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thoughts of iniquity, wasting and destruction are in their paths; the way of peace they know not, and there is no judgment in their goings,” &c. Isa. lix. 7, 8.
Now the thoughts of the righteous are right, and those that commit their way to the Lord, their thoughts shall be established. And that is a blessed state indeed, to have good thoughts established in the heart, in the mind;* such can go forth, and come in, in peace, lie down and rise up in peace, live and walk in peace, and praise the God of peace, who is blessed for evermore. And this is the
And this is the peace, the inward peace, which the world, with all its treasures and pleasures, cannot give, nor by its frowns take away, and is the portion of all that get victory over their own thoughts, imaginations, lusts, desires, and affections; and that do also keep in the wisdom and power of God, that when good thoughts are established in them, and they are so made partakers of the divine nature that they naturally think good thoughts, thoughts of love, peace, and obedience, (as they did while in the degeneration think the contrary,) yet in this state of innocency and harmlessness to be diligent in the wisdom of God, to dress and keep the garden, lest thou having found honey, eat more than may suffice to nourish the right birth; lest thou feed thyself without fear, eat and drink and rise up to play,t grow idle and wanton, through plenty, and so forget the Lord, and let his benefits slip out of thy mind, and slight his commandments, and let pride and exaltation in thy selfish spirit grow up again, as the first Adam and others did, mentioned in the holy scriptures; which are written for our learning and admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come, 1 Cor. x. 11. therefore let him that thinketh he stands, take heed lest he fall.
Concerning the Life, State, and Enjoyment of a true Christian.
The life of a Christian, of an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile, is a life of innocency; peace and content, quietness and true satisfaction abound in the inward man. He is always doing well, so none can harm him; he always lives in the fear of God, which taught him to depart from iniquity, and now preserveth him out of the same. He loveth God and his neighbour, and hates no man, so fears not what man can do unto him ;[ his bread is sure, and his water fails not, so he takes no
The effect of good thoughts when established in the heart. | Many may eat and drink unworthily, deck themselves with God's jewels, and play the harlot with them. # He that lives in the love, fear, and favour of God, needs not fear men nor devils.
thought for to-morrow, but receives every day his daily bread from the Lord; he liveth without care, neither doth he toil or spin; the lilies' life he knows, which Solomon in all his wisdom and glory wanted, or was not arrayed with. If he hath wife or children, house or land, or the increase of corn, wine, and oil, he looks upon them as things below, so doth not set his heart and affection upon them; he looks upon them as they are, and loves them in their places, but not more than Christ, He' loves the Lord above all, he loves to keep his conscience void of offence towards God and towards man, above all, and if he cannot enjoy his estate and relations according to the will of God, he is ready and willing to part with them, and can say as Job did, “ The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” He is not afraid of evil tidings, the ruffling of the winds and the roaring of the sea do not amaze nor affright him; he lives the life of faith, which gives him victory, and enables him to overcome all things; he keeps on the helmet of it, and the breast-plate of righteousness, and the sword of the spirit, so is always armed against all assaults of the world, flesh, and the devil; and he knows the name of the Lord as a strong tower, as a shield, as a buckler, as a wall of defence, and is prepared to suffer and endure all things, like a good soldier, with a settled countenance, and holy resolution. And though by men he may be accounted smitten and forsaken of God, and not fit to live upon the earth, yet he enjoys heavenly consolation, pure tranquillity of mind, refreshment, comfort, and joy in the inward man. “ The king's daughter is all glorious within,” and all things that do, or can befal a Christian on this side the grave, are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is and shall be revealed in him.f And if there was no reward on the other side the grave, he would not exchange his life and condition, for all the glory, riches, and excellency the world can afford, seeing and accounting it all " vanity and vexation of spirit; yea, less than nothing, and lighter than vanity.” Isa. xl. 17. Psalm, lxii. 9. Having found the precious pearl, (which the swine regard not,) he is willing to part with all for it; knowing the wonderful virtue, riches, and power thereof, he bids adieu to all the fading treasures and pleasures of Egypt; choosing rather to suffer aflliction and persecution for righteousness' sake, than to enjoy the court pleasures of princes. And he is a great gainer hereby, even in this life, on this side the grave, a hundred fold: he finds by experience that saying true, “Godliness with content is great gain, and is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.' 1 Tim. iv. 6.
• The true Christian stands always armed; though not with carnal weapons.
† The present enjoyment of the favour and countenance of God, is more esteemed, more valued by the true Christian, than all things visible.
So though the true Christian seems in the judgment of the wise in their own conceit, to lose the enjoyment of his life, honour, riches, profit, pleasure, preferment, relations, &c. instead thereof he finds them all; and in the true self-denial enjoys them all,* and is able to say as Paul did to the Corinthians, speaking of himself and other Christians, “ as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things; having learned to be content in all estates and conditions, knowing how to suffer want, and how to abound, every where, and in all things,” &c.f And where there is true content, there is no want, no poverty, no sorrow, but what is turned into plenty, riches, and rejoicing. In sum, the true christian hath found the stone of the wise men, or the universal tincture or medicine which cureth all inward diseases of the soul, mind, and spirit; makes him sound and clean every whit; works mighty wonders for him; makes him more precious than gold, yea, than fine gold; makes him rejoice in sorrow, sing in the stocks; makes a dungeon a palace, bonds and chains liberty; makes poverty riches; turns loss into gain, darkness into light before him. These and many more are the virtues and powerful operations of the precious pearl,s the white stone, the elect and precious stone, the chief corner stone, which the wise master-builders set at naught and stumble at, and will not use in their building; but to the Christian indeed, he is precious, he is his foundation, corner, and top-stone also, and as a treasure better than mountains of gold, and as a' rock out of which issueth the water of life, that makes the river of pleasure, that never ceaseth running at the right hand of God. These things are known and enjoyed by the true Christian, as he arrives at the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and all that are but travellers therein, taste of the same in the way thereto; but the bare professor, or formalist, or titular Christian, knows nothing hereof.
For the life, riches, and enjoyment of a Christian, are inward and hidden; his life is hid with Christ in God, none knowcth it but he that hath it; his conversation is with God in heaven, and his treasure is laid up where he walks and dwells, and where he sits in heavenly places with his saviour Christ Jesus, who is made unto him wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. And not only so, but he is come to see what is “ the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God:” he is come to know “the Lord one, and his name one,” to the “one body, one spirit, one hope, one faith, one baptism,” one way, one truth, one life, “ one God and Father
• No true enjoyment of any thing, but in the will of God, and true self-denial. t Content, the pleasant companion for a Christian.
# The wonderful riches, virtue, power, and operation of the precious pearl, none knows but he that hath it.
of all, who is above all, through all, and in all.” This is the blessed end of all the appearances, manifestations, and dispensations, under all the variety of names, and various workings of the one eternal God towards mankind ever since the fall, mentioned throughout the holy scriptures, and witnessed to by the true Christian, who really enjoys the end of Paul's bowing his knees, or prayer unto the Father* of his Lord, his Jesus, and his Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. Ephes. iii.
Now when the true Christian bath travelled through multiplicity into unity, through the various dispensations, operations, and workings of the spirit of God, before the law, under the law, through the law, to the prophets; and to the ministration of John, and so to Jesus the son of Abraham, David, and Mary, and hath followed him from the manger to the cross, and from thence to the grave;t and known a being dead and buried with him, and a rising with him; and not only seeking those things that are above, but hath found them, having known and experienced Christ in all his offices, as the great ordinance of God, as a mediator, reconciler, intercessor, maker of peace, healer of the wound, and maker up of the breach the first Adam made, as a quickening spirit, and Lord from heaven; as a king, priest, and prophet; as a saviour, sanctifier, and redeemer; as a purifier and maker of an end of sin, and bringer in of everlasting righteousness; and as a high priest to present to God, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. When he is thus known to perform all these offices in and for his people, he is then by such known to sit down at the right hand of God, having accomplished the work the Father gave him to do, having put all things under, and restored all things into their primitive order. He then is also known to surrender up the kingdom to the Father, and God to become all in all. T Here the first is known to be last, and the last first; the beginning the end, and the end the beginning; and the heavenly rest with him who is without beginning or end. I say, rest with him, in a pure celestial stillness, from all self-working, willing, running, and thinking. And though an innocency, or innocent self be attained unto, and a harmless will known, yet that must not act, work, will, run and think of itself, as the true Christian, who hath travelled and experienced, as before is
• Not to Jesus the son of Abraham, David, and Mary, saint, or angel, but to God the Father, all worship, honour, and glory is to be given through Jesus Christ, &c.
† The only pilgrimage of a Christian; all other pilgrimages to places, tombs, and relics are yain and fruitless.
# These things are not only to be read, professed, and talked of, but experimentally known.
$ This is the ascending of Christ up where he was before he descended, and before there was any cause for his descension. He that can understand let him.
1 Thus the Lord is known one, and his name one.
hinted, knows right well; being always of his elder brother's mind and frame of spirit, saying to his Father, “ Not my will, but thine.” Herein he receives wisdom to dress and keep the garden, power and strength to resist and overcome the serpent in paradise, and the dragon in heaven, and to keep his habitation in the heavenly city Jerusalem, which comes down from God out of heaven, whose walls are salv on, and whose gates are praise for ever and evermorę.
Concerning the worship of a Christian, (or the Christian worship,)
what it stands in, and how it is performed.
There is a great contest in Christendom, among the divers sects and bare professions of Christianity, about worship; and many are the modes, manners, forms, and ceremonies that are cried up among them; every sect conceiving, imagining, and supposing their way, manner, and fashion to be right, &c. all being full of dispute, contention, and quarrelling one with and against another, envying and hating one another, fighting, killing, and destroying one another about them, when they are all but of their own devising, forms and images of their own making; mostly from the example of Jews, Gentiles, and apostate Christians; and are not led thereto, nor guided therein, by the unerring spirit of God; as their fruits make fully manifest, to the great scandal of the Christian religion.'
Now the true Christian's worship is in the spirit; and in the truth, not in the letter, nor in the form barely, but was before all letters and outward laws and prescriptions were, before all inventions were, before all errors, and the spirit of them were. This was the worship in paradise; when mankind neglected this worship he fell into evil, into invention, into error, which was the cause of the outward law, and all other dispensations of God for the recovery of lost man.* And before he can witness a return out of his lost estate, he must come again to the same worship in the spirit, and in the truth, even the truth in the inward parts, for that is it which God loves,—to the word in the mouth, to the law in the heart, and the fear in the inward parts, from all fear towards God, taught by the precepts of men, from all traditions of men of corrupt minds; from all devices and inventions of men. This is the blessed estate the true Christian is come into, and is the end, sum, and substance of all holy writings, forms, and holy traditions, ministrations, and dispensations, before the law, under the
Sin was the occasion (or cause) of the law, the labour of the prophets, and the coming and suffering of Christ.