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iii. 6. Mark it, Ye sons of Jacob, it is the travailing, wrestling seed that obtain the blessing, such as Jacob was, who wrestled with the angel of the covenant, and would not let him go, exccpt he blessed him, and he prevailed with him, and had the blessing, Gen. xxxii. 24, 26, 28, 29. These travailing ones, these hungering and thirsting ones, that cannot be satisfied with any thing short of God, and the enjoyment of his living presence, shall, as they continue so travailing, hungering and thirsting, see of the travail of their souls, and be satisfied; for the Lord never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain, Isa. xlv. 19. Fear not therefore, but put thy trust in the Lord, and he will do great things for thee. Behold, he will cause the pastures of the wilderness to spring, the tree to bear her fruit, the fig-tree and the vine to yield their strength; for he who hath given the former, will also send the latter rain, and thy floor shall be full of wheat, and thy fat overflow with the wine and oil of his divine refreshments.
"I perceive thy lameness, and distance from meetings, are at times a disconsolate subject to thy meditations; but, be of good cheer, the Lord will provide for thee and minister to thee, according as thou art faithful to the measure of the divine gift he hath bestowed upon thee. For none of his flock or family, shall want their daily sustenance, as they cry unto and depend upon him for it. It is very comfortable to assemble, and sit together with the Lord's people, in a right exercise of mind before him; and I know by mine own experience, that after the Spirit of truth had reproved me of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, and I was enabled by the Lord's power, to give up in obedience thereunto, cries arose in the secret of my heart unto him, 'Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon; for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions ?' Solomon's Song, i. 7. It was, and is my earnest desire, to meet with the Lord among his people, in their solemn religious gatherings; and I do believe, the like desire is begotten in all truly convinced ones: for, being baptized by the Spirit of Christ, we are baptized into the one pure heavenly mystical body, whereof he is the head, and unto which he ministereth life and nourishment, for the increase and edification in the unity of the blessed truth. So that from hence ariseth an earnest breathing in every true member of the heavenly body, that it may fill up, and keep its
place in the body, and partake of that divine life, which from Christ the head, is communicated unto it. But where such gathering together, as outwardly, is through lameness, distance of place, &c. made impossible to us, there the Lord doth not require it of us; for these, and the like, are dispensing providences; and this I am fully persuaded of, because the Lord is no hard master, to require that of us, which he hath made us providentially incapable of performing. Where there is no law, there can be no transgression; now there is no law to oblige a person to obedience, where it is simply impossible for him to obey. "And therefore the Lord, who is a most tender and compassionate Father, taketh special care of all his poor children under their respective circumstances, and supplieth all their needs, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Not one of them shall want their daily bread and water. Their bodily absence from meetings, where it is unavoidably necessary, shall not hinder their meeting with the Lord in spirit; as they wait for him, every one of them shall have their portion in due season; for he will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly, Psal. lxxxiv. 11. He is not limited to time or place, but everywhere he manifests himself to his broken and contrite ones, that fear him and tremble at his word. All that he requires of them, is faithfulness in, and obedience to the measure bestowed upon them.
"It is matter of rejoicing to my soul, that the Lord hath been pleased to make my book, or any part of it, helpful unto thee, as I hear he hath also done unto many more, and I believe will yet do it. And therefore, not unto man, but unto the Lord alone, be ascribed the praise and glory of all. Let his name only be magnified and exalted, for he alone is worthy, whose is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. Amen.
"In a sense of that divine light and life, which first enlightened and quickened my soul to God, and is my daily light and preservation, in my waiting upon him, I conclude this epistle, subscribing myself
66 Thy sincerely affectionate Friend,
"Barking, in Essex,
"29th of the Second Month, 1702."
1 "Mercy covering the Judgment-seat.”
In this year, Richard Claridge went down to the yearly meeting at Colchester, accompanied by Samuel Waldenfield, and William Hornhold. In their way thither, on the 7th of the Fourth Month, about noon, they had a meeting at the SpreadEagle Inn at Ingatestone, a place where few or no Friends dwelt; but, notice being given, the people of the town came in, and a good opportunity they had of declaring the truth among them.
From thence they went the same day to Chelmsford, where they met with Joseph Heale: they had a comfortable meeting with the Friends of that place in the evening, and next day proceeded to Colchester, where they had, on the 9th and 10th, very large and good meetings; at one of them, it was thought, were at least fifteen hundred people present. They had good service there, their testimony in general was well accepted, and Joseph Heale, was in an especial manner opened, and carried forth in his declaration, concerning the revelation of Almighty God to his servant Jacob, in his dream of the ladder, set upon the earth, and reaching up to heaven, Gen. xxviii. 11, &c. On this subject he was drawn forth into several points of doctrine, to the extraordinary information and satisfaction of the numerous auditory; insomuch that his declaration was for many years after remembered, and mentioned with admiration by several inhabitants of that town, under the name of the Ladder Sermon, and is even yet fresh upon the
memories of some that heard it.
Among his manuscripts, this year, we find the following passage explanatory of John, iii. 5, “Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
"Of such as suppose water in this text, to be understood of elementary water, I would ask, what water that is, which Christ spake of to the woman of Samaria, John, iv. 14, which the Lord promised to pour upon the thirsty, Isa. xliv. 3, to sprinkle his people with, Ezek. xxxvi. 25, and which John writes of, Rev. vii. 17, and xxi. 6, and xxii. 1, 17? Is this elementary or spiritual water? Spiritual water, doubtless, as the context shows. And so, John, iii. 5; 'Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit,' &c. cannot be understood of elementary water. First, because the water Christ speaks of to Nicodemus, Seis of a regenerating quality; but elementary water is not. condly, because this water is absolutely necessary to salvation; but so is not elementary water: except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
"But it may be objected, That if water here, is not to be taken for elementary water, there is a tautology in the text.
"I answer, Redoubled expressions are very frequent in Scripture; that is, one thing expressed by two terms; by a figure called Hendiadis. Therefore water and the Spirit are taken simply for the Spirit, the Spirit being often signified by water. The copulative, and, is here exegetical, or explanatory, the latter member interpreting the former. And to me, the context puts it out of all doubt; for in the 6th, 7th, and 8th verses, as also verse 3, there is no mention at all made of water. I might cite the opinion of several learned men upon this text, as Grotius, Piscator, Gomarus, &c. to show my interpretation is not singular; but finding it done very fully by Calvin, I shall wave them, and transcribe him at large: It is an error in those, who because they hear the name of water, think that kind of baptism is mentioned in this place. For after Christ hath opened the corruption of nature to Nicodemus, and taught him the necessity of the new birth, and Nicodemus dreamed of a corporeal one, Christ here shows him the manner how God doth regenerate us, namely, by water and the Spirit; that is to say, by the Spirit, which in cleansing and watering the souls of the faithful, performs by way of resemblance, the office of water. And there
fore, I take water and the Spirit, simply for the Spirit, because it is as water. Neither is this a new, or strange way of speaking; for it accords with that in Matt. iii. 11. He that cometh after me, he it is that baptizeth in the Holy Ghost, and fire. Therefore, as to baptize in the Holy Ghost and fire, is to give the Holy Ghost, which in regeneration, resembleth the office and nature of fire; so to be born again of water and of the Spirit, is nothing else but to receive that virtue or power of the Spirit, which produceth the like effect in the soul, that water doth in the body. I know that some give another interpretation of the text; but that this is the genuine sense, I have no doubt or scruple; because it is apparently the purpose of Christ, to teach all who have breathings or desires in them after the kingdom of heaven, that they must put off their own corrupt nature.' And a little after, he saith, Laying aside all cavils, let us keep to this simple interpretation which I have given, that no man can enter into the kingdom of God, until he be regenerated of living water, that is the Spirit.' So far Calvin in his Institutions, book iv. chap. 16, sect. 25, whose interpretation is vindicated by Du Moulin, Novelty of Popery, lib. vii. cont. 9. c. vii. p. 671, 672, 673, against the accusations of Cardinal Du Perron. And Luke saith, Acts, xiv. 13, that the priest of Jupiter brought bulls and crowns, instead of crowned bulls. So Rev. xiv. 10, Fire and brimstone, instead of burning brimstone. 2 Tim. i. 10, Life and immortality, for immortal life. John, xiv. 6, Christ calls himself the way and the truth, that is, the true way.
"But if any will needs take water, in John, iii. 5, for elementary water, why should not fire, Matt. iii. 11. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire,' be taken also for elementary fire? There is the same reason for the one, that there is for the other, if not greater, if the bare letter of the text must determine the matter; for in John, iii. 5, the word baptize is not mentioned, but in Matt. iii. 11, it is said expressly, 'He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.' From whence some taking the word, fire, for elementary fire, do mark their children, either before baptism, with an hot iron, see Brerewood's Enquiries, cap. 21, of the Jacobites in Syria, Cyprus, Mesopotamia, Babylon, and Palestine; or, after baptisın, as Grotius reports of the Ethiopians, Synop. Crit. in Matt. iii. 11,such is the blindness and ignorance of many that make profes