« ZurückWeiter »
old lodging place, thou wilt breathe and cry to the Lord in the spirit, as one of old did, who was burthened and oppressed with their company : “ Search me and try me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” This is the cry which the Lord hears, and will answer in due and needsul time. And Jeremiah's
to Jerusalem, was: “Wash thy heart from wickedness, that thou mayst be saved: how long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?” Now the only way to dislodge them, and to be rid of their company,* is to show them no countenance, make no provision for them, give them no entertainment, but by the light of God which discovers them to be thy enemies, judge them, and keep thy mind exercised in the light and power of God that it is turned to; and in thy thoughts and imaginations, give them no regard. And though they do and may arise, pursue, and compass thee about like bees, yet thou keeping thy eye fixed in the light and power of God, which is as nigh thee as thy thoughts are, and showeth them unto thee, thou wilt see them in due time scattered as chaff befóre a fierce wind, and destroyed as stubble before a devouring fire.
Now as thou comest to be a believer in the light and to trust in the power of God, to which thy mind is turned, thou wilt become in very deed a child of it, and soon be able to say, darkness is past, and the true light now shineth; by which thou canst see and judge every thought and motion that ariseth and stirreth in thy mind, whether evil or innocent, hurtful or harmless, and have wisdom to order them accordingly. And this is that primitive wisdom man had in the beginning, but he abode not in it, through looking at the temptation and beauty of the thing presented to the eye of his mind, or through receiving from the woman: (for he was not deceived with the beauty of an apple, or some other outward fruit, nor by the talk and persuasion of any creature; like our English snakes, or the devil in the shape of it, as vain man in his carnal mind imagines when he reads the history thereof; but the temptation was more mysterious and inward.) The woman was deceived in her thoughts, in her judgment and understanding was she beguiled, before she obeyed the tempter; it appeared good for food, pleasant and desirables and able to make one wise, before she eat, or gave to her husband. Paul saith, the woman being deceived, was in the transgression subjected to vanity; not willingly, but through hope ; she hoped to find the serpent's words true, and to become more wise, and more happy, by taking the serpent's counsel; but instead thereof, fell into the depth of misery. The same danger attends the children of
* The way to be rid of evil thoughts and to see their destruction.
$ 1 Tim. ii. 14. Rom. viii. 20.
light, the sons and daughters of God; for Adam was a son of God before transgression. And it is only such who are in the restoration, children of the light, and of the day, that are capable to fall as Adam and Eve did, and to sin after the similitude of Adam's transgression, and to lose innocency, purity, holiness and uprightness, as they did, and be driven out of the garden of God, as they were.* Such as were never in it, nor ever dwelt in the state of restoration, innocency, purity, and holiness, cannot be said to fall from, or lose it, &c. Children of darkness, and children of the devil, who have gone astray from the womb, and always dwelt in darkness, and in the region and shadow of death, never knew what a harmless innocent estate is, what the life of purity and holiness is, nor what the simplicity of the gospel and Christ is; so cannot be beguiled, as the serpent did Eve, of that they never knew nor had, (as men and women now in the world;) yet such are beguiled by the serpent in another sort; not of what they have had, and did once enjoy, but of what they might have and should enjoy. And this he effects by keeping the eyes and minds of people abroad, and by persuading them to follow any thing, and walk in any way, rather than to turn the eye of their minds inward to the light, word, power, and spirit of God,t which shines, which speaks, which works in man, in order to lead, to teach, to guide and direct him into the way of life, and salvation, and to bring him into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, into a perfect translation from darkness to light, and from the kingdom and power of satan, to the kingdom and power of the son of God, and to know Christ made unto him wisdom, sanctification, and redemption.
This is the blessed end of God in sending his son a light into the world, even to enlighten the Gentile, Jew, professor, and profane, I and that through him they might believe and receive eternal life, and enter into that blessed rest that God hath prepared, which the primitive Christians who believed, entered into; where they did not speak their own words, nor think their own thoughts, nor do their own works; their heavenly Father spake in them, and their thoughts were thoughts of God, and he wrought all their works in them and for them. This is a blessed state indeed; and none are entered into the rest which God hath
prepared, but such as are come to witness and experience these things now in this age, as the primitive Christians did in ages past.
For while any are found thinking their own thoughts, speaking their
• The sons and children of God, of the light, and of the day, are only capable to fáll as Adam did; and not the children of the devil and darkness; they are to be restored into innocency, into uprightness, before they are in danger to fall from it as Adam did,
† The way and work of the devil to keep men in the fall, in the degeneration, in death and darkness, slaves in his kingdom.
# The precious love of God in sending his son.
thought and first appearance
own words, and doing their own works, though under a profession of Christ and Christianity, they cannot enter into the rest which God hath prepared; though they may create to themselves false rests, and kindle a fire, and walk by the light of their own sparks, but in the end lie down in sorrow.
True rest and peace are obtained, or come through a true self-denial: a dying to self-sinning, and self-righteousness, self-thinking, and selfworking, contriving, and inventing, self-wisdom, knowledge, and understanding also: all these things must be denied, annihilated or brought to nothing, and confounded. The feeding upon these things occasioned, and occasioneth the curse, and all the labour and turmoil, trouble, sorrow,* and torment that have attended, and do attend mankind since the fall; to the death must they all come before a sitting down in the kingdom of God can be witnessed, or before any can cease from their own works, as God did from his.
Now thou who art a child of light, understand this one thing for thy comfort and encouragement in thy warfare against evil thoughts; that notwithstanding multitude of thoughts do arise in thee, and troops thereof attend thee, which are in themselves sinful; yet if thou join not with them in thy mind, will, and understanding, they are not thy thoughts, neither shall the evil thereof be imputed unto thee; if thou lovest the light, and keepest thy mind joined to the spirit of God, or appearance of Christ in thee, that discovereth all temptations unto thee, in the very against the mighty; being joined unto him, art becoming one with him in thy mind and spirit, (though in thy members there is a law, a power that wars against thee,) and as thou abidest with the Lord, waiting upon him, even the
of a maid waits upon the hand of her mistress," he will save and deliver thee, and subdue all thy enemies, even those of thy own house, which are the greatest enemies.
Though temptations may, and will attend thee, yet it is no sin to be tempted,f though with inward temptations; neitheir art thou to account thyself, nor to be accounted a sinner, because sin and vain thoughts may present themselves in thee, in thy warfare estate, yet thou mayst say as Paal did, “ It is no more I, but sin that dwelleth in me; and that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing:"'which flesh thou art now in the way to know, withers as the grass, and the glory of it becomes as the faded flower of the field, and sin that dwelleth therein
• The feeding of the forbidden fruit which was good in itself, though not for food, occasioned and occasioneth at this day all the miseries that attend mankind.
It is no sin to be tempted. + Flesh, and sin that dwells in it, may be destroyed, and the earthen vessel cleansed, and the creature delivered from bondage, even on this side the grave.
destroyed, and the creature of God's making preserved, the earthen vessel that holds the heavenly treasure sanctified and saved, and delivered from the yoke of bondage the whole creation of God groans under. And this thou shalt certainly arrive at, as thou keepest thy eye upon thy saviour, thy light, thy way, thy captain, whom thou wilt see go before thee conquering and to conquer, till all his and thy enemies are subdued, brought under, and destroyed, and thou made as a king, as a priest to God, meeker than Moses, stronger than Sampson, wiser than Solomon, and more patient than Job;* as thy elder brother was, and as the primitive Christians were, who could say, “ As he is, so are we in this present world,” pure as he is pure, holy as he is holy, righteous as he is righteous, harmless and innocent as he was, and in all resigned up unto the will of God: “ Not my will (said the second Adam,) but thine,” though his will was as innocent and harmless as the first Adam was before the fall, and did excel. When thou comest up hither, thou wilt understand and receive what I say; till then it will be as a mystery and hard saying to thee.
And in thy way take heed of thinking, willing, and running, that obtains not the prize; stand still and see the salvation of God; mind above all, the arm of his power in thee, which is able to suppress thy thoughts, mortify thy will, stop thy running, and give thee perfect strength to resist the devil, and make him flee, and to furnish thee to every good word and work, and give thee dominion over thy own spirit, whose property is to be swift in thoughts, eager in desire, and restless in the accomplishment thereof.
Now it is written, he that hath rule over his own spirit is stronger than he that takes a city; and he that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, and without walls: when the righteous bears rule, the land rejoiceth; but when the wicked, the land mourneth.† These things are infallibly true; while the usurper keeps the throne, the prince of peace and his peaceable government are not known. Tribulation and
guish come upon every soul of man that doth evil, that thinketh and imagineth evil,s and that yields his members servants to unrighteousness, let his opinion, profession, and talk of religion be what they will:"he that commits sin is of the devil,” and without returning from it, a finishing er ending of it, and righteousness set up in the room thereof, will
• Lest thou shouldst stumble at those sayings, consider that John was the greatest prophet that was born of a woman, yet the least in the kingdom was greater than he.
+ Consider the simile, and in the light try and compare thyself there with, and thou wilt find the truth thereof.
# No opinion or profession of religion, &c. where evil thoughts and evil doings stand, avails any thing
(with the devil) have the wages and reward of the same, and possess the fruit of his own thoughts and doings.
Now it is a heavenly estate to live under the government of Christ, to know and experience him swaying the sceptre in the heart, and established in the throne thereof: but this none comes to enjoy, till they have first known him to sit as a refiner with fire, and as a fuller with soap, and as a spirit of judgment and burning; and as the stronger man to dispossess the strong man, spoil all his goods, sweep and cleanse the house, and to furnish it again with heavenly goods, with heavenly thoughts, with heavenly desires and meditations, and all things else that become the house of the Lord. Holiness to the Lord was written or engraven upon the crown and plate of gold, and all the furniture of the outward temple was sanctified, of which this is the anti-type, or substance; as he that enjoys it well knows.
And now it is the duty of a Christian to watch in the light against evil thoughts, and to use the axe of God, which is laid to the root of them, that their springing again may be hindered, and the end of them prevented; so also it is the duty of every one, when good thoughts and desires spring in the room thereof, to cherish them, to join with them, and to keep his eye unto the Lord that begat them, or raised them up in the heart. And so they, may be called God's thoughts, being of his own bringing forth, of his own begetting; being thoughtsof purity, thoughts of peace and righteousness, thoughts of holiness and joy in the inward man, which thoughtsthou of thyself canst not think. These are comfortable thoughts, justifying and excusing thoughts, thoughts that will stand approved in the light, and the end and tendency of them is good, even as pleasant fruit to the soul;* so that such can say as David once did, “How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God, how great is the sum of them? If I should count them they are more in number than the sand; when I awake I am still with thee." As thou lovest, the light, and delightest in the law of God, and meditatest therein, these good thoughts will multiply and increase in thee, to thy great content and satisfaction. But the thoughts of the wicked are sin, and sin brings trouble, anguish, and torment;ť men are accused or excused in their thoughts. It is said Belshazzar was so much troubled with his thoughts, that “his countenance was changed, and the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote together.” Dan. v. 6. Many are the amazing, scaring, tormenting thoughts that attend the wicked, “whose feet run to do evil, and make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are
Good thoughts are of God's own begetting; and very comfortable to a Christian, and are the fruit and effect of keeping and obeying the law of God within the heart. Rom. ii. 14, 15.
| Prov. xv. 26.