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cockatrice's den without hurt, and the earth would have been full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. And this song would have been in Christendom, as in the land of Judah, "We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." And the gates thereof would have been open to them, as a righteous nation that keepeth the truth, that they might have entered in, and dwelt safely. This would have been the state of Christendom.
But, alas! alas! the quite contrary appears. Instead of being as a fruitful field, and as a pleasant garden enclosed, and as a vineyard planted and walled about, bearing fruit unto God, and flourishing with trees and plants of his own right hand planting, 'tis like a desert howling wilderness, full of briars and thorns and hurtful weeds, whereby the good seed that was sown is choaked, and the noble plant degenerated from, and become the plant of a strange vine, which brings forth the sour grapes, which makes the wine of Sodom, which fills the whore's cup, whereby nations are made drunk.
And instead of being like a flock of harmless lambs, and lying down together in love and unity, feeding in the green pastures of life and salvation, in the low valley and atop.of the holy mountain, where no destroyer is, they are hike into a heard of swine, that is possessed, and runs violently into the sea, and that walloweth in the mire; and like the wolf, bear, hon, asp and cockatrice, which the little child hath not power over; but their devouring and poisonous nature remains, which makes them prey we upon another, bite and devour one another, hate and murder one another, even under the profession and name of Christ and Christianity. So instead of being as a city whose walls are salvation, and as the heavenly Jerusalem, they are like Sodom, Gomorrah and Babylon. And instead of being like a lamp that burneth, being fed with sweet oil, and a light that shineth, they are like a lamp that's gone out, and a candle under a bed or bushel, which gives no light to others. Instead of the meekness, love, brotherly kindness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forgiveness, innocency, goodness, harmlessness, righteousness, and heavenly-mindedness of Jesus, which he and his followers were and are endued withal, the quite contrary abounds. And yet a profession of Jesus in words is not wanting in these nations called Christendom; so that Isaiah's vision, sight, or prophecy is fulfilled therein, "The show of their countenance doth witness against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not: wo unto their soul; for they have rewarded evil unto themselves: children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people! they which lead thee, cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths," &c.*
* Isa. iii. 9, 12.
In this day also the prophecy is fulfilled in Christendom, "Seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach."*
These seven women are (or may fitly be compared to) the perfect full number of all the titular christians of all the divers sects and opinions in whole Christendom, who profess the name of Christ, and call Christ their husband, but play the harlot with other lovers, and eat their own bread, which is the forbidden fruit, and the old gathered manna, and wear their own apparel, which they have sewed together with their own hands, and formed by their own inventions, to cover their nakedness in transgression. But the Lord God, whom they have transgressed against, is come down to walk in his garden; and he finds it overgrown with weeds, thorns, briars and thistles; but neither the weeds, trees, nor fig-tree leaves of profession, though sewed together, and made like a garment of modesty and righteousness, can hide from his all-seeing eye. The word "Adam, where art thou?" is sounded forth, and he and all his works are found out, and the hidden things of Esau are found out, and the earth can no longer cover her slain: but the blood of righteous Abel cries, and the souls under the altar cry, "How long, Lord, how long will it be ere thou avenge thyself on them that dwell on the earth, and yet profess thy name, and thy son's, name, and say, Thus saith the Lord, when they have not heard thy voice, nor seen thy shape, nor known thy wonderous works in the deep, nor regarded the operation of thy hand?"
Because of these things the cry of the righteous hath been unto the Lord in all ages, and is now in this age, even because of the hatred and bloodiness of Cain about religion and worship, and because of the envy of Esau about the blessing; and because the great whore, who sits upon the waters, and rides upon the beast, and calls herself the lamb's wife, and holds forth her golden cup, full of abominations, with which the nations (even those called Christendom) are made drunk, hath so far prevailed.
And because the waters on which the whore sitteth, which are nations, tongues and people; and the beast on whom she rides, takes her golden cup for the cup of blessing, and for the gold that is tried in the fire, and the wine of fornication, for the new wine of the kingdom.
And because this great whore is taken for the bride, the lamb's wife, the harlot for the spouse of Christ, the titular christian for the true; finally, because light is called darkness, and darkness light, good evil, and evil good.†
I say, because of these things the cry and breathing of the souls of
* Isa. iv. 1.
This made Jeremy wish his head were waters, and his eyes a fountain of tears,
the righteous is unto the Lord, that he would take away the veil that is spread over the hearts of all people by transgression, and open the blind eye, and unstop the deaf ear, that his glory may be seen, and his voice heard, and the two great mysteries of godliness and iniquity revealed.
And that people may come to look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn over him, even him whom they have kissed with their lips, but betrayed in their hearts, and so come to that godly sorrow which leadeth to repentance, and a turning unto him who redeemeth from all these things, and bringeth into favour with God again, and giveth right to eat of the tree of life and to enter through the gate into the city, even the heavenly Jerusalem; which, that all may partake of and inherit, is the desire of the true Christian, who hath received the gospel of peace and good will to all men; the which, that thou may attain unto, take the counsel of one who was a child of wrath as well as others, and once lived in the nature of Cain and Esau; and was one of them in whom the whore sat, and was deceived by her golden cup, and drank of the wine of her fornication; and once took the whore for the lamb's wife, the harlot for the true woman, Babylon for Jerusalem, antichrist for Christ, the titular Christian for the true: but now knoweth that the son of God is come, and a good understanding given whereby he knoweth him that is true, and is in him that is true; and hath received wisdom to trace the eagle in the air, and the serpent on the rock, and the adulterous woman, who eatheth (the forbidden fruit) and wipeth her mouth, and saith, She hath done none evil; and is now acquainted with the wiles and mysterious workings of him, who is more subtil than all the beasts of the field; and is come to the rending of the veil, and the taking off the covering, and to the falling of the scales from his eyes, and to the revelation of the two great mysteries of godliness and iniquity. I say unto thee, whosoever thou art that readest these words, and knowest not the same, turn thy mind inward, commune with thy own heart, and be still. Stand in awe and sin not; fear to offend that holy spirit which searcheth thy heart, and love the reproofs thereof; for its the way of life; and wait low in the same, until that eye be opened in thee that can see God's salvation, that he hath appointed unto the ends of the earth; then wilt thou rejoice therein, and cease from man, whose breath is in his own nostrils, and speaks the studied inventions of his own corrupt heart, and the traditions of his fore-fathers; and yet saith,
that he might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of his people, Jer. ix. 1, 2. This made Christ to weep over Jerusalem, and Paul to wish himself separate from Christ for his brethren's sake. This made the prophets, apostles, and ministers willing to spend and be spent, and to run to and fro, that knowledge might be increased, and people undeceived.
"Thus saith the Lord, when he hath not spoken unto him, nor heard his voice, nor seen his shape;" but speaks the conceivings and divinations of his own brain, and the uncertain notions of his own spirit. The* listening and harkening to this and following of this in the particular and in the general, is the universal ground and root from whence spring all the diversities of sects and erroneous opinions upon the face of the earth; and from this ariseth all the willing and running, self-righteousness, will-worship, voluntary humility, and intrusion into things which are not seen in the vision of God, but being vainly puffed up in a fleshly mind. Now this thou art to cease from in thy own particular; for thou wert not created to follow thy own thoughts, conceivings, and imaginations, nor the motions of the flesh, nor enticements of the serpent; but another guide is appointed for thee, which all that are ignorant of, go astray from their youth.
Now, this guide is not afar off, that thou needest say, Who shall ascend, or descend, or go beyond the seas to fetch it; but it is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayst hear it and obey it, and be guided by it.
And that thou mayst know its voice, and teaching, and guidance, from all other voices and teachings, I will in a few words set before thee an infallible way, and show the certain marks and tokens thereof; for it is known by its work and operation.
First, If thou art, (as all are before the new creation is known,) without form and void, darkness being over the face of the deep; if thou art as the waters, or one covered with darkness; yet the spirit of God moveth upon the waters, and is ready to work in thee, and to form thee into a comeliness: and the true light shines in thee, though thou art darkness, in order to show thee the way out of it: and thou mayst know this holy spirit that moveth upon the waters, and the voice of it from thy own spirit, thoughts and imaginations, and from the voice of the serpent; because it always moveth against every appearance of evil,† and calls out of it; showeth thee the very secret thoughts and intents of thy heart, reproveth and judgeth every vain thought and imagination. And when thou goest before it, and walkest in the paths of darkness, sin and disobedience, thou mayst hear it as a voice behind thee, reproving thee, saying, "This is the way, walk in it." And this holy guide consents to no evil thou doest; but is given of God to lead thee out of it, and to bring thee to him that saves from it. This is the great ordinance of God, and the means of salvation, that he hath appointed; the which if thou slight and disregard thou wilt remain without form, void and empty of the heavenly treasures, and never be
The root of all division, erroneous opinions and sects.
An infallible mark of the holy spirit of God in the hearts of men, Jew and Gentile.
able to say in truth, as the primitive christians did, and the true christians now can, viz. "God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ;" and so wilt continue ignorant of the new creation of God, and of the experimental work of regeneration, profess what thou wilt, and live under what ordinances and means thou wilt, and hear what teachers thou wilt, and follow what other guides thou wilt, if thou learnest not of the grace of God within, which hath appeared to thee and all men, if thou walkest not in the light which shines within, and art not guided by the good spirit of God, which was the saints' guide in all ages, thy profession is vain, and thy religion a lie, and thou deceivest thy own soul; in sin thou livest, and in sin thou wilt die, and where Christ is thou canst not come. This is the experience of him that hath tried the traditions of men, the teachings and invention of men, books, and studied sermons, and carnal ordinances, and hath found them not able to lead one step in the narrow way, or give perfect victory over one sin. Neither is all the wisdom, understanding, prudence and knowledge among all the children of men, that are strangers to the new creation and work of regeneration, wrought by the spirit of God within themselves, able to direct or bring any so much as to the gate or entrance of true wisdom, life and immortality; but rather hedgeth up the way, and leadeth more and more astray from it.
This is the wisdom and knowledge which the righteous in former ages testified against, which is of this world, fleshly and foolish, earthly and sensual; and whoever increaseth in it, increaseth in that which brings sorrow; (for, as the fool, so dieth this wise man;) and whosoever sets himself up in this wisdom, as a teacher of the ignorant, and as a guide to the blind, though allowed by the universities, (or general schools,) he runs before he is sent, and doth not profit the people at all; but is as the blind which leadeth the blind, and they both fall into the ditch together; out of which there is no redemption, but by the knowledge of the effectual working of the holy spirit, and son of God in thee, to open thy eye, that thou mayest see where thou art, and beget a desire in thee, and a cry in thee for deliverance, and minister strength unto thee, and to pull thy feet out of the mire and clay, and to set them upon a rock, and be as a light unto thee, to guide thee in thy way, that thou stumble not again. All which I testify he is ready and willing to do for thee, and all that love his appearance. And those only love his appearance, that love the spirit of truth in them, and believe in it, and receive it, which reproveth them of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; and this is an infallible proof, that people love this spirit, believe in it, and receive it, when they walk* in it, and obey * A true proof that people love the spirit.