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Address to the Clergy continued [Segment 3/3]
[Addr-161] But now Corruption, Sin, Death, and every Evil of the World, have entered into the Church, the Spouse of Christ, just as they entered into Eve, the Spouse of Adam in Paradise, in the same Way, and from the same Cause, viz., a Desire of more, or other Knowledge, than that which comes from God alone. This Desire is the Serpent's Voice within every Man, which does all that to him, and in him, which the Serpent at the Tree did to Eve. It carries on the first deceit, it shows and recommends to him that same beautiful Tree of own Will, own Wit, and own Wisdom, springing up within him, which Eve saw in the Garden; and yet so blind is this Love of Wisdom as not to see, that his eating of it is in the strictest Truth his eating of the same forbidden Fruits as Eve did, and keeping up in himself all that Death and Separation from God, which the first Knowledge-Hunger brought forth.
[Addr-162] Let then the eager Searcher into Words for Wisdom, the Book-Devourer, the Opinion-Broker, the Exalter of human Reason, and every projecting Builder of religious Systems, be told this, that the Thirst and Pride of being learnedly Wise in the Things of God, is keeping up the grossest Ignorance of them, and is nothing else but Eve's old Serpent, and Eve's evil Birth within them, and does no better work in the Church of Christ, than her Thirst after Wisdom did in the Paradise of God. Speak, Lord, for thy Servant heareth, is the one only Way by which any Man ever did, or ever can attain Divine Knowledge, and Divine Goodness. To knock at any other door but this, is but like asking Life of that which is itself Dead, or praying to him for Bread who has nothing but stones to give.
[Addr-163] Now strange as all this may seem to the labor-learned Possessor of far-fetched Book-Riches, yet it is saying no more, nor any Thing else, but that which Christ said in these Words, "Except ye be converted, and become as little Children, ye cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." For, if classic Gospellers, Linguist Critics, Scripture-logicians, Salvation Orators, able Dealers in the grammatic Powers of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman, serif Phrases, Idioms, Tropes, Figures, &c., &c., can show, that by raising themselves high in these Attainments, they are the very Men that are sunk Down from themselves into Christ's little Children of the Kingdom of God, then it may be also said, that he who is labouring, scheming, and fighting for all the Riches he can get from both the Indies, is the very Man that has left all to follow Christ, the very Man that "labors not for the Meat that perishes."
[Addr-164] Show me a Man whose Heart has no Desire, or Prayer in it, but to love God with his whole Soul and Spirit, and his Neighbor as himself, and then you have shown me the Man who knows Christ, and is known of him;The best and wisest Man in the World, in whom the first paradisaical Wisdom and Goodness are come to life. Not a single Precept in the Gospel, but is the Precept of his own Heart, and the Joy of that new-born heavenly Love which is the Life and Light of his Soul. In this Man, all that came from the old Serpent is trod under his Feet, not a Spark of Self, of Pride, of Wrath, of Envy, of Covetousness, or worldly Wisdom, can have the least Abode in him, because that Love, which fulfilleth the whole Law and the Prophets, that Love which is God and Christ, both in Angels and Men, is the Love that gives Birth, and Life, and Growth to every Thing that is either Thought, or Word, or Action in Him. And if He has no Share or Part with foolish Errors, cannot be tossed about with every Wind of Doctrine, it is because, to be Always governed by this Love, is the same Thing as to be Always taught of God.
[Addr-165] On the other Hand, show me a Scholar as full of Learning, as the Vatican is of Books, and he will be just as likely to give all that he has for the Gospel-Pearl, as he would be, if he was as rich as Croesus. Let no one here imagine, that I am writing against all human Literature, Arts and Sciences, or that I wish the World to be without them. I am no more an Enemy to them, than to the common useful Labours of Life. It is literal Learning, verbal Contention, and critical Strife about the Things of God, that I charge with Folly and Mischief to Religion. And in this, I have all learned Christendom, both Popish and Protestant on my Side. For they both agree in charging each other with a bad and false Gospel-State, because of that which their Learning, Logic, and Criticism do for them. Say not then, that it is only the iliterate Enthusiast that condemns human Learning in the Gospel Kingdom of God. For when he condemns the Blindness and Mischief of popish Logic and Criticism, he has all the Learned Protestant World with him; and when he lays the same Charge to Protestant Learning, he has a much larger Kingdom of popish great Scholars, logically and learnedly affirming the same Thing. So that the private Person, charging human Learning with so much Mischief to the Church, is so far from being led by Enthusiasm, that he is led by all the Church-learning that is in the World.
[Addr-166] Again, all learned Christendom agrees in the same Charge against temporal Power in the Church, as hurtful to the very Being and Progress of a Salvation-Kingdom that is not of this World, as supporting Doctrines that human Learning has brought into it. And true it is and must be, that human Power can only support and help forward human Things.The Protestant brings Proof from a thousand Years' Learning and Doctrines, that the Pope is an unjust Usurper of temporal Power in the Church, which is Christ's spiritual Spouse. The Papist brings the Learning of as many Ages to show that a temporal Head of the Church is an Anti-Christian Usurpation. And yet (N.B.) he who holds Christ to be the one, only Head, Heart, and Life of the Church, and that no Man can call Jesus, Lord, but by the Holy Ghost, passes with the learned of both these People for a brain-sick Enthusiast. Is it not then high Time to look out for some better Ground to stand upon, than such Learning as this? Now look where you will, through all the whole Nature of Things, no Divine Wisdom, Knowledge, Goodness, and Deliverance from Sin, are anywhere to be found for fallen Man, but in these two Points; (1) a total entire Entrance into the whole Process of Christ; (2) a total Resignation to, and sole Dependence upon the continual Operation of the Holy Ghost, or Christ come again in the Spirit, to be our never-ceasing Light, Teacher, and Guide into all those Ways of Virtue, in which he himself walked in the Flesh. All besides this, call it by what Name you will, is but dead Work, a vain Labor of the old Man, to new create himself. And here let it be well observed, that in these two Points consists the whole of that mystic Divinity, to which a Jewish Orthodoxy at this Day is so great an Enemy. For nothing else is meant, or taught by it, but a total dying to Self (called the Process or Cross of Christ) that a new Creature (called Christ in us, or Christ come in the Spirit) may be begotten in the Purity, and Perfection of the first Man's Union with God. Now, let the Christian World forget, or depart from this one mystic Way of Salvation, let anything else be thought of or trusted to but the Cross of Christ, and the Spirit of Christ, and then, though Churches, and Preachers, and Prayers, and Sacraments are everywhere in Plenty, yet nothing better can come of it than a Christian Kingdom of Pagan Vices, along with a Mouth-Belief of an holy Catholic Church, and Communion of Saints. To this melancholy Truth, all Christendom both at home and abroad bears full Witness. Who need be told, that there is not a Corruption or Depravity of human Nature, no Kinds of Pride, Wrath, Envy, Malice, and Self-love; no sorts of Hypocrisy, Falseness, Cursing, Swearing, Perjury, and Cheating; no Wantonness of Lust in every Kind of Debauchery, but are as common all over Christendom, as Towns and Villages? But to pass these by, I shall only instance in two or three Particulars, which though little observed, and less condemned, yet fully show that the Beast, the Whore, and the fiery Dragon, are in Possession of Protestant as well as Popish Churches.
[Addr-167] And First, can it be said that Mammon is less served by Christians, than by Jews and Infidels? Or can there be a fuller Proof that Christians, Jews, and Infidels, are equally fallen from God and all Divine Worship, since Truth itself has told us, that we cannot serve God and Mammon? Is not this as unalterable a Truth, and of as great Moment, as if it had been said, Ye cannot serve God and Baal? Or can it with any Truth or Sense be affirmed, that the Mammonist has more of Christ in him than the Baalist, or is more or less an Idolator for being called a Christian, a Jew, or an Infidel? Look now at all those Particulars which Christ charged upon the Jewish Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees, and you will see them all acted over again in the fallen State of Christendom. And if God's Prophets were again in the World, they would have just the same Complaints against the fallen Christian Church, as they had against the old carnal stiff-necked Jews, namely, "that of their Silver and Gold they had made themselves Idols," Hos. viii.4. For though figured Idol-Gods of Gold are not now worshipped either by Jews or Christians, yet Silver and Gold with that which belongs to them is the Mammon God, that sits and reigns in their Hearts. How else could there be that universal Strife through all Christendom, who should stand in the richest and highest Place, to preach up the Humility of Christ, and offer spiritual Sacrifices unto God? What God but Mammon could put into the Hearts of Christ's Ambassadors, to make, or want to make a Gain of that Gospel, which from the Beginning to the End means nothing else but Death to Self, and Separation from every View, Temper, and Affection, that has any Connection with the Lusts of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life? Our Blessed Lord said a Word to the Jews, that might well have made their Ears to tingle, when he told them that they "had made his Father's House a Den of Thieves"; because Sheep and Oxen were sold, and Money-Changers sitting in the outer Court of the Temple. Now if you will say, that Mammon has brought forth no Profanation like this in our Christian Church, your best Proof must be this, because our Church-Sale, is not Oxen and Sheep, but holy Things, Cures of Souls, Parsonages, Vicarages, &c., and our Money-Changers, our Buyers, and Sellers, are chiefly consecrated Persons.
[Addr-168] Look at Things spiritual, and Things temporal, and say if you can, that the same Arts, the same Passions, and worldly Wisdom, are not as visibly Active in the One, as in the Other. For if Christ at leaving the World had said to his Disciples, "Labour to be Rich;Make full Provision for the Flesh;Be conformed to the World;Court the Favour and Interest of great Men. Clothe yourselves with all the worldly Honours, Distinctions, and Powers you can get"; I appeal to every Man, whether Popish and Protestant Churches need do any Thing else, than that which they now do, and have done for Ages, to prove their Faithfulness to such a Master, and their full Obedience to his Precepts. And now, what is all this in Truth and Reality, but the same Whore riding upon the same Beast, not here or there, but through all fallen Christendom, where God has only, in every Age, People, and Language, his seven Thousands, who have not bowed the Knee to Mammon?
[Addr-169] Again, Secondly, "Ye have heard," says our Lord, "that it hath been said by them of Old; thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine Oaths." The Jews practised promissory Oaths, and thought all was well, when there was a Performance of them.But this, with Numbers of other Jewish Practices, was not to be allowed in this Kingdom of God, that was then come into the World.Christ totally rejects, and absolutely forbids it, saying, "I say unto you, swear not at all." But instead of it, he appoints and absolutely demands a most perfect Simplicity of Language, to support and adorn the mutual Communication of those, whom He had created again unto Righteousness, and given Power to become Sons of God saying, "Let your Communication be YEA, YEA, and NAY, NAY, for (N.B.) Whatsoever is more than this, cometh of Evil." What more could have been done by Christ to prevent the Use, or hinder the Entrance of an Oath into his Church? What then shall we say of the present Universal Christendom? For if Christ had commanded the direct contrary, had He said, behold I give you this new Commandment, let not a simple YEA and NAY be of any Avail in all your Communication but let Oaths be required of all that bear my Name, as a Proof that they belong to me, and Act in all their Dealings as become Saints; for whatsoever is less than this, cometh of Evil.Had this been Christ's new Commandment, all the Churches of Christendom, as well Popish as Protestant, and these reformed Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland, might have much to boast of their Obedience to it. For through Town and Country, in all ignorant Villages, in all learned Colleges, in all Courts Spiritual and Temporal, what with Law-Oaths, Corporation-Oaths, Office-Oaths, Trade-Oaths, Qualification-Oaths, Simony-Oaths, Bribery-Oaths, Election-Oaths, &c., &c., &c., there is more Swearing and Forswearing, than all History Reports of any Idol-worshipping Nations. It was said of Old, "Because of Swearing, the Land mourneth"; it is full as true to say now, Because of Swearing, the Land rejoiceth in Iniquity, is full of Profaneness, and without any Fear or Awe of the Divine Majesty, daily swallowing down all Manner of Oaths, in the same good State of Mind, and with as much serious Reflection, as Pot-companions swallow down their Liquor.
[Addr-170] "He that despiseth me," says Christ, "despiseth not me, but him that sent me." Can that Church, which absolutely requires that which Christ has absolutely forbidden, be free from the most open and public Despising of Christ, which in full Contrariety to his express Word, refuses the Sufficiency of that Yea and Nay, which He has commanded to be sufficient; and what is still more wonderful, compels all Orders of Christians to swear by that very Book, which says to all, whether high or low, Prince, Priest, or People, SWEAR NOT AT ALL?
[Addr-171] If the Swearing Law was to order, that instead of kissing the Gospel-Book, the Swearer should say, "In Remembrance of, and in regard to the Words of Christ, forbidding me to swear, I make this Oath," who would not see the open Contempt of Christ and his Gospel? But the Contempt of both is as truly there, when the Gospel-Book is kissed by the Swearer; for the Book has Nothing relating to Oaths, but those Words of Christ, which absolutely forbid the Use of them. Instead, therefore, of a SO HELP ME GOD and his HOLY GOSPEL, it might have been much better, if every Swearing Law through all Christendom had obliged every Swearer to finish his Oath with these Words, Let God and his holy Gospel PARDON ME IN THIS ONE THING.
[Addr-172] If it here be asked, whether I would have all private Christians to beggar themselves, and lose all their Right and Title to House and Land, which by the Laws of Christendom, cannot be preserved without certain promissory Oaths? I say not so. But my Answer is, that as the Jews were of old carried captive into Babylon, so as real a Captivity, and full as great, must happen to all private Christians, born and living under a fallen State of governing Christendom. For whether it be a Pope, or a Nebuchadnezzar, popish, or protestant Church Governors, that make the Goods and Properties of private Christians, only possible to be possessed by Obedience to their swearing Laws, the Captivity is the same. And as God bore with the Want of a Jerusalem-Worship in those Jews, whose Captivity suffered them not to perform it, so it may well be hoped and believed, that he will bear with that Want of Gospel Purity, in the Yea and Nay of private Christians, which their Captivity under a fallen State of Christian Government suffers them not constantly to adhere to. And also, that the Piety of private Christians, loving and longing after Gospel-Purity of Communication, under the Church-Captivity, will be as acceptable to God, as the Piety of captive Jews was, who though living under Heathen Laws, and forced to say their Prayers in Babylon, yet had always their Eyes turned towards, and their Hearts longing after Jerusalem and its holy Worship.
[Addr-173] What I write, is not to show that Christendom's Oaths, and the Manner of them, are not to be submitted to by any private good Christian, but to show in the plainest Manner, that the Laws of Christendom, which make them necessary, are a full Proof that the Spirit which governs all Christendom, is fallen away from the Spirit of Christ. And also to show, that if gross Impiety runs through all the Christian World, if much and much the greatest Part of Swearing Christians have lost all pious Fear of Oaths and Swearing, it is because the Necessity of Swearing meets every Man, in almost every Thing, at the Peril of losing all that he has, or can have, unless he will Swear.
[Addr-174] When the matter of an Oath is a manifest Lie, or an Engagement to do some wicked Thing, all is to be suffered, rather than take it. But where there is nothing false or bad, affirmed or promised, nor any Blame chargeable, but that of going further than our Lord's Yea and Nay, it is plain from Christ's Words, that the Evil is only in That, and There, from whence the Oath comes.
[Addr-175] When a Person swears of his own Accord, or wantonly, then the Oath comes of, or from the Evil of his own Heart. But when a Christian, in whose Heart the Simplicity and Purity of Gospel-Language is written and loved, when he submits to use more than a Yea or Nay, compelled by that Authority which makes the Refusal to be the Loss of Goods, and bodily Imprisonment, then such Departure from Gospel-Language comes of and from the Evil in that Power which required it, whether it be a Pope, a Kirk, a Church, an Assembly of Divines, or a Nebuchadnezzar. All this, I say, is plain from Christ's own Words. "Let your Yea be Yea, and your Nay Nay." But why so? It is because whatsoever is more than this cometh of Evil, that is, is caused by Evil. Therefore the Evil that is in the Use of an imposed Oath, is by the Words of Christ, charged upon and confined to That, which causes or forces it to be done.For that which the Oath comes from, is that which our Saviour calls the Evil of it but the Oath comes from that which causes it, therefore, that which causes Swearing, is by our Saviour's Words charged with all the Evil of the Oath. But (N.B.) all this supposed Freedom from the Evil of an imposed Oath, in the private Christian's Submission to the Use of it, is only then and there, where what is affirmed, or denied by the Oath, has all that Innocence, Truth, or Righteousness in it, which the true Yea or Nay of Christ might justly affirm, or deny.
[Addr-176] But here let it be well observed, that nothing that has here been said, is intended to blame the Piety of those, who on no Account whatsoever will be prevailed upon to take any Kind of Oath, because our Lord and Master has said, "Swear not at all." I am so far from blaming this, or looking upon it, as the Effect of a false or blind Piety, that I wish with all my Heart, it may come to be the Piety of all the three Estates of this Kingdom; and that all swearing, whether in secular or religious Matters, may by all the Authority of the Nation be as utterly condemned, as absolutely renounced, and declared to be as Antichristian, as the Pope's Supremacy.
[Addr-177] In a word, that which calls for, and requires Oaths among Christians, requires That which Christ forbids; but governing Christendom everywhere establishes, requires, and even compels Christians to swear, therefore governing Christendom is fallen from Christ, and acts by and through that Spirit, which being contrary to Christ, is and must be called ANTICHRIST.
[Addr-178] But to proceed now to a third and last Instance, which I shall mention, of the full Power of Antichrist in and through every Part of governing Christendom.
[Addr-179] In the darkest Ages of Romish Superstition, a Martial Spirit of Zeal and Glory for the Gospel, broke forth in Kings, Cardinals, Bishops, Monks, and Friars, to lead the Sheep of Christ, Saints, Pilgrims, Penitents, and Sinners of all Kinds, to proceed in Battle Array, to kill, devour, and drive the Turks from the Land of Palestine, and the old earthly Jerusalem. These Bloodthirsty Expeditions were called an holy War, because it was fighting for the holy Land; they were called also a Croisade, because Crosses and Crucifixes made the greatest Glitter among the sharpened Instruments of human Murder Thus under the Banner of the Cross went forth an Army of Church Wolves, to destroy the Lives of those, whom the Lamb of God died on the Cross to save.
[Addr-180] The Light which broke out at the Reformation, abhorred the bloody superstitious Zeal of these Catholic Heroes. But (N.B.) what followed from this new risen, reforming Light, what came forth instead of these holy Croisades? Why Wars, if possible, still more diabolical. Christian Kingdoms with bloodthirsty Piety, destroying, devouring, and burning one another, for the Sake of That which was called Popery, and That which was called Protestantism.
[Addr-181] Now who can help seeing, that Satan, the Prince of the Powers of Darkness, had here a much greater Triumph over Christendom, than in all the holy Wars and Croisades that went before? For all that was then done, by such high-spirited Fighters for old Jerusalem's Earth, could not be said to be so much done against Gospel-Light, because not one in a Thousand of those holy Warriors were allowed to see what was in the Gospel. But now, with the Gospel opened in everyone's Hands, Papists and Protestants make open War against every Divine Virtue that belonged to Christ, or that can unite them with that Lamb of God, that taketh away the Sins of the World:I say against every Divine, redeeming Virtue of the Lamb of God, for these are the Enemies which Christian War conquers. For there is not a Virtue of Gospel-goodness, but has its Death-blow from it. For no Virtue has any Gospel-goodness in it any further, than as it has its Birth and Growth in and from the Spirit of Christ; where his Nature and Spirit is not, there is nothing but the Heathen to be found, which is but saying the same Truth, as when the Apostle said, that He who hath not, or is not led by the Spirit of Christ, is none of his.
[Addr-182] Now fancy to yourself Christ, the Lamb of God, after his Divine Sermon on the Mount, putting himself at the Head of a blood- thirsty Army, or St. Paul going forth with a Squadron of Fire and Brimstone, to make more Havoc in human Lives than a devouring Earthquake.
[Addr-183] But if this be too blasphemous an Absurdity to be supposed, what follows, but that the Christian who acts in the destroying Fury of War, acts in full Contrariety to the whole Nature and Spirit of Christ, and can no more be said to be led by his Spirit, or be one with Him, than those his Enemies who "came forth with Swords and Staves to take him."
[Addr-184] Blinded Protestants think they have the Glory of slaughtering blind Papists; and the victorious Papist claims the Merit of having conquered the Troops of Heretics: But alas! the Conquest is equally great on both Sides, both are entitled to the same Victory; and the glorious Victory on both Sides, is only that of having Gospel Goodness equally under their Feet.
[Addr-185] When a Most Christian Majesty, with his Catholic Church, sings a Te Deum at the high Altar, for Rivers of Protestant Blood poured out; or an Evangelic Church sings Praise and Glory to the Lamb of God, for helping them from his holy Throne in Heaven, to make popish Towns like to Sodom and Gomorrah, they blaspheme God as much as Cain would have done, had he offered a Sacrifice of Praise to God for helping him to murder his Brother. Let such Worshippers of God be told this, that the Field of Blood gives all its Glory to Satan, who was a Murderer from the Beginning, and will to the End of his Reign be the only Receiver of all the Glory, that can come from it.
[Addr-186] A glorious Alexander in the heathen World is a Shame and Reproach to the human Nature, and does more Mischief to Mankind in a few Years, than all the wild Beasts, in every Wilderness upon Earth, have ever done from the Beginning of the World to this Day. But the same Hero, making the same Ravage from Country to Country with Christian Soldiers, has more Thanks from the Devil, than twenty pagan Alexanders would ever have had. To make Men kill Men, is Meat and Drink to that roaring Adversary of Mankind, who goeth about seeking whom he may devour. But to make Christians kill Christians for the Sake of Christ's Church, is his highest Triumph over the highest Mark, which Christ has set upon those whom he has purchased by his Blood. "This Commandment," says he, "I give unto you, that ye love one another. By this shall all Men know that ye are my Disciples, if ye love one another as I have loved you."
[Addr-187] Can the Duelist, who had rather sheathe his Sword in the Bowels of his Brother, than stifle that which he calls an Affront, can he be said to have this Mark of his belonging to Christ? and may not he that is called his SECOND, more justly be said to be Second to none in the Love of human Murder? Now, what is the Difference between the haughty Duelist with his provided second, meeting his Adversary with Sword and Pistol behind a Hedge, or a House, and two Kingdoms with their high-spirited Regiments slaughtering one another in the Field of Battle? It is the Difference that is between the Murder of one Man, and the Murder of an hundred thousand.
[Addr-188] Now imagine the Duelist fasting and confessing his Sins to God to Day, because he is engaged to fight his Brother To-morrow; fancy again the Conqueror got into his Closet, on his bended Knees, lifting up Hands and Heart to God for blessing his Weapons with the Death of his Brother; and then you have a Picture in Little of the great Piety, that begins and ends the Wars all over heavenly Christendom.
[Addr-189] What Blindness can well be greater, than to think that a Christian Kingdom, as such, can have any other Goodness, or Union with Christ, but that very Goodness, which makes the private Christian to be one with Him, and a Partaker of the Divine Nature? Or that Pride, Wrath, Ambition, Envy, Covetousness, Rapine, Resentment, Revenge, Hatred, Mischief, and Murder, are only the Works of the Devil, whilst they are committed by private or single Men; but when carried on by all the Strength and Authority, all the Hearts, Hands, and Voices of a whole Nation, that the Devil is then quite driven out of them, loses all his Right and Power in them, and they become holy Matter of Church Thanksgivings, and the sacred Oratory of Pulpits.
[Addr-190] Look at that which the private Christian is to do to his Neighbor, or his Enemy, and you see that very Thing, which one Christian Kingdom is to do to another. Look at that which proves a Man to be not led and governed by the Spirit of Christ, and you see that, which proves a Kingdom to be under the Dominion and Power of Satan. Wherever Pride is, there the Devil is riding in his first fiery Chariot; and wherever Wrath is, there he has his first murdering Sword at Work. What is it, that fallen Man wants to be redeemed from, but Pride and Wrath, Envy and Covetousness? He can have no higher Separation or Apostasy from God, no fuller Union with Satan and his Angels, than he has of the Spirit of these Tempers: they constitute that, which whether you call it SELF, or Satan in him, the Meaning is the same. Now suppose Man not fallen into this Self or Satan, and then there could be no more War or fighting in him, than there was in the WORD made Man in our Flesh. Or suppose him redeemed from his fallen Nature, by a new Birth of the Lamb of God born in his Soul, and then he can no more be hired to kill Men gloriously in the Field, than to carry a dark Lanthorn by Night to a Powder-Plot.
[Addr-191] Love, Goodness, and Communication of Good, is the immutable Glory and Perfection of the Divine Nature, and nothing can have Union with God, but that which partakes of this Goodness. The Love that brought forth the Existence of all Things, changes not through the Fall of its Creatures, but is continually at work, to bring back all fallen Nature and Creature to their first State of Goodness. All that passes for a Time between God and his fallen Creature, is but one and the same Thing, working for one and the same End; and though this is called Wrath, that called Punishment, Curse, and Death, it is all from the Beginning to the End, nothing but the Work of the first creating Love, and means nothing else, does nothing else, but those Works of purifying Fire, which must, and alone can burn away all that Dark Evil, which separates the Creature from its first created Union with God. God's Providence, from the Fall to the Restitution of all Things, is doing the same Thing, as when he said to the dark Chaos of fallen Nature, "Let there be light"; He still says, and will continue saying the same Thing, till there is no Evil of Darkness left in all that is Nature and Creature. God creating, God illuminating, God sanctifying, God threatening and punishing, God forgiving and redeeming, is but one and the same essential, immutable, never ceasing Working of the Divine Nature. That in God which illuminates and glorifies Saints and Angels in Heaven, is that very same working of the Divine Nature, which wounds, pains, punishes, and purifies Sinners upon Earth. And (N.B.) every number of destroyed Sinners, whether thrown by Noah's flood, or Sodom's Brimstone, into the terrible Furnace of a Life, insensible of any Thing but new Forms of raging Misery till Judgment's Day, must through the all-working, all-redeeming Love of God, which never ceases, come at last to know that they had lost, and have found again such a God of Love as this.
[Addr-192] And if long and long Ages of fiery Pain, and tormenting Darkness, fall to the Share of many, or most of God's Apostate Creatures, they will last no longer, than till the great fire of God has melted all Arrogance into Humility, and all that is SELF has died in the long Agonies and Bloody Sweat of a lost God, which is that all-saving Cross of Christ, which will never give up its redeeming Power, till Sin and Sinners have no more a Name among the Creatures of God. And if long Ages hereafter can only do that for a Soul, departing this Life under a Load of Sins, which Days and Nights might have done for a most hardened Pharaoh, or a most wicked Nero, whilst in the Body, it is because, whilst the Soul is in the Body, it has only the Nature and State of Fallen Adam, but when Flesh and Blood are taken from it, the strong apostate Nature of fallen Angels is found in it, which must have its State and Place in that Blackness of Darkness of a fiery Wrath, that burns in them and their Kingdom.
[Addr-193] O poor Sinner, whoever thou art, repent and turn to God, whilst thou hast Adam's Flesh upon Thee; for as long as that lasts, the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand; but if thou diest without Adam's Repentance, black Lakes, bottomless Pits, Ages of a gnawing Worm, and Fire that never ceases to burn, will stand between Thee and a Kingdom of Heaven afar off.
[Addr-194] To prevent all this, and make Thee a Child of the first Resurrection, Jesus Christ, God and Man, the only begotten Son of this infinite Love, came into the World in the Name, and under the Character of infinite Pity, boundless Compassion, inexpressible Meekness, bleeding Love, nameless Humility, never ending Patience, long suffering, and Bowels of redeeming Mercy, called the Lamb of God, who with all these supernatural Virtues taketh away the Sins of the World.
[Addr-195] Now from this View of God's infinite Love and Mercy in Christ Jesus, willing nothing, seeking nothing through all the Regions of his Providence, but that Sinners of all Kinds, the boldest Rebels against all his Goodness, may have their proper Remedy, their necessary Means of being full delivered from all that Hurt, Mischief, and Destruction, which in full Opposition to their God and Creator, they had brought upon themselves; from this View, I say, of God and Christ, using every Miracle of Love and Wisdom to give recovery of Life, Health and Salvation to all that have rebelled against them, look at the murdering Monster of WAR. And what can its Name, or Nature be, but a fiery great Dragon, a full Figure of Satan broke loose, and fighting against every redeeming Virtue of the Lamb of God?
[Addr-196] The temporal Miseries and Wrongs which War carries along with it, wherever it goes, are neither to be numbered or expressed. What Thievery bears any Proportion to that, which with the boldness of Drum and Trumpet plunders the innocent of all that they have? And if themselves are left alive with all their Limbs, or their Daughters unravished, they have many Times only the Ashes of their consumed Houses to lie down upon. What Honour has War not gotten from its Tens and Tens of Hundreds or Thousands of Men Slaughtered on Heaps, with as little Regret or Concern, as at Loads of Rubbish thrown into a Pit? Who, but the fiery Dragon, would put Wreaths of Laurel on such Heroes' Heads? Who but He could say unto them, "Well done, good and faithful Servants"?
[Addr-197] But there is still an Evil of War much greater, though less regarded. Who reflects, how many Hundreds of Thousands, nay Millions of young Men, born into this World for no other End, but that they may be Born again of Christ, and from Sons of Adam's Misery become Sons of God, and fellow Heirs with Christ in everlasting Glory; who reflects, I say, what nameless Numbers of these are robbed of God's precious Gift of Life to them, before they have known the one sole Benefit of Living; who are not suffered to stay in this World, till Age and Experience have done their best for them, have helped them to know the inward Voice and Operation of God's Spirit, helped them to find, and feel that evil, Curse, and Sting of Sin and Death, which must be taken from within them, before they can die the Death of the Righteous; but instead of all this, have been either violently forced, or tempted in the Fire of Youth, and full strength of sinful Lusts, to forget God, Eternity, and their own Souls, and rush into a kill or be killed, with as much furious haste, and goodness of Spirit, as Tiger kills Tiger for the sake of his Prey?
[Addr-198] That God's Providence over his fallen Creatures is nothing else but a Providence of Love and Salvation, turning through Ways of infinite Wisdom, sooner or later, all kinds of Evil into a new Good, making that which was lost to be found, that which was dead to be alive again; not willing that one single Sinner should want That which can save him from eternal Death, is a Truth as certain, as that God's Name is, I AM that I AM.
[Addr-199] Among unfallen Creatures in Heaven, God's Name and Nature is LOVE, LIGHT, and GLORY.To the fallen Sons of Adam, that which was Love, Light, and Glory in Heaven, becomes infinite PITY and COMPASSION on Earth, in a God clothed with the Nature of his fallen Creature, bearing all its Infirmities, entering into all its Troubles, and in the meek Innocence of a Lamb of God living a Life, and dying a Death, of all the Sufferings due to Sin. Hence it was, that when this DIVINE PITY suffered its own life-giving Blood to be poured on the Ground, all outward Nature made full Declaration of its atoning and redeeming Power; the Strength of the Earth did Quake, the Hardness of Rocks was forced to Split and long-covered Graves to give up their Dead. A certain Passage, that all that came by the Curse into Nature and Creature must give up its Power; that all Kinds of hellish Wrath, hardened Malice, fiery Pride, selfish Wills, tormenting Envy, and earthly Passions, which kept Men under the Power of Satan, must have their Fullness of Death, and Fullness of a new Life, from that all-powerful, all-purifying Blood of the Lamb, which will never cease washing RED into WHITE, till the Earth is washed into the Crystal Purity of that Glassy Sea, which is before the Throne of God, and all the Sons of Adam clothed in such White, as fits them for their several Mansions in their Heavenly Father's House.
[Addr-200] Sing, O ye Heavens, and shout all ye lower Parts of the Earth, this is OUR GOD that varies not, whose first creating Love knows no Change, but into a redeeming Pity towards all his fallen Creatures.
[Addr-201] Look now at Warring Christendom, what smallest Drop of Pity towards Sinners is to be found in it? Or how could a Spirit all Hellish, more fully contrive and hasten their Destruction? It stirs up and kindles every Passion of fallen Nature that is contrary to the all-humble, all-meek, all-loving, all-forgiving, all-saving Spirit of Christ. It unites, it drives, and compels nameless Numbers of unconverted Sinners to fall, Murdering and Murdered among Flashes of Fire, with the Wrath and Swiftness of Lightning, into a Fire infinitely worse than that in which they Died. O sad Subject for Thanksgiving Days, whether in Popish or Protestant Churches! For if there is a Joy of all the Angels in Heaven for one Sinner that repents, what a Joy must there be in Hell over such Multitudes of Sinners, not suffered to repent? And if they who have "converted many to Righteousness, shall Shine as the Stars in the Firmament for ever," what Chorazin's Woe may they not justly fear, whose proud Wrath and vain Glory have robbed such numberless Troops of poor Wretches, of all Time and Place of knowing what Righteousness they wanted, for the Salvation of their immortal Souls.
[Addr-202] Here my Pen trembles in my Hand; but when, O when will one single Christian Church, People, or Language, tremble at the Share they have in this Death of Sinners!
[Addr-203] For the GLORY OF HIS MAJESTY'S ARMS, said once a Most Christian King: Now if at that Time, his Catholic Church had called a solemn Assembly to unite Hearts and Voices in this pious Prayer, "O blessed Jesus, dear redeeming Lamb of God, who camest down from Heaven, to save Men's Lives, and not destroy them, go along, we humbly pray Thee, with our Bomb-Vessels and Fire-Ships, suffer not our thundering Cannon to roar in Vain, but let thy tender Hand of Love and Mercy direct their Balls to more Heads and Hearts of thine own redeemed Creatures, than the poor Skill of Man is able of itself to do": Had not such Prayers had more of the Man of the Earth, more of the Son of Perdition in them, than the Most Christian King's glorying in his Arms?
[Addr-204] Again, would you further see the Fall of the Universal Church, from being led by the Spirit of Christ, to be guided by the Inspiration of the great fiery Dragon, look at all European Christendom sailing round the Globe with Fire and Sword, and every murdering Art of War, to seize the Possessions, and kill the Inhabitants of both the Indies. What natural Right of Man, what supernatural Virtue which Christ brought down from Heaven, was not here trodden under Foot? All that you ever read or heard of Heathen Barbarity, was here outdone by Christian Conquerors. And to this Day, what Wars of Christians against Christians, blended with Scalping Heathens, still keep staining the Earth and the Seas with human Blood, for a miserable Share in the Spoils of a plundered Heathen World! A World, which should have heard, or seen, or felt nothing from the Followers of Christ, but a Divine Love, that had forced them from distant Lands, and through the Perils of long Seas, to visit Strangers with those glad Tidings of Peace and Salvation to all the World, which Angels from Heaven, and Shepherds on Earth, proclaimed at the Birth of Christ.
[Addr-205] Here now, let the Wisdom of this World be as Wise as ever it will, and from its learned Throne condemn all this as Enthusiasm; it need be no Trouble to anyone, to be condemned by that Wisdom, which God himself has condemned as Foolishness with Him. For the Wisdom of this World has all the Contrariety to Salvation-Wisdom, that the Flesh has to the Spirit, Earth to Heaven, or Damnation to Salvation. It is a Wisdom, whose Spirit and Breath keep all the Evil that is in fallen Man alive, and which in its highest Excellence has only the full grown Nature of that carnal Mind, which is Enmity against God. It is a Wisdom that is Sensual, and Devilish, that hinders Man from knowing, and dying all those Deaths, without which there can be no new Life. It is a Wisdom that turns all Salvation-Truths into empty, learned Tales, that instead of helping the Sinner to confess his Sins, and feel the Misery that is hid under them, helps him to an Art of hiding, nay of defending them. For that which the Lusts and Passions do contrary to the Wisdom from above, is proved to be right Reason by this Wisdom from below, whose greatest Skill is shown, in keeping all the Powers and Passions of the Natural Man in Peace and Prosperity; and so the poor blinded Sinner lives and dies in a total Ignorance of all that Light, Blessing, and Salvation, which could only be had by a broken and contrite Heart. For (N.B.) with Respect to Conscience, this is the chief Office of Worldly Wisdom; it is to keep all Things quiet in the Old Man, that whether busied in Things spiritual, or temporal, he may keep up the Lusts of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life, without any Disturbance from Religious Phantoms, and Dreams of mystic Idiots, who for want of sober Sense and sound Learning, think that Christ really meant what he said in these words, "Except a Man be born again of the Spirit, or from above, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." For this Wisdom, come to its highest perfection, is a Classic Moral Painter, which though it cannot alter the Nature, yet can change the Colours of every Thing; it can give to the most heavenly Virtue such an outward Form and Color, as will force the Stoutest of aged and learned Men to run away from it; and to a Vice of the greatest Deformity it can pencil such charming Features, as will make every Child of this World, wish to live and die with it. Its next Perfection is that of a flattering Orator, who has Praise and Dispraise at his own free Disposal; for as they are all of his own making, so he can dispose them on whom, and on what he will; not only as outward interesting Occasions call for them, but also as the inward Necessities, the Ups and Downs of his own poor Self want them. For Self, however willing to be always strong, has its weak Hours, and would be ever tottering, unless this Elbow-Orator kept him every Day (though perhaps not every Night) free from the disturbing Whispers of a Seed of God in his Soul. Now join (if you please) Learning and Religion to act in fellowship with this worldly Wisdom, and make their best of it, and then you will have a Depravity of Craft and Subtlety as high as Flesh and Blood can carry it, which will bring forth a glittering Pharisee, with a hardness of Heart, greater than that of the Sinner Publican.
[Addr-206] "Demas," says St. Paul, "hath forsaken me, having loved this present World." Here you see all the Good and Blessing that is inseparable from the Wisdom of this World, it always does the same Thing, and has the same Effect wherever it is; it will do to high and low, learned or unlearned, Clergy or Laity, that same unavoidably which it did to Demas; it will make them forsake Christ, turn their Backs on every Grace and Virtue of his Holy Spirit, as certainly as the Love of the World made Demas to forsake Paul.
[Addr-207] This Wisdom has asked me, how it is possible for Christian Kingdoms in the Neighbourhood of one another to preserve themselves, unless the Strength and Weapons of War are everyone's Defense, against such Invasions, Encroachments, and Robberies, as would otherwise be the fate of Christian Kingdoms from one another.
[Addr-208] This Question is so far from needing to be answered by me, that it is wholly on my Side; it confesses all, and proves all that I have said of the fallen State of Christendom, to be strictly true. For if this is the governing Spirit of Christian Kingdoms, that no one of them can subsist in Safety from its neighbouring Christian Kingdoms, but by its Weapons of War, are not all Christian Kingdoms equally in the same unchristian State, as two neighbouring bloody Knaves, who cannot be safe from one another, but as each other's murdering Arms preserve and protect them? This Plea therefore for Christendom's Wars, proves nothing else but the want of Christianity all over the Christian World, and stands upon no better a Foundation of Righteousness and Goodness, than when one Murdering Knave kills another that would have killed him.
[Addr-209] But to know whether Christianity wants, or admits of War, Christianity is to be considered as in its right State. Now the true State of the World turned Christian, is thus described by the great Gospel-Prophet, who showed what a Change it was to make in the fallen State of the World. "It shall come to pass," says he, "in the last Days," that is, in the Days of Christendom, "that the Mountain of the Lord's House" (his Christian Kingdom) "shall be established in the Top of the Mountains, and all Nations shall flow into it; and many People shall say, Let us go up to the Mountain of the Lord's House, and he will teach us of his Ways, and we will walk in his Paths," Isaiah ii.2.
[Addr-210] Now what follows from this going up of the Nations to the Mountain of the Lord's House, from his teaching them of his Ways, and their walking in his Paths? The holy Prophet expressly tells you in his following Words, "They shall beat their Swords into Plough-Shares, and their Spears into pruning Hooks: Nation shall not lift up its Sword against Nation, (N.B.) neither shall they learn War any more." This is the Prophet's true Christendom, with one and the same essential Divine Mark set upon it, as when the Lamb of God said, "By this shall all Men know that ye are my Disciples, if ye Love one another as I have loved you." Christ's kingdom of God is nowhere come, but where the Works of the Devil are destroyed, and Men are turned from the Power of Satan unto God. God is only another Name for the highest and only Good; and the highest and only Good means nothing else but LOVE with all its WORKS.Satan is only another Name for the Whole and all of Evil, and the whole of Evil is nothing else but its whole Contrariety to Love. And the Sum Total of all Contrariety to Love is contained in Pride, Wrath, Strife, Self, Envy, Hatred, Revenge, Mischief, and Murder. Look at these with all their Fruits that belong to them, and then you see all the princely Power that Satan is, and has in this fallen World.
[Addr-211] Would you see when and where the Kingdoms of this fallen World are become a Kingdom of God, the Gospel Prophet tells you, that it is then and there where all Enmity ceases. "The Wolf," says he, "shall dwell with the Lamb, and the Leopard shall lie down with the Kid. The Calf and the young Lion and the Fatling together, and a little Child shall lead them. The Cow and the Bear shall feed, and their young ones shall lie down together, and the Lion shall eat Straw like the Ox. The suckling Child shall play on the Hole of the Asp, and the weaned Child shall put his Hand on the Cockatrice's Den." For, (N.B.) "they shall not HURT or DESTROY in all my holy Mountain," that is, through all holy Christendom. Isaiah xi.6.
[Addr-212] See here a Kingdom of God on the Earth; it is nothing else but a Kingdom of mere Love, where all HURT and DESTROYING is done away, and every Work of Enmity changed into one united Power of heavenly Love But observe again and again, whence this comes to pass, that God's Kingdom on Earth is, and can be nothing else, but the Power of reigning Love; the Prophet tells you, it is because in the Day of his Kingdom, "the Earth shall be full of the Knowledge of the Lord, as the Waters cover the Sea." Therefore, O Christendom, thy Wars are thy certain Proofs, that thou art all over as full of an Ignorance of God, as the Waters cover the Sea.
[Addr-213] As to the present fallen State of universal Christendom, working under the Spirit and Power of the great fiery Dragon, it is not my Intention, in any Thing I am here upon, to show how any Part of it can subsist, or preserve itself from being devoured by every other Part, but by its own Dragon Weapons.
[Addr-214] But the Christendom which I mean, that neither wants, nor allows War, is only that where Christ is King, and his Holy Spirit the only Governor of the Wills, Affections, and Designs of all that belong to it. It is my Complaint against, and Charge upon all the Nations of Christendom, that this Necessity of murdering Arms is the Dragon's Monster, that is equally brought forth by all and every Part of fallen Christendom; and that therefore all and every Part, as well Popish as Protestant, are at one and the same Distance from the Spirit of their Lord and Saviour the Lamb of God, and therefore all want one and the same entire Reformation.
[Addr-215] In these last Ages of fallen Christendom, many Reformations have taken Place; but alas! Truth must be forced to say, that they have been in all their Variety, little better than so many run-away Births of one and the same Mother, so many lesser Babels come out of Babylon the great. For among all the Reformers, the one only true Reformation has never yet been thought of. A Change of Place, of Governors, of Opinions, together with new formed outward Models, is all the Reformation that has yet been attempted.
[Addr-216] The Wisdom of this World, with its worldly Spirit, was the only Thing that had overcome the Church, and had carried it into Captivity. For in Captivity it certainly is, as soon as it is turned into a Kingdom of this World; and a Kingdom of this World it certainly is, as soon as worldly Wisdom has its Power in it. Not a false Doctrine, not a bad Discipline, not an usurped Power, or corrupt Practice ever has prevailed, or does prevail in the Church, but has had its whole Birth and Growth from worldly Wisdom.
[Addr-217] This Wisdom was the great evil Root, at which the reforming Axe should have been laid, and must be laid, before the Church can be again that Virgin Spouse of Christ, which it was at the Beginning "If any Man," says St. Paul, "will be wise, let him become a Fool in this World." This admits of no Exception, it is a Maxim as universal and unalterable, as that which says, "If any Man will follow Christ, let him deny himself." For no Man has any more to deny than that, which the Wisdom and Spirit of this World are, and do in him. For all that is in this World, the Lusts of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eye, and the Pride of Life, are the very Things in which alone the Wisdom of this World lives, and moves, and has its being. It can be no other, can rise no higher, nor be any better, than they are and do. For as heavenly Wisdom is the Whole of all heavenly Goodness, so earthly Wisdom has the whole Evil of all the earthly Nature.
[Addr-218] St. Paul speaks of a natural Man, that cannot know the Things of God, but to whom they are mere Foolishness. This natural Man is only another Name for the Wisdom of this World; but though he cannot know the Things that be of God, yet he can know their Names, and learn to speak that which the Saints of God have spoken about them. He can make Profession of them, be eloquent in their Praise, and set them forth in such a desirable View, as shall make them quite agreeable to the Children of worldly Wisdom. This is the natural Man, who having got into the Church, and Church Power, has turned the Things of God into Things of this World. Had this Man been kept out of the Church, the Church had kept its first Purity to this Day; for its fallen State is nothing else but its Fall into the Hands of the natural Man of this World. And when this is the State of the Church, the Wisdom of this World (which always loves its own) will be in Love with it, will spare no Cost to maintain it, will make Laws, fight Battles in Defence of it, and condemn every Man as Heretical, who dares speak a Word against this Glorious Image of a Church, which the Wisdom of this World has set up.
[Addr-219] This is the great Antichrist, which is neither better nor worse, nor any Thing else, but the Spirit of Satan working against Christ, in the Strength and Subtlety of earthly Wisdom.
[Addr-220] If therefore you take any Thing to be Church-Reformation, but a full Departure from the Wisdom of this World, or any Thing to be your Entrance into a Salvation-Church, but the Nature, Spirit, and Works of Christ, become living in you, then, whether Papist or Protestant, Reformation or no Reformation, all will be just as much Good to you, as when a Sadducee turns Publican, or from a Publican becomes a Pharisee.For the Church of Christ, as it is the Door of Salvation, is nothing else but Christ himself. Christ in us, or we in his Church, is the same Thing. When that is alive, Wills, and Works in you, which was alive in Christ, then you are in his Church; for that which he was, that must they be who are his. Without this, it matters not what Pale you are in. To every Thing but the new Creature, Christ says, "I know you not"; and to every virtue that worldly Wisdom puts on, "Get thee behind me, Satan, for thou savourest not the Things that be of God." And the Reason why it must be thus, why Worldly Wisdom, though under a religious Form, is and can be nothing else, but that which is called Satan, or Antichrist, is because all that we are, and have from this World, is that very enmity against God, that whole Evil which separates us from him, and constitutes all that Death and Damnation that belongs to our fallen State. And so sure as the Life of this World is our Separation from God, so sure is it, that a total Departure from every Subtlety and Prosperity of worldly Wisdom, is absolutely necessary to change an evil Son of Adam into a holy Son of God. And here it is well to be observed, that the Church of Christ is solely for this End, to make us Holy as he is Holy. But nothing can do this, but that which has full Power to change a Sinner into a Saint. And he who has not found that Power in the Church, may be assured that he is not yet a true Son of that Church. For the Church brings forth no other Births, but holy Children of God; it has no other End, no other Nature or Work, but that of changing a Sinner into a Saint. But this can only be done, just as the change of Night into Day is done, or as the Darkness is quite lost in the Light. Something as contrary to the whole Nature of Sin, as Light is to Darkness, and as powerful over it, as the Light is powerful over Darkness, can alone do this. Creeds, Canons, Articles of Religion, stately Churches, learned Priests, Singing, Preaching, and Praying in the best contrived Form of Words, can no more raise a dead Sinner into a living Saint, than a fine System of Light and Colours can change the Night into Day. For, (N.B.) That which cannot help you to all Goodness, cannot help you to any Goodness, nor can that take away any Sin but that which can take away all Sin.
[Addr-221] On this Ground it is, that the Apostle said, "Circumcision is nothing, and Uncircumcision is nothing"; and on the same Ground it must be said, that Popery is nothing, and Protestantism is nothing, because all is nothing, as to Salvation, but a Sinner changed into a Saint, or the Apostle's new Creature. Call nothing therefore your Holy, Salvation-Church, but that which takes away all your Sins; this is the only Way not to be deceived with the Cry about Churches, Reformations, and Divisions. If it be asked, What is meant by taking away all our Sins? The Whole is fully told us in these Words, "To as many as believed, to them He gave Power to become Sons of God." This is the true taking away, or Forgiveness of Sins; not a strong Imagination, or Brain-Fancy, that on such an Hour, on such a Day, or in such a Place, you felt and knew assuredly that all your Sins were forgiven you: by such a Forgiveness of Sins, That which made you a Sinner is not destroyed, but you will have every Day the same Necessity of confessing yourself a miserable Sinner, as you had that Morning, when your Sins were not forgiven you till the Afternoon. The true Forgiveness of Sins is only then, when That which Sinned in us is done away, or become Powerless in us; but nothing can do this, but That Power by which we became Sons of God. A blind Man has then only a Deliverance from his Blindness, when he is put in full Possession of seeing Eyes; this is the only doing away of his Darkness. Just so, and no otherwise, are our Sins forgiven us, or done away, when the Power by which we become Sons of God, or the New Creature, is so given to us, so possessed by us, as seeing Eyes are given to and possessed by the Man, who before that was all Blindness.And as our Old Man can only then be said to be truly put off, when the New Man in Christ is raised to Life in his Stead, so our Sins are only then truly blotted out, or done away, when an unsinning Nature, or a Birth of God that Sinneth not, is come to be the ruling Life in us.
[Addr-222] Many are the Marks, which the learned have given us of the true Church; but be that as it will, no Man, whether Learned or Unlearned, can have any Mark or Proof of his own true Church-Membership, but his being dead unto all Sin, and alive unto all Righteousness. This cannot be more plainly told us, than in these Words of our Lord, "He that committeth Sin, is the Servant of Sin"; but surely that Servant of Sin, cannot at the same Time be a living Member of Christ's body, or that new Creature, who dwells in Christ, and Christ in him. To suppose a Man born again from above, yet under a necessity of continuing to Sin, is as absurd as to suppose, that the true Christian is only to have so much of the Nature of Christ born in him, as is consistent with as real a Power of Satan still dwelling in him. "If the Son," says Christ, "shall make you free, then ye shall be free indeed." What is this, but saying, if Christ be come to Life in you, then a true Freedom from all Necessity of Sinning is given to you. Now if this is hindered, and cannot come to pass in the faithful Follower of Christ, it must be, because both the Willing and Working of Christ in Man is too weak to overcome that, which the Devil wills and works in him. All this Absurdity, and even Blasphemy, is necessarily implied in that common Doctrine of Books and Pulpits, which teaches, that the Christian can never have done Sinning as long as he lives. Well therefore may Christendom Sleep as securely as it does, under the Power of Sin, without any Thought, Hope, or Desire of doing God's Will on Earth, as it is done in Heaven; without any concern at their not being Pure, as he who has called them is Pure, or Walking as he Walked.
[Addr-223] The scripture knows no Christians but Saints, who in all Things Act as becometh Saints. But now if the Scripture Saint did not mean a Man that escheweth all Evil, and was Holy in all his Conversation, Saint and no Saint would have only such Difference, as one carnal Man will always have from another. Preachers and Writers comfort the half Christians with telling them, that God requires not a perfect, sinless Obedience, but accepts the Sincerity of our weak Endeavors instead of it. Here, if ever, the Blind lead the Blind. For St. Paul, comparing the Way of Salvation to a Race, says, "In a Race all run, but ONE obtaineth the Prize: so run that ye may obtain." Now if Paul had seeing Eyes, must not they be Blind who teach, that God accepts of all that run in the religious Race, and requires not that any should obtain the Prize. How easy was it to see, that the Sincerity of our weak Endeavors was quite a different Thing from that, which alone is, and can be the required Perfection of our Lives. The first God accepts, that is, bears with. But why or how? Not because he seeks or requires no more, but he bears with them, because though at a great Distance from, they are, or may be making towards that Perfection, or new Creature, which he absolutely requires, which is the Fullness of the Stature of Christ, and is that which Paul says, is the ONE that obtains the Prize.
[Addr-224] The same which Paul says, is said by Christ in other Words, "Strive," says he, "to enter in at the strait Gate." Here our best Endeavors are called for, and therefore accepted by God, and yet at the same Time he adds, "that many shall strive to enter in, but shall not be able." Why so, whence comes this? It is because Christ himself is the one Door into Life. Here the Strivers mentioned by Christ, and those which St. Paul calls Runners in a Race, are the very same Persons; and Christ calling himself the one Door of Entrance, is the same Thing as when Paul says, that one only receives the Prize, and that one, which alone obtains the Prize, or that enters through the right Door, is that new Creature in whom Christ is truly Born. For whether you consider Things Natural or Supernatural, Nothing but Christ in us, can be our Hope of Glory.
[Addr-225] The Pleader for Imperfection further supports himself by saying, No Man in the World, Christ excepted, was ever without Sin. And so say I too; and with the Apostle I also add, "That if we say we have not Sinned, we make him a Liar." But then it is as true to say, that we make him a Liar, if we deny the Possibility of our ever being freed from a Necessity of Sinning. For the same Word of God says, "If we confess our Sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our Sins, and (N.B.) to cleanse us from all Unrighteousness."
[Addr-226] But surely he that is left under a Necessity of Sinning as long as he lives, can no more be said to be cleansed from all Unrighteousness, than a Man who must be a Cripple to his dying Day, can be said to be cured of all his Lameness. What weaker Conclusion can well be made, than to infer, that because Christ was the only Man that was born and lived free from Sin, therefore no Man on Earth can be raised to a Freedom from Sinning; no better than concluding, that because the Old Man is everyone's Birth from Adam, therefore there can be no such Thing as a New Man, created unto Righteousness, through Christ Jesus, living and being all in all in him; no better Sense or Logic, than to say, that because our Redeemer could not find us any Thing else but Sinners, therefore he must of all Necessity leave us to be Sinners.
[Addr-227] Of Christ it only can be said, that he is in himself the true Vine; but of every Branch that is his, and grows in him, it must be as truly said, that the Life and Spirit of the true Vine, is the Life and Spirit of its Branches, and that as is the Vine, so are its Branches.And here let it be well noted, that if the Branch has not the Life and Goodness of the Vine in it, it can only be, because it is broken off from the Vine, and therefore a withered Branch, fit for the Fire. But if the Branches abide in the Vine, then Christ says this glorious Thing of them, "Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you," John xv.7. The very same glorious Thing, which he had before said of himself, "Father, I thank Thee, that Thou hast heard me," and (N.B.) "I knew that thou hearest me always," John xi.41. Now say that this new Creature, who is in such Union, Communion, and Power with God, because Christ is in him, and he in Christ, as really as the Vine is in the Branches, and the Branches in the Vine, say that he must be a Servant of Sin, as long as he lives in this World, and then your Absurdity will be as great, as if you had said, that Christ in us must partake of our Corruption.
[Addr-228] The sober Divine, who abhors the Pride of Enthusiasts, for the Sake of Humility, says of himself and all Men, We are poor, blind, imperfect Creatures; all our natural Faculties are perverted, corrupted, and out of their right State; and therefore nothing that is perfect can come from us, or be done by us. Truth enough! And the very same Truth, as when the apostle says, "The natural Man knoweth not the Things that be of God, He cannot know them, they are foolishness to him." This is the Man that we all are by Nature. But what Scripture ever spoke of, or required any perfect Works from this Man, any more than it requires the Ethiopian to change his Skin? Or what an instructed Divine must he be, who considers this old natural Man as the Christian, and therefore rejects Christian Perfection, because this Old Man cannot attain to it? What greater Blindness, than to appeal to our fallen State, as a Proof of a Weakness and Corruption which we must have, when we are redeemed from it? Is this any wiser, than saying, that Sin and Corruption must be there where Christ is, because it is there where he is not?
[Addr-229] Our Lord has said this absolute Truth, That unless we be born again from above, there is no possible Entrance into the Kingdom of God.What this new Birth is in us, and what we get by it, is as expressly told us by his beloved Apostle, saying, "That which is born of God Sinneth not." This is as true and unalterable, as to say, that which is born of the Devil can do nothing else but add Sin to Sin. To what End do we pray, that "this Day we may fall into no Sin," if no such Day can be had? But if Sinning can be made to cease in us for one Day, what can do this for us, but that which can do the same To-morrow? What Benefit in Praying, that "God's Will may be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven," if the Earth as long as it lasts must have as many Sinners, as it has Men upon it? How vainly does the Church pray for the Baptized Person, "that he may have Power and Strength to have Victory, and to triumph against the Devil, the World, and the Flesh," if this victorious Triumph can never be obtained; if notwithstanding this Baptism and Prayer, he must continue committing Sin, and so be a Servant of Sin, as long as he lives? What Sense can there be in making a Communion of Saints to be an Article of our Creed, if at that same time we are to believe that Christians, as long as they live, must in some Degree or other follow, and be led by the Lusts of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life?
[Addr-230] Whence now comes all this Folly of Doctrines? It is because the Church is no longer that Spiritual House of God, in which nothing is intended and sought after, but Spiritual Power and Spiritual Life, that is become a mere human Building, made up of worldly Power, worldly Learning, and worldly Prosperity in Gospel Matters. And therefore all the Frailties, Follies, and Imperfections of human Nature, must have as much Life in the Church, as in any other human Society. And the best Sons of such a Church, must be forced to plead such Imperfections in the Members of it, as must be where the old fallen human Nature is still alive. And alive it there must be, and its Life defended, where the being continually moved, and led by the Spirit of God, is rejected as gross Enthusiasm. For nothing but a full Birth, and continual Breathing and Inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the new born Creature, can be a Deliverance from all that which is Earthly, Sensual, and Devilish in our fallen Nature. This New Creature, born again in Christ, of that ETERNAL WORD which created all Things in Heaven and on Earth, is both the Rock and Church, of which Christ says, "The Gates of Hell shall never prevail against it." For prevail they will, and must against every Thing, but the New Creature. And every fallen Man, be he where he will, or who he will, is yet in his fallen State, and his whole Life is a mere Egyptian Bondage, and Babylonian Captivity, till the heavenly Church, or the new Birth from above, has taken him out of it.
[Addr-231] See how St. Paul sets forth the Salvation-Church, as being nothing else, and doing nothing else, but merely as the Mother of this new Birth. "Know ye not," says he, "that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his Death? Therefore we are buried with him by Baptism into Death, that like as Christ was raised from the Dead by the Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in Newness of Life." Here we have the one true Church, infallibly described, and yet no other Church, but the New Creature. He goes on, "For if we have been planted together in the Likeness of his Death, we shall also be in the Likeness of his Resurrection." Therefore to be in Christ, or in his Church, belongs to no one, but because the Old Man is put off, and the New Creature risen in Christ, is put on. The same thing is said again in these Words, "Knowing this, that our Old Man is crucified with Him, that the Body of Sin might be destroyed, That (N.B.) HENCEFORTH we should not serve Sin"; therefore the true Church is nowhere but in the New Creature, that henceforth Sinneth not, nor is any longer a Servant to Sin. Away then with all the tedious Volumes of Church Unity, Church Power, and Church Salvation. Ask neither a Council of Trent, nor a Synod of Dort, nor an Assembly of Divines, for a Definition of the Church. The Apostle has given you, not a Definition, but the unchangeable Nature of it in these Words. But now "being made free from Sin, and become Servants of God, ye have your Fruits unto Holiness, and the End everlasting Life." Therefore to be in the true Salvation-Church, and to be in Christ that new Creature which Sinneth not, is strictly the same Thing.
[Addr-232] What now is become of this true Church, or where must the Man go, who would fain be a living Member of it? He need go nowhere; because wherever he is, That which is to save him, and That which he is to be saved from, is always with him. SELF is all the Evil that he has, and God is all the Goodness that he ever can have; But Self is always with him, and God is always with him. Death to Self is his only Entrance into the Church of Life, and Nothing but God can give Death to Self. Self is an inward Life, and God is an inward Spirit of Life; therefore nothing kills That which must be killed in us, or quickens That which must come to Life in us, but the inward Work of God in the Soul, and the inward Work of the Soul in God. This is that Mystic Religion, which, though it has nothing in it but that same Spirit, that same Truth, and that same Life, which always was, and always must be the Religion of all God's holy Angels and Saints in Heaven, is by the Wisdom of this World accounted to be Madness. As wisely done, as to reckon him mad, who says, that the Vanity of Things Temporal cannot be, or give Life to the Things that are Eternal; or that the Circumcision of the Flesh is but as poor a Thing, as the Whetting the Knife, in Comparison of that inward mystic Circumcision of the Heart, which can only be done by "that WORD of God, which is Sharper than any two edged Sword, and pierces to the dividing asunder of the Soul and Spirit," Heb. iv.1. Now fancy to yourself a Rabbi-Doctor, laughing at this Circumcision of the two edged Sword of God, as Gospel Madness, and then you see that very same Christian Orthodoxy, which at this Day condemns the inward working Life of God in the Soul, as Mystic Madness.
[Addr-233] Look at all that is outward, and all that you then see, has no more of Salvation in it, than the Stars and Elements. Look at all the good Works you can think of, they have no Goodness for you, but when the good Spirit of God is the Doer of them in you. For all the outward Works of Religion may be done by the natural Man, he can observe all Church-Duties, Stick close to Doctrines, and put on the Semblance of every outward Virtue; thus high he can go. But no Christian, till led and governed by the Spirit of God, can go any higher than this feigned, outward Formality of this natural Man; to which he can add nothing, but his own natural fleshly Zeal in the Defense of it. For all Zeal must be of this Kind, till it is the Zeal of That which is born of God, and calls every Creature only to that same new Birth from above. "My little children," says St. Paul, "of whom I travail again in Birth, till Christ be formed in you." This is the whole labour of an Apostle to the End of the World. He has nothing to preach to Sinners, but the Absolute Necessity, the true Way, and the certain Means, of being Born again from above. But if dropping this one Thing only necessary and only available, he becomes a disputing Reformer about Words and Opinions, and helps Christians to be zealously separated from one another, for the Sake of being saved by different Notions of Faith, Works, Justification, or Election, &c., he has forgot his Errand, and is become a blind Leader of all, who are blind enough to follow him. For all that is called Faith, Works, Justification, Sanctification, or Election are only so many different Expressions of That which the restored Divine Life is, and does in us, and have no Existence anywhere, or in any Thing, but the New Creature. And the Reason why every Thing that is, or can be Good in us, or to us, is nothing else but this Divine Birth from above, is because the Divine Nature dead in Adam, was his entire Loss of every Divine Virtue, and his whole Fall under the Power of this World, the Flesh, and the Devil; and therefore the Divine Nature brought again to Life in Man, is his Faith, his Hope, his Prayer, his Works, his Justification, Sanctification, Election, or Salvation. And that ELECTION, which systematical Doctors have taken out of its Place, and built it into an absolute irreversible Decree of God, has no other Nature, no other Effect, or Power of Salvation, but that which equally belongs to our Faith, Hope, Prayer, Love of God, and Love of our Neighbour; and just so far as these Divine Virtues are in us, just so far are we the Elect of God, which means nothing else but the beloved of God; and nothing makes us the beloved of God, but his own first Image and Likeness rising up again in us. Would you plainly know what is meant by being elected of God, the same is plainly meant, as when the Scripture says, "God heareth those only who call upon him"; or that he can only be "found by those who seek him"; so he only elects Those and That which elect him. Again, "He that honoureth me, him will I honour," says God: "He that loveth me," says Christ, "shall be beloved of me and my Father." This is the Mystery of Election (N.B.) as it relates to Salvation. At divers Times and in sundry Manners, God may have, and has had his chosen Vessels for particular Offices, Messages, and Appointments; but as to Salvation from our fallen State, every son of Adam is his chosen Vessel, and this as certainly, as that every Son of Adam has the Seed of the Woman, the incorruptible Seed of the WORD born along with him; and this is God's unchangeable universal Election, which chooses, or wills the Salvation of all Men. For the Ground of all Union, Communion, or Love between God and the Creature, lies wholly in the Divine Nature. That which is Divine in Man tends towards God, elects God; and God only and solely elects his own Birth, Nature, and Likeness in Man. But seeing his own Birth, a Seed of his own Divine Nature is in every Man, to suppose God by an arbitrary Power, willing and decreeing its eternal Happiness in some, and willing and decreeing its eternal Misery in others, is a blasphemous Absurdity, and supposes a greater Injustice in God, than the wickedest Creatures can possibly commit against one another.
[Addr-234] But Truth, to the eternal Praise and Glory of God, will eternally say, that his Love is as universal and unchangeable as his Being, that his Mercy over all his Works can no more cease, than his Omnipotence can begin to grow weak. God's Mark of an universal Salvation set upon all Mankind, was first given in these Words, "The Seed of the Woman shall bruise the Head of the Serpent": therefore wherever the Serpent is, there his Head is to be bruised. This was God's infallible Assurance, or omnipresent Promise, that all that died in Adam, should have its first Birth of Glory again.The eternal Son of God came into the World, only for the Sake of this new Birth, to give God the Glory of restoring it to all the dead Sons of fallen Adam.All the Mysteries of this incarnate, suffering, dying Son of God, all the Price that He paid for our Redemption, all the Washings that we have from his all-cleansing Blood poured out for us, all the Life that we receive from eating his Flesh, and drinking his Blood, have their infinite Value, their high Glory, and amazing Greatness in this, because nothing less than these Supernatural Mysteries of a God-Man, could raise that new Creature out of Adam's Death, which could be again a living Temple, and deified Habitation of the Spirit of God.
[Addr-235] That this new Birth of the Spirit, or the Divine Life in Man, was the Truth, the Substance, and sole End of his miraculous Mysteries, is plainly told us by Christ himself, who at the End of all his Process on Earth, tells his Disciples, what was to be the Blessed, and full Effect of it, namely, that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter (being now fully purchased for them) should after his Ascension, come in the Stead of a Christ in the Flesh. "If I go not away," says he, "the Comforter will not come; but if I go away, I will send Him unto you, and he shall guide you into all Truth." Therefore all that Christ was, did, suffered, dying in the Flesh, and ascending into Heaven, was for this sole End, to purchase for all his Followers a new Birth, new Life, and new Light, in and by the Spirit of God restored to them, and living in them, as their Support, Comforter, and Guide into all Truth. And this was his, "LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD."
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PTW's 1998 HTML, on-line version of William Law's An Humble, Earnest, and Affectionate Address to the CLERGY was derived using (with permission) Warner Whites painstakingly transcribed ASCII electronic text (produced in 1995 by White, who worked from the modernized 1974 Georg Olms Verlag [Hildesheim NewYork ] edition of The Works of the Reverend William Law]. PTW volunteers added the formatting and emphatic use to return this manuscript to its "close-to-original" look and content, just as it was published in a 1893 reprint of the 1761 edition. Typographical errors, changed and omitted text that were discovered in Whites version have also been corrected as well. Except for the numbering [in square brackets] of the paragraphs (which did not appear in the original), the on-line rendering here at Pass the WORD is a reproduction of the much older, unedited 1761 edition.
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