iniquity, sin, transgression of the life. Look into any of the streets of Babylon, into any of the houses, any of the rooms, any of the chambers of darkness: there is sin there; there is unrighteousness there; there is not one cleansed heart to be found there; not one pure eye to behold the God of life is to be found there. In every heart there is sin in a mystery, iniquity in a mystery, unrighteousness in a mystery. They seem to be for God and Christ, and to be cleansed by them; but uncleanness lodges in them, and sin rules in them against God, and against his Christ in a mystery; which their eye cannot see, and so must mistake their state. Yet this is the true state of Babylon, in all the parcels of it; it is the unclean city, where purity of heart and life cannot be known; but though it is washed and transformed ever so often outwardly, yet still it remains inwardly polluted; what defiles keeping possession and dominion there in a mystery. The living water, the living blood, runs not in any of the streets of this city, so that there can be no true cleansing there. No, such strangers are the choicest inhabitants of Babylon to the fountain of life in Zion, to the river that cleanses and heals, that they cannot so much as believe that there is a possibility of cleansing and perfect healing, and making sound and whole here, while on earth. There is great talk of these things, (of the water, the blood, the cleansing), in all the religions of Babylon, (which has heard of the fame, and makes to itself a likeness); but the thing itself is not to be found there, and so the virtue, which comes from the thing itself alone, cannot be felt there.
And here, in this there is a great difference between the vessels of Zion, and the vessels of Babylon. The vessels of Zion, they are weak, earthen, foolish, contemptible to the eye of man's wisdom, (which cannot look for any great matter of excellency there); but the treasure, the liquor of life in them, is precious. The vessels of Babylon make a great show, appear very holy, very heavenly, very zealous for God and Christ, and for the setting up of his church and ordinances all over the world. Thus they appear outside; but they are sepulchers; there is rottenness within. Under all this there lodges an unclean, an unsanctified heart; a heart unsubdued to the spirit and power of the gospel, while it makes such a great show of subjection and obedience to the letter.
5. It is the city of the king of darkness, of the great king of darkness, of the prince of the power of the air, who rules universally in the darkness, in the mystery of iniquity throughout, even in every heart. Wherever is sin, there is Satan's throne; and there he has his laws, his government, his power, in every heart of his dominion. And where there is the least subjection to him, he is yet a prince; his building is not as yet there wholly thrown down; he is not there as yet dispossessed and cast out. As long as there is anything left in which he may dwell, he knows his own, and keeps his hold of it. It is his right, and he will not lose it. All sin, all darkness, is properly his. It is his seat, and he has the government there. Man is the land where these two kings fight; and whatever is good and holy belongs to the one king, and whatever is evil and unclean belongs to the other; and there is no communion or peace between them; but each keeps his own, and gathers of his own unto himself. And where the fight is once begun between these, there is no quietness in that land, until one of these is dispossessed; but then there is either the peace of Babylon, most commonly under a form of holiness; or the peace of Zion, in the spirit, life, and power.
6. This city was built, (and is daily built), in imitation of Zion, painted just like Zion. The intent of its building was to eat out Zion, to suppress Zion, to withdraw from the truth by a false image, and to keep her inhabitants in peace and satisfaction, under a belief and hope that it is the true Zion. Therefore it needs to be made like Zion, or else it could no way suit these ends. Every street must be like the streets of Zion; every house, like the houses of Zion; every tribe and family, like the tribes and families of Zion; every person, like the persons in Zion; all the laws, ordinances, etc., like the laws and ordinances of Zion. The worship must be like the worship in Zion; the faith, like the faith of Zion; the painted Christ, like the Christ of Zion; all that go for truths, like the truths of Zion; or else they would not deceive. Babylon would be soon seen through, and become quickly desolate and forsaken, if she did not lay her paint very thick, and with great art and skill. Now here is the wisdom, here is the true eye tried, to see through all the paints of this city, in all the shapes and forms of it; to turn from every street, every house, every chamber, every image and false appearance of truth; every false appearance of ordinances and ways of worship; every likeness of things which this spirit [Satan] forms from the letter [scriptures]; every duty that it thus calls for; every promise of scripture which it endeavors to apply to what it does not belong, that it might lull the soul asleep, and cheat and deceive it of the thing promised. Here, I say, is the true eye tried to turn from all this, and to wait for the raising and redeeming of the true seed of Zion, and for the springing up of the true life and power in it and from it. For as long as this spirit can deceive you with any likeness, you shall never know the truth, nor come to the worship of the true, living God, which [worship] alone is in the spirit, and in the truth.
7. The end of all this, of Satan's building up this city, this great city, (thus accurately constructed in the power of deceit, and in the very likeness of Zion), was, and is, that it might be taken for Zion, and be worshipped there as God, and that without jealousy or suspicion. And he has attained his end; his city has deceived and does deceive, it generally passes for Zion among all the inhabitants of Babylon; almost every sort of people recognize and demand it as Zion, in one appearance or other, though all do demand the same appearance; but their own image, way, and worship, every one extols: their own image of the truth, for the truth; their own way of worship, for the way; their own church and family, for the church and family of God. Worshipping here, they worship Satan, and not the Lord: for the Lord cannot be worshipped in any part of Babylon; but the king of Babylon is worshipped in Babylon, and the king of Zion alone is worshiped in Zion. Ah! how deeply do men deceive their souls! They think they believe in God; they think they pray to God, and hope to be owned at length by God, and yet are so far from coming out of mystery Babylon, that it was never discovered to them. But they have either walked in the way of religion and worship they were brought up in, in the apostasy, or perhaps have transferred out of one or two of the broad streets of it, and so by this think they have left Babylon; when the same spirit has set down in another street of the same city, building up another house by the direction of the dark king, and there worshipping the same spirit as they did before; but their souls never knew the fire in Zion and the furnace in Jerusalem, by which the very inwards of their spirits must be cleansed, before the pure eye of life is opened which can see Zion.
Now, because you are more able to receive things expressed from scripture, than from the nature of the thing itself, spoken as it is felt in the heart, (concerning which much more might be said, were you able to bear it), consider a few scriptures.
Babylon is called a great city, Rev 16:19. and a great and mighty city, Rev 18:10. Oh, the power of deceit in that city, to bewitch from the life! Oh, the multitude of lying wonders that are there shown in the heart, to make a man believe that he is in the life! to persuade men that the king of it is the king of Zion! and that the laws, and ordinances of worship there, are the laws and ordinances of Zion! that the prayer there, is the prayer of the true child! that the believing there, is the true faith! the love there, the true love! the hope there, the true hope, etc. Some parts of Babylon, some likenesses of truth there, are so convincing, that none but the elect, by the opening of the eternal eye, can identify the deceit.
And it is a spiritual city, a mystical city, a city built by the working of the mystery of iniquity, 2 Thes 2:7; therefore she is called mystery. Rev 17:5. It is not a city of plain wickedness, but a city of sin that is hidden; of sin keeping its life under a covering, under a form of godliness; of sin reigning in the heart under zeal, under devotion, under praying, believing, worshipping, hoping, waiting, etc. Where sin lies hidden within under these, there is Babylon; there is the mystery of witchcraft; there is the painted throne of Satan; there is spiritual Egypt and Sodom, where the Lord of life is daily crucified. This is the city, the mystical city, the spiritual city. Rev. 11:8. And here is building up and throwing down continually. She builds; the spirit of the Lord confounds, then down goes her building; then up with another, then down again. This is her course without end, when the spirit of the Lord disturbs her; for otherwise she can settle in any form of knowledge or worship; though in her ordinary course she has also many changes and turnings; one while this or that being a truth, another while not; one while this or that being the sense or meaning of such a scripture, another while not. Babylon is hardly ever without this kind of building up, and throwing down.
And this city is a great city, a city spread over all the earth. "She made all nations drink of the wine of the cup of her fornication." Rev 14:8. The woman, which is this city, (Rev 17:18), "sat upon peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues." Rev 17:15. She sat upon them as queen, as princess, guiding them in their knowledge and worship of the king of Babylon. And those that once hated her, and made war with her, and burnt her flesh with fire, she deceived them with a new paint, got them into her new bed of fornication, and made them worship the king of Babylon again, Rev 17:12-13,16-17, and there they lay committing whoredom with her, until the time of her last burning and utter desolation; but then they forsook her, for fear of her torment, when they saw the smoke of her burning. Rev 18:9-10.
In the temples of this city, (for in all the streets thereof, yes, in every house, there are temples), antichrist sits as god, and is worshipped. 2 Thes 2:4. "He, as God, sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." He has clothed himself like God, he appears like God, (like the holy, pure spirit of life and power), he appears in the temple of God, he sits there, he rules there, he gives forth laws and ordinances of worship and devotion. Yes, if any one will question his godhead, or his right to do thus, he will prove it, he will make it manifest in the very temple of God, that he is God: "He, as God, sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." He has exalted himself into the throne, above all that is called God; he has gotten into the temple, he sits there as God, and there he makes it manifest to all his worshippers that he is God; so that, among all the inhabitants of Babylon, he is acknowledged and worshipped, and the true spirit of life is hidden from their eyes, and denied and crucified. He has showed himself that he is God; he gives demonstrations of his godhead, which that eye which is out of the life cannot but acknowledge and believe to be true. There is none can see and acknowledge the true God, the true Christ, but those who have the true eye, the true anointing, ("no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, [that is Lord of his life, in words and deeds] but by the holy spirit," 1 Cor 12:3); and yet how many can speak great words of God, and of Christ, who do not know what belongs to the anointing? Alas! alas! all nations and sorts of believers, out of the life, are deceived with the devil's demonstrations, with antichrist's demonstrations, with the whore's demonstrations, with the false prophet's demonstrations, which are undeniable to that wisdom in which they stand, and to that eye with which they look to see.
Now mark this: antichrist's coming, when first perceived, was very mighty, exceeding strong. 2 Thes 2:9-10. "Whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness," etc. Weigh the thing well. Satan used all his art, and all his strength, to conceive and bring forth this mystery of iniquity, so like the mystery of godliness, that it might pass for reality in the world, and he rule as God in it. With all power, etc., no lack of power to deceive; he did not spare for signs, and lying wonders. Yes, he gave power to the beast to do wonders and miracles, even to make fire come down from heaven on the earth, in the sight of men, (which was the sign and wonder by which the God of Israel was distinguished from Baal; power to work this very sign Satan gives to the beast, to confirm the godhead of the dragon and antichrist with), Rev 13:13-14. These are the things men look for; seeing great power, signs, miracles, they are satisfied. The whole world stands ready to be deceived with this. Yes, and if the eye is not opened in persons, which can distinguish of power, they are deceived. Signs, wonders, and miracles had their place in the first covenant, and were to that part to which the first covenant was; not to those who believe, but to those who do not believe. Now after the full demonstration of the truth by signs and miracles, the power of Satan rises up; and by lying signs, wonders, and miracles overturns the truth. Now the unbelieving part in man expects and calls for signs and miracles, and says they will determine the controversy, and settle the state of the church again; but that part is not to prescribe God his way. Yes, he will steal as a thief upon you, whose eye is abroad, and looks for demonstrations without.
And as antichrist got up thus, so antichrist will go out thus. He will raise up this power, and what lying signs, wonders, and miracles he can, to defend himself with, now the spirit of the Lord is risen up to dispossess him, and cast him out of the house which he has long lodged in. And he who can be deceived with power, with signs, with lying wonders, (which are lying because they come from the spirit of deceit, with an intent to deceive, though they may come to pass, and appear true to man's eye. Deut. 13:1-3), or with any of the deceivableness of unrighteousness, shall never come out of Babylon; but only be translated into some of the more refined chambers of it, and fed with some more fresh likenesses of truth, where he shall still remain an inhabitant and worshipper in some image, ( perhaps of universal love, life, and liberty), and yet be out of the life, out of the love, out of the liberty of the truth, which stands in the power and presence of the spirit of God, and not in even the most refined image or likeness of Him.
The dragon is the devil; the beast is that spirit of the earth that he raises up, and feeds in men with a form and appearance of truth; to which he gives his power, his seat, and his authority; and every man has a measure of this according to his state and condition, place and service in Babylon. And now whatever a man does here in religion, however devout and zealous, and frequent in ordinances and duties, it is the worship of this beast spirit, and of the dragon who sits and rules in this spirit. I have run into hard expressions, very hard, because the nature of these things are hidden from men's eyes, and they are in the mist of antichrist's raising, in the smoke which comes from the pit, where there is no opening of the true eye, and no true sight of thing. But truly, if you are ever to see the dragon, the beast, antichrist, the whore, the false prophet, you must look at home, and read within yourself; and there having found the thing, and seen it in the true light, you will be able to see it certainly without also. Now do not go about to distinguish these things in the idea of the understanding; but come to feel the life within, to unite with the life, and the eye will open which can see into the nature of things, and will behold all in its season; for that eye which is so eager to see, shall never see these things; but that eye alone which waits in stillness and quietness on the pleasure and goodwill of the Opener.
Now all this time, while Babylon stands, while antichrist sits in the temple, while Satan reigns over all the antichristian world, the true and living God has not been known, feared, nor glorified; but man's knowledge has been of a false god they have set up, and him they have feared, and given the glory to, in their worship. No, the gospel has not been preached; the true gospel, the everlasting gospel, the gospel in which is the light and power of eternal life, to turn men from all antichristian forms of knowledge and worship, to the true life and power. But when Babylon falls, and Mount Zion begins to appear again, then the gospel is to be preached again, even by an angel, who receives it from God himself, Rev 14:6-7, for man could never recover it again; it requires a new inspiration. "The law is to go forth out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." And this gospel is to be preached "to every nation, kindred, and tongue, and people," ver. 6. Mark: there was not one nation, not one kindred, not one tongue, not one people that kept the everlasting gospel; but it was laid up in Zion; it was carried with the church into the wilderness, and there it has been hidden all the time of the apostasy, since the days of the apostles. But now Zion is redeeming, the true woman bringing back again out of the wilderness, she brings back the true, everlasting gospel with her; and there is an angel [messenger of God] chosen in the power of the Lord, (even in the same power and spirit that first preached it), to preach it again to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. And the Lord has so ordered it, that he will have the voice of this angel as despicable to the wise in religion, to the zealous in devotion, of all sorts in this backsliding age, as the former preaching was to the wise and devout both among the Jews and Greeks. So that whosoever is wise in religion according to the flesh; whosoever is wise in expectation and waitings for the kingdom; whosoever is wise in reasoning about it, and can tell the foregoing signs of it, etc., shall not know the voice. But he who can shut his eyes by the leadings of the pure life, and enter into the hidden womb of wisdom, where the light of life is sown, he shall be newly formed, and come forth a child out of the womb of wisdom, with the new eye, the new ear, the new heart, the new understanding and senses; and keeping in the childish simplicity, out of the wisdom, zeal, and devotion which deceived him before, he shall receive and enter into the everlasting kingdom.
Therefore all people wait humbly for the candle of the Lord, with which you may search out Babylon, and may come to see what of her treasures you have gathered; that you may throw them away speedily, and give up your ships and vessels, (with which you have trafficked for these kinds of wares), to the fire of the Lord's jealousy. That you may receive the durable riches; that you may hear the joyful sound of the everlasting gospel, and know the true Christ which it alone reveals; and come to fear and worship and glorify the true God; and not go down into the pit or lake with the dragon, the beast, the whore, and false prophet, which will be the portion of the most zealous false worshippers. And when your eyes come once to be opened in the true light, you will bless the Lord for giving you these warnings, and not be so angry at us, (who have paid so dearly for them), for our willingness, if it is possible, to save you some of the charges they have cost us. However, at least we hope to preserve your souls from that ruin and dreadful destruction which all the paths of Babylon lead to.
THE SINS OF BABYLON
Although, in the foregoing description, some of the sins of Babylon have been touched at; yet I find my spirit further drawn forth, (in a way of service to the Lord and his people), to take a further view, both of them, and some of her other sins. THE sins of Babylon, by the spirit of life, (which has righteously measured and knows them), are referred to these two heads, fornication and abomination. She allures the spirit of the creature into a strange bed, and there it acts filthily and abominably with this strange spirit. Now of these there are two sorts; first, some more open and manifest; secondly, some more hidden and secret and hard, (yes, utterly impossible), to be discerned without the shining forth of the pure light of life.
All sorts of men are estranged from the life; under the whole heaven is the Lord God forgotten, and his holy and pure law and way of life; and filthiness and abomination are committed everywhere. Now all this filth, (even the common filth of the earth), springs out of Babylon, has its rise from her womb. Were it not for her, the sound of life would be heard even among the heathen, and they would not be such strangers to him that made them; nor would they act so contrary to those leadings and teachings of the spirit of God, (who is the God of the whole earth), which the darkest parts are not without. It is she which withdraws their minds from the pure glimmerings that rise up in them, setting up another god in their eyes, and heathenish, drunken ways of fear, worship, and devotion: and under this she makes them filthy and polluted, unclean in their minds and in their bodies, brutish in their knowledge and in their practices; "for she is the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth." Rev 17:5. Look what of pride, of vanity, of cruelty, of envy, of wrath, of lust, of covetousness, of idolatry, of blasphemy, etc., is to be found anywhere among men upon the earth, she is the mother of it all. All the common filth and stench of the earth springs out of this womb, this secret womb, this hidden womb. For though, in this her open and visible appearance, she is manifest to the eyes of many; yet to those children of hers who are thus conceived, brought forth, and bred up by her, she is a mystery of iniquity, and they perceive her not so much as here, and so cannot escape this her openly polluted bed.
Secondly, the whore has more secret fornications and abominations. Where she can pass thus, she needs not to paint either herself or her ware; but where need requires, she has her paint, she has her delicacies for the curious eye. Rev. 18:3. She has her cinnamon, odors, ointments, and frankincense for the nice scent; she has her fine flour and wheat, etc., for the fine palate; and gold, precious stones, pearl, and vessels of ivory, and all manner of vessels of most precious wood, for the more stately worshipper; as well as of brass and iron for the more common. Rev. 18:12-13. She can paint both herself and her wares, so as to make them taking to the eye of all flesh. She can so mingle her cup, so that it will please every palate but what is truly living; and cast such a distortion upon her abominations, that no eye that is focused without can suspect; but she takes up every young man that is hunting without, and does not know the spring of life in himself. So that all the deceits in religion, all the several forms and ways of knowledge and worship, all the ordinances, duties, and devotions which the spirits of most men take pleasure in, are of her. And here is her pride and glory, in subjecting these, in ruling over these, in blinding the eyes of these, and opposing the true life and power by these. She does not value whole territories of the other so much as the congregation of these. For mark:
The great masterpiece of the whore was to paint herself like the Lamb's wife, and so to withdraw people from the true church, and set up a false church; which, by reason of its paint and likeness to what once was the true, should pass up and down the world, and be taken for the true; and here lies her beauty, her glory, her majesty, her life, her heart, even in the deceivableness of this appearance. Therefore her great art and endeavors are to keep her possession and dominion here. She often renews and changes her paint, nearer and nearer to the image and former likeness of truth, that she might make it pass instead of the truth, and so keep what is indeed the truth down still under reproach, contempt, and persecution, as she has done these many ages. Therefore she has all sorts of her paint by her, her varieties of sorcery, of witchery, of enchantments, by which her cup is full, and with which her wine is made strong, to make the inhabitants of the earth drunk thereby; that being thus besotted, being not themselves, but their spiritual senses bound up, (as the wine does very effectually, wherever her cup is drunk), she might lead them up and down from one thing to another, from one chamber to another, from one bed to another, from one practice and way of worship to another, and still keep them from the true, living thing that their souls seek.
Reading the scriptures concerning the power of life the saints formerly enjoyed, the living ministry and ordinances, their sweet walking and fellowship in the light, the presence of the spirit in their worship, and in their whole course of life, their sincere love in the spirit, and tender bearing with one another's weaknesses, doubts and differences; all these experiences of the saints only generate a panting to be able to experience them. For these ideals are not meant to decay and die and be lost, so that the power of the Spirit, and the revelations thereof should cease, (as the whorish spirit, which has gone out from the life, pleads); but instead these ideals were meant to grow and increase, and the last times to abound most of all with the power and glory of truth. To be satisfied reading about tasting and savoring things is to be satisfied with dead forms and ways; such persons must be wholly bewitched, and altogether deprived of their senses, being made dead drunk with the whore's mingled wine in this dark night of apostasy? Yes, believers are drunk, they have deeply drunk of the cup, and are sorely overtaken, and their hearts overcharged with strong liquor; which makes them even mad to draw others into their beds of fornication, and to stand up themselves in great rage, and call also to the magistrates for the defense of them. Yes, like the clamorous woman, they make a great noise about ordinances, duties, ministry, church, etc., ("I have decked and perfumed my bed," said the lewd woman, the subtle hearted woman, Prov 7:16-17.), but do not soberly consider which are painted ones, and which are the truth. We have run on headily after these things too long; it is now time to stand still a while, and wait for the purging out of the wine with which all our brains have been overturned, that we may come into soberness, and into a fit temper to be led by the spirit of life out of the bed of fornications, and out of the ways, worships, ordinances, and duties of fornication, into the bed of the undefiled spirit. Now he who worships God correctly, must feel life within, and that life raised and strengthened by him who begets it; and this will savor death; and, faithfully following its guide, will come out of the land of death; even that land in which all the false worshippers inhabit, and in which all these false ways and worships, duties, ordinances, ministries, etc., are set up and flourish.
Now these secret sins of Babylon are the same with the more open and obvious; the great difference is their secrecy, their not appearing like sins, their paint, their color, by which they are swallowed down for holy and good. As for instance:
There is fornication, (or adultery from the life), in the finest, in the purest way of worship man can invent or imitate; but the fornication does not so plainly appear here, but they who have drunk of the cup take these things for the ways and appointments of God. Those that set up the whore's church, do not call it so, nor perhaps think it to be so; those that set up the whore's ministry, or ordinances, do not give those who name, but call them the ministry and ordinances of Christ: yet this is as truly, as really fornication from the life, as the most obvious ways of heathenish worship. Oh mark it! mark it!
If you have read the Scriptures, and thrust yourself into any practices you there find mentioned, without the raising up of a living thing in you, and without your following by the guidance of it, you have done this by the whore's advice; and in this you are committing fornication, and erring from the life. For the true worship lies in the spirit and in the truth, and it is the new birth that God seeks to worship him; but the spirit of man thrusting itself into these things, the Lord abhors and rejects. And this spirit can never be cleansed in this way, and fitted to enter into Christ's bed; but only gets a paint from scripture, and enters into the painted bed and bosom of the harlot, where it remains unrenewed, unchanged, unmortified, in the midst of all its great talk and profession of these things. And thus the Scripture, the holy Scriptures of truth, (which were given forth from the pure spirit of life), the whorish spirit makes use of to estrange from the life. For what persons, who have fornicated from the life, do not make use of the Scriptures to maintain their whoredoms by, and to bewitch others into their whoredoms with? Every sort cries up their own way and worship to be the way and worship according to the Scriptures; and if any are gathered out of these witcheries into the power of God, then the bewitched say that such are bewitched.
Then as for all the abominations of the earth, all the filth that defiles the heart, it is to be found on the skirts of the whore, even in her most refined dress; for her religion, her worship, her profession, her practices, do not reach to the purifying of the conscience, but only to paint over the old sepulcher, where rottenness lodges within. The sore was never thoroughly searched; the heart was never thoroughly circumcised or baptized; the old man was never put off, or the new man put on; the blood of purifying, (which truly washes away the sin), was never felt in its virtue and power. They only have a perception and talk that they are cleansed in Christ, from a notion they have stolen out of the Scriptures; but not from the true reality experienced in life and power in their consciences. And so the evil nature still remains, the evil heart of unbelief is still to be found in them, and they lack the life, they lack the power, they lack the spirit, they lack the love, they lack the humility, they lack the meekness, they lack the patience, they lack the innocence and simplicity of the lamb and dove. And when the Lord comes to provoke them to jealousy by the shining of his light, and by the appearance of his power in some whom they despise, then the pride, the passion, the envy, the heart burnings, the hard speeches, the false surmisings, with the rest of the enmity which still abides with them, stirs and rises against the life and power, and their hypocrisy is made manifest. Yes, some of the strictest among them can scoff and jeer at the appearance of life; so strong is the evil and unmortified nature in them, and so conceited are they in their ways and practices, because of their cover, under which all this iniquity, for the most part, lies hidden from their eyes. But, for all that, it is there; the Lord's candle will search it out, and your own eye shall see it, and find in yourself bloody Cain, scoffing Ishmael, profane Esau, the uncircumcised Jew; who is angry that his brother's sacrifice is accepted, and his not; who disdains and derides the true seed of life, the living heir; who hunts abroad for food pleasing to that nature which is to be famished; who crucifies the Lord of glory because of his meanness, and because he appears not in that way of devotion and holiness in which they expect him. Neither will he ever appear so; but to overturn all what you have set up, and to set up what you disdain. This is the Lord's work, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Now there are several sins which the spirit of the Lord has charged Babylon with, and which he will reckon with her for, and with all that partake with her within; some of which I may mention, as:
1.) Her deep fornications from the life, under a pretence of honoring and worshipping of it. (Do not be offended that I begin with it again, seeing it is also mentioned among other particular sins of hers. Rev 18:3-9.) She speaks fair words; she calls to have the worship of God set up, a godly ministry, and the ordinances of God in a nation; but the thing is not so in the sight of God, but in all this she seeks the advancement of her own whoredoms. And this was, and this is, the very way of antichrist's rising; he gets into the form, he cries up the form; and by the form that he cries up, he eats out the power. If antichrist should speak directly against the power, (without first creeping into, and setting up a form, and crying up that), he would soon be detected; but, under a form and profession of truth, he hides himself and covers his spirit of enmity and persecution with it; and here he can secretly and safely smite the innocent and fight against that very spirit, life, and power, which he himself, in his form, makes a profession of being subject to. This is the wolf in the sheep's clothing, which, by this fair appearance of the sheep's wool on his back, covers his ravenous nature from the eyes of the beholders.
Now there are three ways of fornication, one of which this spirit is always guilty of, sometimes of them all.
Now if there is a true eye opened in any in the reading of this, how easily and manifestly will he see whoredom, fornication, adultery, generally in men's religious practices, in their churches, in their ministries, in their ordinances, in their prayers, in their whole course! Oh how, think you, does the eye of the jealous God behold these things! but your eyes, who are held captive here, cannot see it. The God of the world, with his mists, has darkened you; the great whore, with her sorceries, has enchanted you; and you are her slaves, you are drunk with her cup; and how can you judge soberly either of your own estate towards God, or concerning your practices in religion?
2.) Her notorious blasphemies. Having fornicated from the life, and from the spirit, then she blasphemes the life, and the holy, pure power and movings of the Spirit. "The woman which sat upon the scarlet colored beast, (with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication), was full of names of blasphemy." Rev 17:2-3. Yes, the beast which carried her, which had many heads, horns, and crowns, he also had on his heads "names of blasphemy." Rev 13:1. "And there was given to him a mouth, speaking great things, and blasphemies." ver. 5. And he, with the whore together, (for he did it by her spirit and instigation, by virtue of the wine he had drunk out of her cup), "opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven." ver. 6. This has been the work of the tongue, in every head of the beast; namely, to blaspheme the life, to blaspheme the true, living power, in all ages and generations, since the apostasy from the life and spirit of the apostles.
Now there is a twofold blasphemy, which the whore, and the powers of the earth that serve her, are guilty of.
Israel, who had the law and the prophets, the true ordinances and the true priests, yet they "called evil good, and good evil; they put darkness for light, and light for darkness; they put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter." Isa 5:20-23. "They were so wise in their own eyes, and so prudent in their own sight; they were so mighty to drink wine, and men of such strength to mingle strong drink, (justifying the wicked for reward, and taking away the righteousness of the righteous from him)," there was no convincing of them by the LIGHT of GOD, shining from the prophets, of their "casting away the law of the Lord, and despising the word of the Holy One of Israel." Isa 5:24. No, they were observers of the law, and hearkened to the prophets and the priests of the law. Jer 5:31. Therefore, when the overflowing scourge came, it should not come near them: Yes, when the true prophets of the Lord threatened them with his coming with dreadful vengeance, and his strange work, they, in the height and confidence of their spirits, could reply, "Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it." Isa 5:19. How blind were they from seeing their blasphemies; their calling of evil good, and good evil, etc. Yes, in the very days of the apostles, the way of truth was evil spoken of, and synagogues of Satan setting up, and blasphemies growing up apace from those which held the true form, but denied the power, even while the pourings forth of the Spirit, and revelations from the Spirit, did abound. So how can it be expected it should be otherwise now, when the Spirit has grown such a strange thing, that to mention such a thing as being moved by the Spirit, or acted by the Spirit, has become ridiculous? The very teachers of the nation, (who must speak by the Spirit, if they speak the word of God), cry revelation has ceased, and count it a reproach for a man so much as to pretend to speak by the movings, and in the power, of the Spirit.
Now this double blasphemy necessarily follows the fornication; whoever is fornicated from the life, he blasphemes the life, in all his knowledge, in all his worship, in all his religion. He calls that prayer which is not prayer; that an ordinance which is not an ordinance; that a church which is not a church; that a minister which is not a minister; and what is truly the prayer, the ordinance, the church, the minister, he denies and blasphemes; and cannot do otherwise, until the righteous judgments of the Lord purge the whore's wine out of him, and he is led back to that life and spirit again, from which, (in all these ways of worship, inventions, and imitations), he has gone a whoring.
The whore, for these many ages, has been laying blasphemy to the charge of such as, in any degree, have been led by the spirit of the Lord from her whoredoms; but now the Lord is taking it off from them, (who have long been unjustly charged therewith), and charging it upon her, and she cannot escape his judgment; for though she puts on ever so fine dresses and appearances, like the spouse and church of Christ, yet the Lord can distinguish and find out his spouse, though naked in the wilderness, and without her attire; and can also identify the whorish spirit, though clothed with the church's attire; and can charge her blasphemies, (against him, his tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven), upon her.
3.) Obvious or more refined idolatries. "Little children," said John, "keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:21. He saw anti-christianity breaking in apace, many antichrists being already come; and now, (said he), keep to the anointing, and keep from idols. Without a very strict watch, without a mighty preservation by the anointing, he saw idolatry would even creep in upon them, who had tasted of the true power and virtue of life. But how shall they keep from idols, who know not the anointing, but think that revelations from the anointing have ceased? He who does not buy the tried gold of Christ, Rev 3:18, how can he avoid buying untried gold of antichrist, or silver, or brass, or wood, or stone, for which his merchants traffic, and of which make idols? Rev 9:20. If your eyes are anointed with the true eye salve, you may see and read the parable.
Idolatry is the worshipping of God without his spirit, (that is the plain, naked truth of the thing). To invent things from the carnal mind, or to imitate things, which others, who had the spirit, did in the spirit, by the command of the spirit, for you to imitate and practice these without the spirit, is idolatry. An invented church, an invented ministry, an invented worship; an imitated church, an imitated ministry, an imitated worship, without the life, without the spirit, all these are the work of men's hands, and are idols, and all that is performed within is idolatry. Rev 9:20. This is a religion without life, a worship without life, a fabric for idolatry; and the whole course of worship and service in it, is idolatry. For the living God, the Lord God of endless life and power, is alone worshipped by his spirit, and in the truth of that life which he begets in the heart;* and all other worship, though ever so seemingly spiritual, is idolatrous. Ah! believers, believers! If you knew how many idol prayers and services you have loaded the Lord with, and how you have been whoring from him, while you have seemed to be drawing near to him, you would hang down your heads and mourn! for whatever you have done in the worship of God, without the leading and presence of his spirit, it has been idolatry. For the worship of God, under the gospel, "is in the spirit and in the truth," and required of them who are in the spirit and in the truth, and not of others. John 4:23. For them alone the Lord seeks to worship; and the Lord will admit of none to his worship, but such as he seeks. And if any else will thrust themselves into his worship, it is not accepted; nor do they worship the true God, but they "worship they know not what;" and their whole state and course here is a state and course of idolatry.
4.) Sorceries, witchcrafts, divinations, and enchantments, (I do not mean outward sorceries or witchcrafts; they are only the shadow or figure of the inward mystery of deceit of this black, dark spirit, which appears as an angel of light, that he might bewitch and deceive). "Neither did they repent of their sorceries." Rev 9:21. This false church, this adulterous woman, she has her golden cup, and her wine mingled; and with this cup she bewitches the eye, with this wine she inflames the heart, and intoxicates the brain. She invents ways and worships similar to the true [worship], or she imitates the true ways and appearances of life; and when the poor, simple young man is singly seeking after God, from some true touches of his life, before he comes to know the spirit of life, before he can come to be married to the Lamb, she comes with her golden cup, and with her tempting wine, and bewitches the poor heart therewith, and so leads him aside into her painted bed. Would you enjoy God? said she. Would you worship him correctly? Would you have fellowship with him? Lo, here is the way; here is the church; here are the ordinances; here is the ministry; here are the means. You must wait upon God in the use of the means, and these are they. Did not the saints formerly do the same? Did not they meet with God here? Did not they serve and worship God in this way? Do you not come here also; do you do what they did; do you enjoy what they enjoyed. Yes, but you whorish woman, did God ever appoint any way without his spirit? You leave the necessary thing, yes, indeed, the only thing behind you, which itself alone is accepted, and without which nothing is accepted. And this is the course of the whore; in all her transformings, in all her baits, in all her temptings, she still leaves the spirit behind her. She may perhaps speak of the spirit, to hide herself the more, (because the letter of the scripture is so express within); and teach people to look and wait for the spirit, but so as it never is to be obtained for he who begins in religion either to pray or worship, or seek the knowledge of God, without the spirit, shall never meet with the spirit until that way of knowledge, religion, and worship of his, is first broken down, and he become a fool, and receives the spirit as a fool, (out of all his religious knowledge and wisdom, which he had gathered before); and afterwards, following the spirit which is thus received, he shall be led into the true wisdom. Now mark what follows, you who have a desire to understand.
This spirit of deceit, this whorish spirit, this spirit of divination and witchcraft, ("which by her sorceries deceived all nations," Rev 18:23), came forth curiously decked at first, with all manner of deceivableness of unrighteousness. It had the exact form of life, (the true form of godliness), and a lively spirit in it. It had the form of knowledge, and the form of worship, and with these it came to tempt, and draw away those from the life and from the power who were in the life and in the power; and it did prevail upon such as kept not close to the anointing. But after it had overcome, and gained the church's territories, then it might safely corrupt the form; and so it did, and went into multitudes of inventions and showy follies, (as at this day may be seen among the Papists). Now these are easily discovered, and seen through by any simple, plain, honest eye, upon a little breaking forth of the light. Therefore the whorish spirit, when she perceives herself found out here, she changes her shape and attire, and comes back again by degrees, (as need requires), to the forms of knowledge and worship, with which she was arrayed when she deceived at first. Yet still she is the same, and does this to keep poor, simple hearts still in her bands, from the life and from the spirit. And thus painted, thus decked, thus holding forth scripture knowledge and scripture ways of worship, she is the more subtle witch, the more subtle sorceress, and is able to deceive any eye, but what is opened in the light. With her "Lo, here is Christ, and lo, there is Christ," she would deceive the very elect, if it were possible; but it is not possible. For they are taught by the spirit not to go forth, and the anointing within preserves them. And he who knows not this preservation is bewitched by her; and his fear of God is such as may be taught by the precepts of men, and practiced without the knowledge of the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which is the saints' rule, guide, and preservation. For as the apostles were "able ministers, not of the letter, but of the spirit of the New Testament," 2 Cor 3:6, so they that received their ministry, (or what they ministered), received not the letter only, but the spirit; and were preserved not by the letter, but by the spirit, and were made able to try words, things, and spirits, not by the letter, but by the spirit. But this the whorish spirit is departed from, and bewitches others from; first possessing those who the spirit is not to be looked for, and then persuading them to make as good shift as they can without it: and then, (having thus prepared people), she brings forth her wares. "Look you," she says, "this is the way; thus and thus the saints practiced; you also do the same." But you must receive the saints' spirit before you either know or worship; or you know and worship out of it; and in that path of sorcery and witchcraft from the life, you shall never meet with the life; but the further you proceed within, will be more and more estranged from it, and become still a greater and greater enemy to it, and more and more in love with the whore, and her whorish paths and pleasing ways of devotion, by which the false spirit in you is raised up and nourished; not with the bread of life from the hand of the spirit, but with words, or forms of knowledge, or ways of worship invented, or imitated; which do only tickle the understanding, or affectionate part of man, but do not reach the life; so that what should serve the Lord, is not raised there but is still bound over with the bond of iniquity.
5. Luxury, excess, and pleasure. She is rich with her merchandize, and she enjoys it to the full, she takes the pleasure of it. She builds costly houses, wears rich apparel, fares deliciously, (read spiritually with the spiritual eye). She is rich in knowledge, rich in ways of worship, rich in duties, rich in religious performances and practices. And as she gained these in her own will, (without the leadings of the life), and by her own search and wisdom; so she can make use of these in her own will, and according to the direction of her own wisdom. She can fast when she will, give thanks when she will, preach when she will, pray when she will, sing when she will, meditate when she will, bring forth her knowledge to others when she will. Look on the Papists; how rich are they in outward buildings, in gorgeous ceremonies, in times of worship, in ways of mortification and penance, in fasts, in feasts, etc. Look on the several sorts of Protestants; they have their riches in their kind too; their churches, their buildings, their arts, their sciences, their languages, their bodies of divinity, their cases of conscience, etc. They can open the whole body of religion, resolve all doubts, expound all scriptures, etc. "The great city was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stone, and pearls." Rev 18:16. And she sat thus on the throne like a queen, living deliciously, and taking her pleasure, to which her torment and sorrow afterwards are proportioned. Rev 18:7 . Yes, she had treasure and costliness enough to make all her merchants rich that would trade with her. Rev 18:19. What knowledge, what delicate food, could the wisest or greatest of the earth desire that she had not ready for them? Rev 18:3, Rev 18:9.
But Zion, all this while, has lain in the dust, and been despised; she has had no building, no fence, but has been trampled under foot by every unclean beast. Her witnesses have been clothed with sack-cloth, (a garment which all the lofty inhabitants of Babylon disdain): her fare has been hard in the wilderness, only a little manna, (which, with the fleshly Israel, who lust after rich and large knowledge, is counted light bread, and their souls soon loathe it);* nor had she this in plenty, but only a small proportion daily, from the hand of the free Giver, sufficient to keep life in her in the wilderness, and to furnish her with strength to give in her testimony against Babylon, so far as the Lord saw good to call any of her seed thereunto. Now what believer can be willing to fare thus with her at present, and to wait for her future riches, fullness, beauty, and glory? No, no; they have so long lived richly, and fared deliciously in Babylon, that they know not how to eat the bread of affliction, and drink the water of affliction, with sad and desolate Zion: and yet this is the only way and passage out of Babylon into Zion. That which has been rich and fat, and full fed there, must become poor and lean, and feel hunger, and have none of the bread of life administered to it; no, not so much as husks either. And in this sad day, and state of misery, the poor are visited, which receive the gospel; and the dead raised, which receives the life.
There is no other worship of God under the New Testament, but in spirit and truth; and he who worships otherwise, worships not God, but that spirit, which teaches to worship out of God's spirit and out of the truth. Every prayer is not a prayer to God, but only that prayer, which is from and in the spirit. Every ordinance, or duty, is not an ordinance of God, or a duty performed to God; but only what the spirit leads into, and guides and preserves in. This is the way that all the earth have departed from the Lord; namely, by erring from his spirit. They cry up practices in religion; duties, ordinances; the means, the means; a church, a church, (as the Jews did "the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord;"), but they find the church, before they have found the spirit of the Lord; and so they do not find the church that is in God, the church that is of his building; but they, poor hearts! frame up a building as well as they can, according to the pattern they find in the Scriptures; and so they are not a habitation for God in the spirit, but are estranged from the life and spirit in all their worship; and so are not found by the spirit, (which searches them and their worship), worshipping of God, but "the works of their own hands, and devils." Rev 9:20. For that charge holds good against all the inhabitants of Babylon, even to the highest and strictest of them all, whether in forms, or out of forms. There are many men, who are very zealous and devout in their ways of worship, who were never taught by the spirit the way of worshipping God, nor do at all know how to worship in the spirit: these my soul exceedingly pities. They have received into their understandings, from the letter of the scripture, that God is to be worshipped in spirit, and that God will give his spirit to those who ask it. They have asked, and they hope that they have the spirit; but poor, deceived hearts! they know not what spirit they are of, nor in what spirit they act, nor what spirit they serve; and so perish for lack of knowledge, the key of which has been hidden from them. Now let such consider:
There are only two spirits: the spirit of God and the spirit of Satan, one of which guides all men in their devotion and religion, and one of which they serve within. He who is led by the spirit of God, he serves God, he worships God; he who is led by the spirit of Satan, he serves not God, but that spirit which appears in the temple of God, like God, and gives such demonstrations that he is God, as no flesh can deny. 2 Thes 2:3-4. Here now is the great deceivableness. In profaneness, in manifest wickedness, Satan is easily seen; and men that are found here, it is granted that they are serving the devil; but that he should sit as king in gathered churches, in duties, in ordinances, in ways of self-denial and mortification, and be worshipped here, this is hard to be seen. Yet any of these, into which the spirit of the Lord does not lead, or which are performed at anytime without his spirit, in these he [Satan] is worshipped in. Consider this, you who are wise in religion, and are diligently reading the scriptures, and gathering knowledge, and rules of worship, and applying promises, etc. Do you do this in the life and spirit of God; or in your own wisdom, and according to your own understanding? Does not the wisdom of that spirit, which is out of the truth, guide you in your searches after truth? Oh, do you serve that spirit, which the Lord hates, but come back to that, from which, in all this, you err, and which, in all this, you cannot serve and worship. And let not your religion any longer consist in mere practicing what the saints formerly practiced, (for that you may do without the same spirit), but in yielding up to that life, power, and pure spirit that they were led by. And when you are joined to this, then do not prescribe the Lamb the way that he should go, but "follow the Lamb, wherever he goes." Do not tell the Shepherd, (by your gathered wisdom), the way that he must lead you in; but know the voice, and follow it; for this I can truly testify, that if once you come in faithfulness and true light to follow the Lamb, he will lead in paths you have not known, and out of the paths you have known.
7. Compelling of others to worship. Rev 13:15-16. The false woman and the beast set up a worship in their will [will-worship, their own will, instead of the will of God, directed by the Spirit], and they do not know why any in their will also may not be subject and submit to it. They can give them reasons, they can give them arguments from scripture; and if they will not yield to these, they are to be looked upon as stubborn and refractory, and to be compelled by outward force. This has been the course generally throughout the land of Babylon; but these show hereby that they themselves are erred from the truth, (and therefore very unfit and unlikely to teach it others), for what God works upon is the conscience, which he convinces by the light of his spirit; and no other light can truly convince it. Therefore whatever would have a man yield to any practice, or way of worship, until he is truly convinced, is of the devil. "My son, give me your heart," said Christ, the wisdom of God: come not to me with oblations and sacrifices, but give me your heart. My son, give me your knee, give me your obedience to the ways I have set up, give me your conformity, said antichrist, said the adulterated wisdom: and if any refuse, she endeavors to compel them. Thus, like "Jeroboam the son of Nebat," she makes, (what she calls), Israel to sin: or, like Nebuchadnezzar, she sets up an idol, and causes all her children to bow to it. Thus the load of the iniquity of multitudes lies upon that scarlet whore, who forces her cup of abominations and filthiness upon all she can, Rev 17:4. causing all, both small and great, in all her territories, to receive her mark, and worship her image. The work of the minister of Christ is to keep the conscience tender, that the voice of Christ may be heard, and the law of his spirit of life, (which makes obedient to the God of life), springs up there; but the ministers of antichrist say, "this is the image, here is the way, bow, conform." "But we are not convinced in the sight of God that this is the way," say poor souls. "It is your own fault; you may be convinced if you will," say the ministers of antichrist; "we are ready to give you arguments and scriptures to convince you; how is it you are not convinced? You must be convinced, otherwise the magistrate must deal with you." Thus they endeavor to harden the conscience, that they may sit upon it and ride it, and terrify it from its subjection to its only true and lawful king. Oh, the havoc that has been made of souls by this means! The Lord is requiring it of this generation.
But let me put this question to all the learned and wise, in all the regions of Babylon, under whatever painted form or way. Can any worship God correctly, before they are truly convinced of his will and way? Can any be convinced without his light and spirit? Were it good and acceptable in the sight of God, for any persons to run into that way, of which you say you are convinced that it is the way, before they themselves are convinced? If it is not good and acceptable, what is it that goes about to compel them? Away with your carnal weapons; and if you will draw to God, draw by what is spiritual; but if you will still be using outward force, (running to the laws of men, and power of the magistrate), the Lord has opened an eye, which discovers your nakedness within, and is able to make it manifest in the sight of all people; and you shall not long cover your shame. The Lord's people shall "be a willing people," to follow him "in the day of his power;" but all the Lord's people have been unwilling to follow you in the day of your power, which is near an end; and the very fountain of your deceit, and tyranny over the conscience, is opening and making manifest.
8. Persecution of such as she cannot compel to her worship. She sets up her form of knowledge, she sets up her way of worship, and those that will not be drawn to own the one, and practice the other, she sets her brand upon them for erroneous persons, schismatics, heretics; they must not "buy or sell." Rev 13:17. They must be banished or imprisoned, or perhaps put to death; for she is hardly satisfied, until she has drunk the blood of those, who, in any eminent degree, are the witnesses of Christ against her. Rev 17:6. This was a thing wondered at by John, with great admiration; to see this woman, this great city, out of which all the venomous darts are shot against the saints and martyrs of Jesus, under a pretence of zeal for the church and ordinances of Christ. For this is the engine, by which the dragon makes war with the true woman's seed, (who keep the commands of God, and have the testimony [the spirit of prophecy, which speaks words supplied by the Spirit] of Jesus Christ), even by this false woman which rides on the beast, by whose power and strength she overcomes the saints. She sets up a way of doctrine, a way of worship in a nation, and gets laws made for the defense of it, and against those who will not submit to it; and here she is too hard for the saints; by this means she overcomes the martyrs and witnesses, and keeps the truth down, and keeps up her way of deceit; which, without this prop, would soon fall.
This whorish spirit scents the spirit of the Lord; she knows it will soon be her death, if she cannot make it [the Lord's Spirit] appear odious, and suppress it; therefore she hunts this spirit, she hunts the life and power of what she herself professes, (especially if it appear vigorous and strong in any); she seeks advantages against the servants of the living God, representing them to the earthly powers as persons of dangerous principles and bad practices, inventing all manner of what can be called evil against them, and spreading it among the people, that the truth may start up nowhere in the earth, but everywhere is knocked down by the violence of the multitude, or by the sword of the offended magistrate. Now what is the matter of all this great noise and fury? Why this: A lamb is risen up in the innocence; the pure harmless spirit is appearing in the earth; the true life, (which discovers the hypocrisy, and dead forms and ways of the whorish spirit), is breaking forth; therefore she makes a great outcry: "Awake, people! awake! The church is in danger. Arise, magistrates! Magistracy and ministry will go down, if this lamb-like spirit is allowed." No, no; these shall stand, but Babylon shall fall, and her mystery of iniquity is discovered, and her deceivableness of unrighteousness made manifest; and the true life and spirit shall arise and take possession of the hearts of people, and make them a clean and fit habitation for God. People who are subject to the true life and spirit, shall feel it and enjoy it; even though the merchants of Babylon say, "men shall never be made clean while they live, but must still have a body of sin and death hanging about them." But how can anyone put on Christ, who have not put off the body of sin? Shall those who are made kings and priests to God here on earth, minister in their filthy garments?
These are some of the sins of Babylon, that painted harlot, who is subtle in heart, and lies in wait to deceive, in the absence of the true church, whose clothing and resemblance she takes up and appears in.
And when she had done all this; when, like Egypt, she has kept the seed in bondage in all her territories and dominions, in every church she has set up, and by all her ministries and ordinances; when, like Sodom, she has filled the whole world with filthiness, uncleanness, and all manner of spiritual abominations; when, like old Jerusalem the bondwoman, she and her children have scoffed at the spirit in every appearance, all the time of her reign, and have trampled upon and domineered over them, who have but spoken of the coming of the just One in his people, sporting herself in her own deceits; yet, after all this, she wipes her mouth, and said she has done no harm; she has been for the gospel, and church, and ministry, and ordinances, and the faith once delivered to the saints, and only against deceivers, seducers, blasphemers, and heretics. But the spirit of the Lord cannot be thus deceived; nor shall the nations be always thus deceived, and allow her to sit as a queen upon their consciences; but she shall see sorrow, and they shall taste joy at the sound of the everlasting gospel, when once again it comes to their ears. Rev 14:6 , Rev 19:6-7.
THE JUDGMENT OF BABYLON
Babylon the great, this great city of abominations, which has reigned over the whole earth; which has bewitched all sorts of believers with the golden cup of her fornications; which has subtly led from the life, and held all sorts captive in the witchery of her deceit, and has triumphed over the holy seed, making Zion, their mother, desolate, who sat in the dust, and was trampled upon by her; this great city, this glorious city, this rich city, this mighty powerful city, this queen of the earth, (which does not share what belongs to Zion's misery, sorrow, poverty, and desolation), with antichrist her king and husband, (who has clothed himself with the garments of light, and appeared in the likeness of the king of Zion, and has long been so acknowledged and worshipped), is to be judged by the spirit of life, which arises up out of the dust of Zion.
Although Babylon, the great whore, (who in all her transformings has still remained an enemy to the life), has great power and great wisdom, and can shift very subtly to save herself by both; yet strong is the Lord God who judges her, and he also is wise; and she shall not escape his hand, but he will pursue her with his voices, with his thunderings, with his hailstones, with his earthquakes, with his woes, with his plagues, with his cups of indignation, until he has made her manifest, until he has broken her in pieces, until he has crumbled and laid her in the dust, until he has brought her down to the very pit, where the feet of Zion shall trample upon her forever. Sing, sing, Oh inhabitant of Zion! do you not behold the crown of pride going down rapidly? The decree is sealed against her; she cannot escape. Yes, she is fallen, she is fallen; she is already taken in the snare; the eye of my life sees it, and rejoices over her in the living power.
The plagues of God Almighty, from the fierceness of his indignation, are visiting her whole territories, and passing over all her land. Nothing can help her to avoid his stroke; no paint will serve, no cover will hide, no profession, no practice, no duties, no ordinances, no church, no ministry, can avail to conceal her; but that spirit is pursued by the spirit of the Lord, and found out everywhere, and plagues are prepared and pouring out upon her. No, though she leave all her forms, and pretend to wait and seek for the Lord; yet she is found out there also.
Now what is her judgment? Destruction and utter desolation from the hand of the Lord; to be a hissing and reproach throughout all generations; to be brought down, (by pourings forth of the wrath and vengeance of the Almighty), into the pit, and there to drink the fullness of his wrath forever. Zion shall be exalted; Zion shall drink the cup of life, the cup of blessing, the cup of love, the cup of salvation forever; but Babylon the cup of fury, the cup of indignation forever and ever. Zion shall sing, but Babylon shall howl; and all who saw any beauty, or took any pleasure in her, shall mourn over her. Alas, alas, for her! She, who has so many ages been seen as the church, is now proved to be the whore; those who have been taken in their several transformings for the true ministers, have been made manifest to be the false prophets; their ordinances and duties, only thefts and imitations; things which they have stolen from what they read in the Scriptures, but never received from the hand of the spirit.
The wrath of God, the dreadful cup of his fury, and jealous indignation for the cause of Zion, is to go over her whole land, over her sea, and all the ships that trade within, and all her merchants, with all her precious traffic and merchandize. All her doctrines which she has stolen out of the scripture, all her disciplines, all her experiences, all her performances, (even those which are most like the performances of the former saints); no, though she may speak the very words of truth, yet as they come from her mouth, they shall be thrown by and judged, and be of no service or esteem in Zion. The most precious of her ware shall be dross and dung in the land of life, where there shall be no sea, and no such kind of merchants, traffic, or trading forever.
Her earth also shall be made desolate, and burnt up, with all that is found within; all her settlements shall be shaken; all her fruit trees shall be rooted up; all her fruit shall wither, rot, die, and perish. All her conversions of people to God, as she calls them, shall come to nothing. Yes, and if she have yet any more dresses, or secret coverings, in which she would appear like the church again, and bring forth again; yet she and her children shall immediately be discovered, her flesh burnt with fire, and her children dashed against the stones. Every street in her city, every house and idol in every street, every room in every house, with every inhabitant, shall drink of the cup of astonishment, and stumble and fall, and rise no more. "You have long triumphed over me, Oh my enemy! because I have fallen, and have long sat in darkness; but rejoice no longer for I shall rise again, and the Lord shall be a light unto me; but you shall rise no more, and your light shall be put out forever. Glory to the meek, suffering Lamb, even to him that sits upon the throne of life for ever."
Her air also shall be darkened. The Lord shall enlighten my darkness; but the light of Babylon shall be darkness forevermore. "The light of a candle shall be seen no more at all in you." Many lights has Babylon set up in the dark night; but the rising of the Sun of Righteousness shall extinguish them all forever, and Babylon shall be shut up in utter darkness. Yes, all that have retained to Babylon, all that have walked by the light of any of her candles, that have cried up any of her false ware for orthodox, that have given up their names to her under any of her dresses or appearances, or that have received any of her marks, they shall partake of her shame, of her misery, and of her torment, from the hand of the Lord God. Yes, her throne also shall be visited, and the seat of antichrist in every heart* shall feel the wrath.
Rise up from the dust, and shout forth with joy, Oh captive daughter of Zion, who has long dwelt under oppression, in the midst of the daughter of Babylon. Behold! Babylon's king shall be no longer judge over Zion; but your King shall be judge, and he shall judge the king of Babylon; and let all the powers and potsherds of the earth strive to their utmost; yet, said the Lord, "have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion," and he shall rule in my people, and rule over Babylon.
Learn, therefore, Oh inhabitants of the earth, great and small, meekness; learn righteousness; learn the fear of the Lord; kiss the Son; harden not yourselves against him, calling him a deceiver, a blasphemer, a seducer, a heretic, (for what you do to the least that appear in his life, you do to him): but hearken to the word of his everlasting gospel, which said, "FEAR GOD, AND GIVE GLORY TO HIM, FOR THE HOUR OF HIS JUDGMENT IS COME;" and you cannot escape his hand by that fear which is taught by the precepts of men, or by traditional knowledge out of the Scriptures; nor while you seek that honor which came out of the earth, and is of the earth, and to what is earthly. Therefore let your hearts learn to know him, and your tongues to confess him, and your knees to bow to him; which if you do, you must forget all that knowledge, and those confessions and bowings, which you have learned in Babylon; for though you may have confessed some true things, yet, (having learned this in Babylon), you have confessed falsely; even as the Jews, who said, "the Lord lives," yet swore falsely. Jer 5:2.
Now consider, you ministers of several sorts, and you several sorts of believers: we may appear great enemies to you because we witness against your ways and tell you what the end of them will be; but are we enemies to you indeed, whose desire it is to save you from this great wrath, which has already entered into the earth, and seized on some? If we were to soothe you up, and not witness these things to you, (which we infallibly know), how would we answer it to the Lord our God, or to your souls, when we shall appear before him? If we were in your condition, would we be content to be let things be, and to be overtaken with this great destruction? We cannot be silent. You must be silent; but we cannot. We know you must be silent for what now speaks in you, has been silenced in us, and is not to minister the things of God. But the spirit of the Lord must not be quenched in us, notwithstanding all our weakness; instead the treasure must issue forth from the earthen vessel, for the relief of the poor in spirit, who alone receive the gospel. Therefore, though you hate us, though you persecute us, though you speak all manner of evil against us, and use us ever so hard; yet there is love rooted in our souls toward your souls; yes, and toward your persons also. Having both felt the wrath and tasted of the mercy, we cannot but warn you of the one, and invite you to the other. And oh! that you might find a shelter under the shadow of his wings in the stormy season, when wrath shall be showered down without mercy!
And this we cannot but tell you, that the several ways of religion in the Christian world are only so many several coverings; and that what is covered with them is the whorish spirit, which the spirit of the Lord is hunting; who will strip her, and make her naked, and she shall appear to have been the whore under them all. Now what lies beneath this spirit in you, which is despised and trampled upon as a thing of nothing, which is burdened and daily slain by your multitudes of ordinances, professions, and religious practices; this is the heir of life; and by the raising up and living of this in you, you may come to life, and not otherwise. All religion without this, even the most inward, is only the deceit of the whore, who makes a great show of worship and zeal toward Christ, his ordinances and ministry, (as she calls them); but by all these, and under all these, holds the life in bondage, and strives by all means to slay the heir, that the inheritance might come to her son. But Cain, the sacrificer; Ishmael, the son of the bondwoman; Esau, the hunter abroad after venison; the Jew, full of profession, zeal, ordinances, and worship, shall not inherit; but slain Abel shall be raised to life; Isaac, (who was born of the dry and barren womb), shall have the promise; plain Jacob, the blessing; the outcast Gentile be sought out. Thus it shall be; can you read it? Yet it is the desire of our souls that a remnant of you may be saved, and now is the gathering. Therefore seek humility, seek poverty of spirit, seek the suffering seed, the meek, innocent, harmless, dove-like nature, even the love which does no ill, nor thinks no ill; for this is the spirit which is to be gathered: but the high and lofty, the wise and knowing, the fat and strong, the rough and confident, in their wisdom, and in their duties, churches, ordinances, etc., (which they have gathered and stolen from the Scriptures, out of the life), are with all these to be rejected, and to be shut up in blindness and hardness of heart. "Seeing they are to see, and not perceive; and hearing, to hear, and not understand; for fear they should be converted, and healed." Yes, it is this spirit which is to fret under its pain and torment from the woes and plagues; but cannot repent, but passes on with Babylon to ruin and destruction. Rev 16:9-11. "Babylon is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. Come out of her, my people, that you are not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues." Rev 18:2-4.
This is the cry concerning Babylon just upon her fall. Her iniquity is full, her filth overflows, the pure seed is gathering out of her, and nothing but devils and foul spirits, and unclean, hateful birds, remain in her. And the call still is to the people of God, from one remove to another, from one part of Babylon to another, to travel on, and pass away still, until they come quite out of it all. To come out of one part of Babylonish worship, that is not enough; or to come out of some pieces of Babylonish knowledge and wisdom, will not answer the call; but you must come out of it all. "Depart you, depart you; this is not your rest, for it is polluted." Stay not in any part of the unclean land, Oh child of the pure life! But be separate, and touch not the unclean thing, if you will have the holy One to receive you. Not only the several dresses and forms of the whore are polluted; but her spirit also, and all her inward fabric of religion, out of which you must also come, if you are ever to be joined to the pure life. Your faith, your hope, your love, your patience, your joy, your peace, your justification, your sanctification, your mortification, your ability to pray, to give thanks, to wait, etc., all must go down, all must suffer loss, all must become dross and dung to you, so that you may know the building of true life from and in the spirit. For the Lord will not own any of these, nor receive you with any of these which the whore has touched; but if you will have the pure life, both within and without, you must part with the corrupt life, both within and without. This is a faithful and true testimony; but who can receive it? Will not both the houses of Israel be offended and stumble at it? But if any of the people of God will abide still in Babylon, and not hearken to every call of the spirit of the Lord, to follow its guidance out of every part of her, they shall receive, (from the impartial hand of the Lord), of her plagues, and have torment and sorrow proportional to the glory and pleasure they have had with her. Therefore, if after one, two, three, or many removes out of some parts and practices of Babylon, the voice still follow, crying, "Come out of her, my people", (the spirit of antichrist is yet among you, the wine of fornication from the pure life is not yet purged out of you), do not stop your ears, thinking this belongs not to you, because you have forsaken some paths which are antichristian; but hear and follow; for it is your life, and your way to rest and peace in the land of the living, and your sure preservation from anguish, perplexity, and misery in the hour of Babylon's judgment and sore distress.
Now there is one thing which lies as a great block in the way, to hinder this testimony from entering into the hearts of those to whom it is directed, or at least to weaken the spirit's demonstration of it to their consciences, (for exceeding subtle is the whorish spirit to keep every one of her subjects from the sight or suspicion of her in themselves, and to darken every beam of light, by which it pleases God to make any way for the discovery of her in them), which is this:
Objection. But has all our religion, for these many ages, been Babylonish, and whoredom from the life? All our churches, all our ordinances, all our duties, all our ministry, etc. We can never be drawn to believe this. We are sure we have felt lively touches from God many a time, and enjoyed sweet communion with him in them. God has often met us there, and refreshed our spirits; which he would not have done, had they not been of himself.
Answer. There has been a simplicity and sincerity of heart, stirring in some people towards God, in all ages; even among the heathen, under all their idols; and among the Jews, in the midst of their great apostasy; which simplicity is of God, and acceptable with him, notwithstanding all the load of filth that may hang round about it. Even in the midst of Egypt, or in the midst of Babylon, if Israel groans, the Lord hears, and may return sweet answers to Israel, even there. "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." The lowest breathing of true life towards God is the voice of his Son, and enters into his ear from the darkest part of Egypt or Babylon.
Now in this nation the simplicity has more stirred than in other nations; the seed of God in this land has been exceeding precious and dear to him. And at the beginning of these late troubles, the stirring of the simplicity from the pure seed was more vigorous and lively than it had been in many ages before; and accordingly the answers of God to it were more fresh and sweet; and there was a taste of him, and fellowship with him, and sweet hopes and refreshments to the soul. Though the way of praying, preaching, and worship, either public or private, was not right before him; yet he overlooked what his soul hated, (winking at the time of ignorance and antichristian darkness), and met with what he loved. And if the simplicity had grown and thriven, communion with God, and life from him, would have increased, although the pure path of the sanctuary had not yet been made manifest.
But this was it destroyed all; another thing got up under a cover, and the simplicity sunk; and so the life withdrew, and God has grown strange to his people. He missed what he loved, and came to visit; he found that thrust upon him for his, which his soul cannot own or unite with; and so he became but "as a wayfaring man, that turns aside to tarry for a night." Jer 14:8. Enter into your hearts, Oh you backsliding children! is it not thus? You who had sweet tastes of God, is he not become a stranger to you? You that had sweet, fresh, lively breathings after God, are you not set down in a form, or under some pleasing notions, and have gotten a covering, but lost the simplicity of your life, and the sweet tastes of God, and refreshments from him? Thus it has been in all reformations. There was commonly a pure, single, naked beginning; but an evil thing soon got dominion over it, slaying the pure, living stirring by the form which it raised up, under a pretence of preserving the life thereby, and of serving God more uniformly and acceptably within. Ah! the precious seed that was sown at the beginning of these troubles! What has become of it? How has every one turned aside from the pure life, into some idol or other of his own heart! Some into one way of worship, and some into another; some into one notion, and some into another; and all joining together to keep the seed in bondage, endeavoring either to bring it back again to Egypt, (to make it serve there), or to destroy and bury it in the wilderness. But the Lord has visited this poor, desolate seed, and has been gathering it from all quarters; from amidst all empty forms on the one hand, and all vain, high notions on the other hand; and he will preserve it, overturning all his new enemies, as well as his old.
This then is the sum of the answer.
1. No way, or particular act of worship, under the New Testament, is acceptable to God, without his spirit.
2. All invented or imitated ways or acts of worship, to the performing of which the moving, presence, and power of his spirit are not necessary, but men can perform them without it, are Babylonish, and whoredom from that spirit to which the true Christian is joined, and in which all that he does is performed.
3. Under this anti-christianity, under this whoredom, even in the land of Babylon, where the true Israel is captive, a true simplicity towards God may sometimes be stirring.
4. When this at anytime is stirring towards the Lord, the Lord pities it, the Lord loves it, the Lord accepts it. When this calls, the Lord hears, and waits that he may be gracious, and return answers of grace to it.
5. Though the Lord accept of this in the midst of Babylon, and in the midst of the whorish ways of worship that have been learned there; yet this does not make Babylon, or her ways of worship, acceptable; nor are they to be made use of, (nor cannot), by any who fears God, to justify them.
6. Where they are so made use of, and the Babylonish ways and forms of worship cried up, (because of God's visitations and tender mercy to his seed under them), God is provoked, his presence withdrawn, life lost, and wrath prepared against those forms and ways of worship, which will reach to the very bowels of those who are found there.
And let this word come home to your hearts, Oh you that ever knew what belonged to sweet communion with God! If God was so tender to you in Babylon, when he stirred up in you a pure simplicity and zeal there, what would he have been to you, if you had come out of Babylon? Ah! you have lost the substance for a shadow; and that not a right shadow either, but a shadow of your own forming! and now you are angry with them, who will not also leave the substance to cry up your shadow. Ah! enter into your secret chambers, and let shame cover your faces; you who would propagate that apostasy from the Lord, which your own hearts have too far entered into, and are so deeply involved in. Oh, that the eye were opened in you which can see it! Do not your hearts feel it a little? Oh, mourn after the Lord, and mourn after the loss of what once, (in some measure in you), was true to the Lord. Oh, that the lost sheep might be sought out, and what has been scattered, (in the day of your loftiness, and seeking dominion and great things), might be gathered again to the Lord! for great is the wrath and severity that is towards you, and he has become exceedingly jealous for his seed's sake; and judgment must begin with you, who cry out against antichrist in one external, fleshly appearance, and yet are serving him yourselves, some of you in other forms, some in spirit.
This is a standing truth; whatever is not of the spirit of God in religion and worship, is of the spirit of antichrist. Whatever the spirit of man has invented or imitated, is not the thing itself, is not the true worship; for the true worship is only and continually in the spirit, and never out of the spirit. The true praying is in the spirit; the true singing, in the spirit; the true preaching, in the spirit: whatever is out of it, is of antichrist in man. Now therefore give up all your religion, your knowledge, your worship, your practices, that are out of the spirit; and return unto the Lord, and wait for his raising of that seed in you, which once began to spring, but is now slain, and lies in death and captivity under all these; and the earthly part, (in which all this religion and these practices stand), covers its blood, so as you cannot see how you have slain, and daily do slay, the just One.
Oh the blood, the blood, the innocent blood, that daily cries to the Lord against you! How can the Lord accept any of your services, while your hands are full of blood! while the pure simplicity is slain, the love grown cold, the life lost, and the whorish way and path, (in which and by which it was lost), cried up for the way of God. Shall not the Lord visit for these things? Shall his soul not be avenged on such a nation as this? Yes, his wrath is kindled, the fierceness of his wrath is kindled against the believers of this age, and woe is from the Lord towards them. Woe to the Protestant congregations, woe to the select churches, woe to their pastors, who have helped them to wander from the life to dead idols, which cannot profit; woe to them who are exalted in notions and high knowledge. You have judged and condemned the Papists, and the Lord has found the same spirit of idolatry in you! Turn from your idols, return to your simplicity, put away your adulteries from between your breasts, and return to your first love, and the Lord will receive you, though you have wandered after many lovers, and have been inflamed with the love of idols under every green tree. But in these your church-ways and worships the soul of the Lord abhors you, and all your former zeal and simplicity are blotted out and forgotten; and in your present adultery and idolatry you shall die, unless you hear the voice of the Lord recalling you, and turn at his reproof.
Now in tender bowels to help you a little, consider what follows:
The same spirit that steals away the true simplicity, raises up and steals in a false image of it; which there is no perceiving at present, unless the soul lies very low, and is kept open and clear in the pure light.
And as in the true simplicity, the true light, the true knowledge, the true faith, the true hope, the true love, the true meekness, the true zeal, the true poverty and humility, etc., spring up and are nourished; so in the false image of simplicity, (which the devil secretly conveys in, when he steals away the true), there is a similar form of all these springing up and growing.
Here is the beginning of Babylon in the heart; here are the inward riches and treasures of it. What can Zion pretend to, which Babylon has not in the resemblance? Is there simplicity of heart in Zion? And is there not simplicity of heart among the inhabitants of Babylon? Yes, a false image. Is there light in Zion? And is there not also light in Babylon? Yes, there is the light of the sun, and the light of the moon, and the light of the stars which fell from heaven, and the light of many candles shining in Babylon. Is there a true knowledge, in Zion? There is knowledge, falsely so called, in Babylon. A false knowledge of the cross of Christ; a false knowledge of his death; a false knowledge of his blood, without feeling the living virtue of it, which truly washes away the sin. So for faith, hope, love, meekness, zeal, humility, etc, there are false images of all these in Babylon, and of whatever else is wrought in truth in the inhabitants of Zion.
Now when the truth is lost, and the false image crept in, (both which are done at unawares, while the husbandman is asleep, and so he perceives it not, but thinks in his very heart that it is still the seed of truth that is growing up in him), then begins the mystery of fornication, idolatry, witchcraft, and all manner of spiritual wickedness and deceit to work in the heart. Your believing, your hoping, your love, your zeal, your praying, your waiting, etc., all here is abomination; it is from a false root; it is of a false kind; it is not of the true seed. The enemy has stolen away that, while you were negligent and slumbering; and all this arises in you from the seed which he did sow instead, and is the fruit of the land of Babylon.
And having thus committed inward whoredom in your own heart, then you sought and set up outward ways of whoredom also. Having first set up an inward image of the inward life of the saints, you then sought and set up another image of their outward worship; an image of a church, an image of a ministry, an image of ordinances, an image of praying, an image of singing, an image of preaching, an image of baptism, an image of the saints' communion. And thus you are defiled within and without: and are mad with envy and rage that you can not bewitch the inhabitants of Zion, (who are kept pure from all these defilements, and reserved as witnesses against you), into your bed of whoredoms. And thus, while you think you are the chief worshipper, you are all over polluted; "the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint;" there is no cleanness, no soundness, within or without, but "wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores," which "have not been closed, neither bound up, nor mollified with oil:" but the hurt of the daughter of my people has been healed deceitfully, by physicians of no value, who have not the oil. Isa 1:5-6, Job 13:4.
This is generally the state of believers of this day; but they cannot see it: for they have put out the eye of the simplicity, (with which alone God will suffer the things of life to be seen), and God has blinded the eye of their wisdom, that they shall not see, nor be converted and healed that way. So that exceeding miserable is their estate: they will not see God's way, and God will not let them see their way. So that though there is "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little; yet it is that they might stumble, and fall, and be snared, and broken, and taken." For as discoveries of truth grow more clear and manifest; so they grow more hardened against it. And as they, on the one hand, increase in walking contrary to God; so God, on the other hand, proceeds in walking contrary to them; delighting more and more to stumble the wise, disputing part, which would so willingly know, but must be made blind, that the eye of the babe may be opened, which sees that in the childish simplicity, which the other eye can never reach in the most manly wisdom.
Therefore put away all your images and likenesses of truth. Put away your false faith, (which can never overcome the worldly nature and spirit in you), and your false hope, (which can never purify your hearts), and your feigned humility, and self-willed fasts, (which can never bring down the lofty, exalted nature in you), and your false love, (with which you can never love the brethren in the truth, but only the brethren in your notions, or some such other likeness of the truth), and your false zeal, meekness, holiness, etc., (all which spring and grow up from the wrong seed, in a seeming simplicity): and all your praying reading, preaching, etc., which you have taken up and do practice in your own wills, which should be crucified; and with which no service, worship, or performance, can be pleasing to God. Wait for the raising of the true seed of life, in the true simplicity, by which you may serve God acceptably here, and be saved hereafter. And do not be mockers, for fear your bands are made strong; for the consumption is determined against you by that Spirit of life, whose breath will waste you. All flesh is grass, and the glory thereof as the flower of the field! Surely this people is grass, and their zeal and profession of God, like the fading flower.
SOME PLAIN QUERIES
Drawn out of the book of the REVELATIONS, for all sorts of believers of this age to answer between GOD and their own souls; that they may see whether they have received that light from him, which his Spirit judged necessary to give forth, to keep people chaste to him, and to preserve them from the several painted beds of antichrist's fornications and whoredoms from the Life.
The time of deceit was then at hand for antichrist, (with his false church, and false prophets), to get up, which were to last until "the hour of judgment." Rev 14:7-8. Have you read? Have you heard? Have you kept the things written in this book? Then you are happy!
But have you not read in the Spirit? Have you not heard the true sound of these things from the Spirit of life? Have you not kept the things written within? Then you have been deceived with the mystery of iniquity, and must smart with the whore in the hour of her judgment.
The QUERIES are these which follow:
FIRST, WHAT woman was what was clothed with the sun, and had the moon under her feet, etc. Rev 12:1. Whether it was the true church or not?
SECOND. What that wilderness was where she fled; where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there 1260 days? Rev 12:6.
THIRD. How long did those 1260 days last, and whether they have expired, and whether the true church is anywhere else to be found all the time of the 1260 days, but in that place in the wilderness?
FOURTH. What are all the churches, the ministry, the ordinances, that appear out of the wilderness all this while, while the true church is banished to the wilderness?
FIFTH. What was that beast which came out of the sea; to which the dragon gave his power, his seat, and great authority; which all the world worshipped? Rev 13:1- 5.
SIXTH. What is that sea, and those ships, in which and with which the merchants of the earth traded with Babylon, and were made rich by their traffic? What were those merchants? What was their merchandize? And what kind of riches was this? Rev 18:15-20.
SEVENTH. What was that name of God, and that tabernacle, and those inhabitants of heaven, which were blasphemed by the beast that arose out of the sea, all the time of the forty-two months? Rev 13:5-6.
EIGHTH. What is the Lamb's book of life? And where is it? And how are the names of any so written in it, as to preserve them from the worship of the beast? Rev 13:8.
NINTH. What is that beast that came up out of the earth, with the horns of a lamb, (as if it came up in the Lamb's power), which does great wonders, and justifies his sacrifice, by making fire come down from heaven in the sight of men; who both caused men to make an image to the first beast, and also puts life into the image which men make? Rev 13:11, etc. So that here is not a mere dead image, but there is life in the beast's knowledge, ordinances, and worship; (yet with God all this is dead, for it is not the true life).
TENTH. What is the beast's mark, his name, his number? Rev 13:17. For if I do not infallibly know this, I may have received his mark; I may help to make up his name; I may be of his number, and be, unknown to myself, a worshipper of him and his image, and so be liable to partake of the torment of the fire and brimstone threatened to such. Rev 19:20.
ELEVENTH. What is that song, which none could learn but the 144,000, which were not defiled with women, but remained virgins? Rev 14:3.
TWELFTH. What was that other woman, which took and kept the place of the former woman, after she had fled into the wilderness, and enlarged her territories in nations, kindred, tongues, and peoples? Rev 17:4, and ver. 15.
THIRTEENTH. What were the purple and scarlet colors, and the gold and precious stones she was decked with? Rev 17: 4.
FOURTEENTH. What was the golden cup she had in her hand, which was full of abominations, and filthiness of her fornications; in the midst of all her glorious appearance of zeal, devotion, humility, and holiness? Rev 17: 4.
FIFTEENTH. What kind of drunkenness was it, with which the kings and inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of this cup? Rev 17:2.
SIXTEENTH. How may those who have hated the whore, and made her desolate and naked, and eat her flesh, and burned her with fire, yet after all this, give their kingdom again to the beast? Rev 17:16-17. How may this be done? and how often may it be done?
These are plain, simple queries, not to entangle men's minds, or set their brains on work, (for that way shall they never be able to resolve them), but to awaken the simplicity in them, which will readily let them see what the Lord has revealed to them within, and in which they are to wait for the knowledge of, that they may escape or come out of the snare. And in the meantime not to boast, as Israel of old did, (when the prophets from the mouth of the Lord accused them), that they had not "polluted themselves," they had not "gone after Balaam", Jer 2:23,35; but wait Oh backsliding Christian! and you shall "see the way in the valley." And though you have often traversed your ground to change your path, gadding from one form to another, from one notion to another; yet all this has been out of the life, out of the pure power, and still in the whoredom. Open the weak, sick eye in the weak heart, (for how weak is your heart, while you have done all this!), and let the languishing simplicity be my witness; for, (under all your wisdom, your zeal, your knowledge, your worship), that faints, that fails, that is not what it was in the beginning. Though you are grown much higher, wiser, and greater otherwise, yet there you have lost; and you will be happy, if all your gains ever since are lost to you for the recovering of this.
Helping out of the suburbs or outskirts of Babylon, that her inward building may be the better accessed, and lie more open to the axe and hammer, which are to batter it down, and to cut it for the fire.
First, consider what it was the church fled out of, when she fled into the wilderness. Was it not out of that church-state or building, which the Spirit of God had raised up for her here in the world, to which her ordinances, and way of church-worship belonged? Was it not here that the dragon assaulted her, and from where she fled into a desolate place and state?
Secondly, What spirit entered into these, when she fled out of them? Were not these the conqueror's spoils? Did not antichrist get possession of the form? Did not the whore get the spouse's attire? Did not the wolves gather up the sheep's clothing, and clothe themselves therewith? Was not the outward court, (what is the outward court under the gospel, but the visible church-state, with the visible ordinances thereof?), given to the Gentiles, who trod under foot the holy city, all the while they were worshipping in the outward court? Rev 11:2.
Thirdly, What spirit is it directs men to these, since the true church has been fled out of them? And to what intent? Is it not that spirit which would keep men from the life, that they might not be born of the barren womb in the wilderness, but be born of some of the fruitful wombs of the visible churches; while the true church is invisible, and has no visible place in the earth, but remains in that place in the wilderness which God prepared for her, and where she receives her food all the forty-two months? Rev 12:6 & 14.
I have been hurt deeply for these things, and have been taught by the briars and thorns of the wilderness, by which my ears came to be opened, to hear the sound of the everlasting gospel, to which they were before through ignorance stopped. For I also did believe and expect great things in a church-state and way of worship; and in simplicity of heart did I enter into it, and walk in it, and was not without knowledge, warmth, and experiences there. But all this the Lord broke down by a strong hand, in one moment; and has taught me since to throw away all my gains here, and elsewhere, and to count them but dross and dung, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord. And having tasted, having seen, having felt, having handled, I cannot but commend the life; and dissuade all men from all knowledge, all worship, all religion, all ways, and practices, (though ever so taking, pleasant, and promising), out of the life. And this is to know Christ, namely, to know the life; and this is to obey Christ, to obey the life; and this is the kingdom of Christ which is to come, to have the life reign in power and great glory. But the knowing or believing of a history concerning Christ, this is not the knowledge or the faith; antichrist all along the apostasy, in all his various forms and dresses, has known and believed the history. This kind of knowledge must pass away, further than it can find a place and service in the life. Do not be angry at my testimony; it flows from pure love, and comes forth in great good-will to your souls.
Yes, if it is possible that I might be a little serviceable to you, (for my soul travails for the redemption of believers from the witchery of the whorish spirit, even of such as are ready to revile what alone can redeem them), in the meekness and coolness of your spirits, out of the fiery, false zeal, consider yet a little further these few things following:
1. The state of the gospel is an invisible state, a state consisting of invisible things, (as the law was a visible state, or a state consisting of visible things); the light invisible, the life invisible, the power invisible; what converts invisible, what is converted invisible, what it is converted to invisible, and the whole course of spiritual life lies invisible.
2. This invisible state has a visible way of appearance to the world, by garments which it wears, by motions and exercises which the life chooses for it to appear in.
3. These garments are subject to corrupt, and to be worn by what is corruptible, and corrupted. That which has not the life may put on the garment; and what has lost the life may still keep the garment.
4. The preservation of the life lies not in the garment, or in the observation of anything in which the life did once appear; but the preservation of the garment lies in the life. And the life may change its garment at its pleasure, and may refuse to wear those any more which the whore has worn, but as the life again leads.
5. When the life is at anytime lost, the only way of recovery is by retiring to the invisible, and keeping there, and growing up there; and not coming forth in the visible further than the life leads, nor staying there any longer than the life stays.
Now this is the mistake of persons generally; they look for the finding the invisible life in visibles. They run to corrupted ordinances and ways of devotion, and think to find God there: but do not wait to feel him in their hearts, and to be led by him into what he pleases; and to stay no where any longer than while he stays there, but to follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
Some others mistake in running to that, and waiting there where they once felt life, but do not know the way to wait on the life itself; and so they are running to an image, waiting at an image, worshipping of an image, and the living God will not meet them there. But throw away your images; let Ephraim, the dear child, say to his idols, Get away from here; thrust away your adulteries which provoke the eye of God's jealousy, receive the forerunner, (the severe purifier), into your bosoms, and let the fire of his jealousy cleanse your hearts, and the pure will soon come after, and lodge again between your breasts. Can you hear this sound? That which is born of the same wisdom, cannot but hear it; but the other birth must have its ear stopped.
Now hearken to this advice. When the invisible life is felt and known, do not disdain to follow it into whatever visible thing it leads. Do not let your wisdom judge what the life will lead into, or what the life is to be followed in; but let the life itself be judge; and let the child, which is born of the life, follow it singly, without murmuring, without disputing. The life has foolish ways, (to the eye of your wisdom), of breaking the wisdom in you, which is contrary to it, which your wisdom will be reasoning and disputing against; and if that wisdom is hearkened to, the life is overturned in its course, and the head of the serpent remains found in you, which the foolish and weak things, (which the wisdom of God chooses to cross and disturb it by), would help to break and crush.
AN EXHORTATION TO THE PRESENT POWERS
Babylon the great, the mystery of iniquity, which has deceived and held captive the whole Christian world for these many generations, under forms and appearances of godliness and devotion, is at length come into remembrance before God, who is arisen to judge her, and overturn her seat. The army has been preparing, and many soldiers have been drawn forth; the trumpet has sounded, the battle is begun, and blood has been shed on both sides; the blood of the creature on the one side, the blood of the whorish spirit on the other side.
The whore, (with the power of the beast on which she rides, and by whose strength and assistance she makes war with the Lamb), is mighty and dreadful; and it has long been said, "Who is able to make war with the beast?", (whose strength is hers). But the Lord God, (who has risen out of his holy habitation to judge, and has begun to judge her), is more mighty; by whose arm and strength she shall fall, and the beast shall not be able to carry her up and down any longer; no, nor to uphold her in her seat of government over the consciences of men.
Be wise now, therefore, and consider the present state of things; and if you find not hearts to help the Lord against the mighty, yet take heed of helping the mighty against the Lord. The vessels in which the life arises and appears, are poor and very contemptible, and you may easily trample upon them; but the life which rises up in them is very precious, and too strong for the powers of earth or of hell. The Lord did not appear formerly among you, or of late begin to raise you up again, that you should become enemies to him, or helpers of his enemies against him; but that you might let his seed go forth to worship him in the wilderness, (for in this dark land of Egypt they cannot). Therefore break the yokes, and take off the burdens, and let there be no new snares laid; but leave the conscience, (where the Lord chooses to appear, and which he delights to draw out of the world to himself), free to the Lord.
The Lord has kindled, and is kindling, the fire with which he is burning, and will burn, the flesh of the whore. Come not near to help her, for fear you feel the flames. Stand afar off and see her burning, and at most pity her, but help her not.
We fight not against the flesh and blood of creatures, but against that evil spirit which captivates and makes them miserable; nor do we fight with carnal weapons, but with such weapons as are able to reach that spirit. Now if you interpose with your carnal weapons, and smite the vessel which the Lord is pleased to make use of in this warfare, his hand will be upon you. Yes, if you endeavor to bear off the stroke from the whore, it will light upon yourselves, and the Lord's hand, (and his strokes in this day of his jealousy and vengeance), is very heavy.
Do what you can, you shall not be able to hinder the Lord's victory, (who will overcome, even by this very people, whom the wise of all sorts despise). All that you can do in taking part with the enemy, is but to bring wounds and judgments upon yourselves, and to shorten the days of your government. But the work of the Lord will go on and prosper; and this painted harlot, (which pretends to be the spouse of Christ, and has decked herself so pleasingly with her stolen knowledge of scriptures, and lays claim to his ministry and ordinances), shall be stripped naked, and her shame seen, and every child in the life shall be able to point at her; and the song of triumph over the dragon, the beast, the false churches, and all the false prophets, (who are not made, nor prophesy not, by the anointing), shall be sung in righteousness, even to the Lamb, who daily gets, and will get, perfect victory; for to him it is given over all his enemies.
The redemption of the soul is by the Spirit of the Lord; which he who would enjoy from it, must know its appearance and operation in himself, and not quench or limit it, but universally be subject to its guidance and leadings. All man's inward misery arises from man's inward rebellion, which is as the sin of witchcraft, (springing from the spirit of witchcraft). His recovery and happiness are in the faith and obedience to the pure power, movings, and operations of the Spirit in him.
The Lord God, who made mankind, who is the Lord of all, he is redeeming a people to himself by his Spirit. And this Spirit will not be limited by the powers of the earth, but will break nations in pieces, and trample upon princes as mortar, and as the potter treads clay, until it has made its way through them.
Oh! Open the eye, the inward eye, which can discern the seasons. It is not now the time for antichrist to prevail, or for proud flesh to rise up in its heady will, to stop the outgoings of its Maker. This season is past; and the season of the prevailing of the life and power of the Sun of Righteousness has now come.
Therefore lift up your heads, Oh you weak and faint of the flock! For iniquity and oppression must fall both within and without; and the tender God of everlasting love will turn back the captivity of his people, and of his creatures. Therefore do not be frightened at the inward power of sin in the heart, nor at the outward oppressing powers of the earth; for the Redeemer's strength is above all, and he is stretching forth his mighty arm to save: in the true and living faith of the elect it is felt.
And Oh you pottery shards of the earth! Strive not with your Maker, limit him not, for he will assuredly break through you. Think not to subject him to your laws; but learn his law, come under his yoke, and be bound by him, that you may taste of his liberty. Wash your lips, and kiss the Son, and do not be angry at his various appearances so contrary to your wisdom; but fear his dreadful name, and his threshing instrument which has teeth; and seek a hiding place under the shadow of his wings, against the sharp season of the breaking forth of his wrath, and jealous indignation for the cause of Zion, which hastens apace.
He has long let the spirit of Babylon have its liberty, and the Lord's Spirit has been silent. Now is the time for his Spirit to speak, and for Babylon's to be silent. Will you still force him to silence, and open Babylon's mouth? Will you not allow him to speak, but according to the laws and orders of Babylon? Must that counterfeit queen still sit on the throne among you, and the true princess be made her servant? Oh let it not be grievous to you, to see the Spirit of the Lord arise, and make Babylon appear Babylon! Her wisdom, her knowledge, her unity, her uniformity, her order, her comeliness, her beauty; are but folly, confusion, disorder, and deformity before the Lord. Happy is the eye that sees it, and the foot that turns from her.
Therefore awake, arise, and stand up from the dead. Come out of the thick, dark land, where the pure God of life is not to be found. "Come out of Babylon, and touch not the unclean," that the pure life may receive you into unity with itself: but the spirit that is not purged from its Babylonish worships and practices, the Lord will not allow to come near him. Therefore search what is Babylon, and of Babylon, in all your ways and worships; and wait on the Spirit of the Lord to be redeemed out of it, and separated from it, or you must remain separated from the Lord, and not partake of his life and virtue, from which that city, with all her inhabitants, is shut out forever.
The Lord has had a sore controversy with this nation, (with her rulers, her teachers, and people), for his seed's sake, which he has been begetting to himself, and calling forth to worship him, (according to the pure law of his Spirit of life), out of the ways, worships, and heathenish customs of the earthly spirit.
Israel is his first-born, whom he will not have any longer kept in bondage. They are his own, of his own begetting and forming, of his own nourishing and bringing up; the plants of his own right hand, whom he waters with the dews of heaven, and with the showers of his everlasting mercy and loving kindness; whom he has gathered by the arm of his power, and whom he leads. and defends by his cloud, and pillar of fire; over whom he is tender as of the apple of his eye. They are his anointed ones, whom he will not have touched, but rebukes kings and parliaments, armies and councils, for their sakes; saying, "Touch not my anointed; and do my prophets no harm."
Have you not seen, how no strength nor counsel has been able to prevail against them? They have had no fence, but the arm which has gathered them. What plottings and contrivings have there been against them! How are they, as sheep appointed for the slaughter, destined to be devoured, crushed, and trodden underfoot; what divinations and enchantments have been used against them, even to blot out their name and remembrance from the earth!
But why do you strive and contend thus with the God of Jacob? Can you prosper? He who made the earth, will not you let him have room within for his people? Must they be subject to your wills? Must they bow to your image? Shall not the God of the spirits of all flesh have the command of the spirits of his own people? Can you stop the Spirit of God from breathing upon them? Or will you fall foul upon them, if they are obedient to the breathings and movings of his Spirit? May it not suffice that they are innocent and harmless among you in their conversations and practices, but will you still lord it over their consciences? Will you put the Lord to it, to the very last, to try it out with you, whether he can defend his people, and make way for their liberty?
Well! if peace is taken from you; if your rulers, laws, and governments are broken in pieces; if his hand is stretched forth against you; if he curses your very blessings, whom can you blame? Why do you provoke him against your own souls? Are you stronger than he? If you are stronger and wiser, you may prevail: but if he is stronger, and will put forth his arm, his people shall be saved, and find a shelter in him, in the midst of all that wrath which is pouring down upon you. Your peace has been lengthened out for their sakes. "If it had not been for their sakes," (for the remnant which the Lord has had to gather), "you had, ere this, been as Sodom, and like unto Gomorrah." The land is full of filthiness, which the Lord's soul loathes; and instead of drawing forth the sword against it, you draw it forth against his witnesses. There is liberty enough for sin and vanity, for excess and riotousness, for images and idols: but to worship God in spirit, to obey his pure movings; this kindles your rage, and these are the people who are a burthen to you. Ah! how willing would you ease you of this people!, (Zion is indeed a burdensome stone, and will fall heavy on all that meddle with her). But the Lord will ease himself of the adversaries of his life and Spirit, and he will bring forth his righteousness which he has prepared, and set it up in the earth, and none shall be able to stop him. Therefore gather yourselves together in battle; associate yourselves, that you may be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, it shall come to nothing; speak the word, it shall not stand: but the Lord's counsel shall stand, and he will fulfil all his pleasure, and will delight himself in his people, and raise them up by the fall of their enemies: and then you shall see against whom you have plotted and contended, and what you have helped to bring about by all your secret plots and designs. "If the Lord had not been on our side, now may Israel say;" if the Lord had not been on our side, what had become of his poor people! Ah, poor worm Jacob! how often would the foot of pride have trampled you down again and again, had not the everlasting arm been stretched out for you! but fear not, worm Jacob, nor be solicitous for your preservation, but trust that arm which delights to preserve you.
Ah foolish people and unwise; who strive against your own mercy; who see not on what hinge all your mercies hang, but make it your work to break down the wall that defends you!
Jerusalem is the city of the great King, which is coming down from heaven; and Israel is his people; and both must have a place in the earth. The Lord has determined it, and who can withstand it? What prejudice can Jerusalem, or the inhabitants thereof, bring unto you? They are enemies, indeed, to this earthly state of things, and would have all brought into subjection to the life and power of their king, and all that stands in opposition to God brought down, and made pliable to his spirit; and this the unyoked earthly spirit cannot bear. But this is the interest of your souls, and the way to unity with that life which is their happiness, peace, and rest forever. For if you could pass through the fire, and bear the burning up of your dross, you also might become vessels for the finer, and might dwell with them in their everlasting habitation.
The saints formerly had an entrance ministered to them into the everlasting kingdom, and came unto Mount Zion, which cannot be removed; and to Jerusalem, the city of the living God, Heb 12:22, where the blood of sprinkling, the peace that passes understanding, the everlasting righteousness, and the joy unspeakable and full of glory, were witnessed in the renewed spirit, which receives the kingdom which cannot be shaken, and enters into the everlasting rest.
And it is again revealed, and the witnesses shall ascend into heaven in the sight of their enemies; even into the new heaven and the new earth, where righteousness dwells; and the old heaven and the old earth, (with all their inhabitants), shall be burnt up: and then it shall be seen that righteousness becomes, and belongs to, the house of God forever. And his city shall be a quiet habitation, free from all the noise and hurry of Babylon; where the pure river of life runs clear, free from all the mud and mixtures of Babylon; and the Lord God of infinite fullness will not disdain communion with his creatures, but will tabernacle among them, dwell with them, sup with them, walk in them, and take them into his holy habitation, and they shall dwell with him, sup with him, and walk in him.
But who shall abide in his tabernacle? Who shall dwell in his holy hill? he who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart, etc., he who despises the vile person, (however great and however high), but honors those who fear the Lord, whatever else they will. This man shall dwell on high, above the reach of all low, creeping, dark spirits, even in that holy habitation of life and power, which nothing can touch or annoy.
I shall now conclude with a few words concerning the present estate of this poor, distracted nation, (England in the 17th Century).
This nation has long lain wounded and sick. She has had many physicians, (on whom she has spent much), who have promised her fair, but have not effected her cure. Of late her wound has been much enlarged. Yes, she has become sick at her very heart, and in great danger. Many are spending their judgment upon her; some thinking a king would help all, some a parliament, and some hoping for good from the army; but every eye sees her case to be very desperate. Ah England, England! you strive with your Maker, and he overturns your strength and councils. The life and wisdom which you despise, is what alone can heal you. You strive to keep off the strokes from the enemies of God, and smite his dear ones; how can he spare you? Hand still joins in hand to keep the Lord's stroke from reaching Babylon, which he has directed at her heart, and will not miss her, but will pierce through everything that stands in his way. Though the cry has long been, Hurt not the tender conscience; it is that on which God works, and in which he chooses to appear, and with which he is pleased, and pities. Many promises have been, touching liberty of conscience; yet still the meek of the earth, the innocent lambs of Christ, (those that are faithful to the light of God in their consciences), are persecuted and suffer. What can you plead, Oh England! why the Lord should not break you all in pieces, and save his people himself, by and in the midst of your ruins? The Lord will have the victory over you in this particular, about which he has so long striven with you. It would be better and easier for you to yield unto, than be forced by, his hand. Therefore, at length hear his voice, which has so often and so loudly cried to you, "Let my people go, that they may serve me."
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