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with his Clergy, p. 14. Edit. 1690.) Or, as Hooker ingenuously confesses, Touching our sermons,' saith he, that which giveth them their very being, is the wit of man, and therefore they oftentimes accordingly taste too much of that over-corrupt fountain from which they come.' Eccl. Polity. 1. 5. Sec. 22. p. 163. Edit. 1666.
"3. They preach for hire, and divine for money and filthy lucre, as the false prophets did of old whereas the ministers of Christ having freely received, freely gave, and for his name's-sake went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles, 3 John, ver. 7. The apostle Paul, in his speech to the elders of Ephesus, propounds himself as a pattern, in this case, worthy of imitation. 'I have coveted,' saith he, no man's silver, or gold, or apparel; yea, you yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me: I have showed you all things, how that so labouring, ye ought to support the weak; and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is better to give than to receive,' Acts, xx. 33, 34, 35.
"The apostle Paul, though a minister of Christ, and had the care of all the churches upon him, did not forbear working with his hands in an honest calling, as the clergy of our day do; but he earned his living with his fingers; and as he was laborious at his trade himself, so he exhorted and commanded others to imitate him. He, and Sylvanus, and Timotheus, did not eat any man's bread for nought, but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that they might not be chargeable to any; and to make themselves an example unto others to follow them, See 1 Thess.
iv. 11, and 2 Thess. iii. 7, 8, 9. Having received freely, they freely gave, demanding no tithes, or offerings, or money for their ministry, but they preached the gospel of Christ freely; whereas, in contradiction to the practice of the apostles and primitive church, many of the clergy now demand tithes, and compel those by severe punishments, who conscientiously refuse to pay them.
"Would it not be better for these greedy and covetous persons, to be followers of the apostles, and to quit their pretensions to tithes, working with their hands to get their own living, than to live upon the people's labours, and make both themselves and their ministry so burdensome, as they are to their neighbours throughout this nation, through their covetousness.
"We read of Spiridion, Bishop of Trimithous, a city of Cyprus, that he kept a flock of sheep for his livelihood, and of Zeno, Bishop of Majuma or Constantia, who lived until he was past one hundred years old, that though he was the most eminent bishop of that country, yet he followed the trade of a linen weaver, and by that occupation got his meat and drink, and something to relieve the poor withal: and this trade he continued to his death. But now the case is altered: the apostolical primitive practice is laid aside by the clergy; who love to live at ease, and eat the bread of other men's labours." Socrates Scholast. Eccles. Hist. lib. i. cap. 12, in the Greek; also, Niceph. Eccl. Hist. lib. xii. cap. 47.,
THIS year Richard Claridge wrote the following letter to Joseph Taylor, formerly a Baptist preacher, and then newly convinced of the truth, as held by the people called Quakers, of which he was after a professor and preacher to the end of his days.
"6th Month, 24th, 1708.
"The truth, as it is in Jesus, or Christ, who is the truth itself, is only savingly and effectually known by his internal illumination, and those blessed operations and effects which he produces in the soul. All other knowledge of him is but notional, this alone is real because experimental.
"Before my convincement of the truth, and experience in my measure of the work of it in my heart, I was a great stranger to Christ in his inward and spiritual appearance. I knew him be
fore as to his outward appearance, for I believed the whole history of his birth, life, sufferings, death, resurrection, ascension, intercession, and coming to judge the quick and the dead; as I do now; but I did not know him then as to his inward appearance, as it hath been since manifested to me.
"For, until I knew him come like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap, and sit as a refiner and purifier of silver in my soul, and to purify and purge me as gold and silver; the dross and tin which were in me, obstructed that saving and spiritual knowledge of him, which through the riches of his grace, I have in measure attained to. For they veiled and darkened my understanding, and till they were removed, they intercepted the spiritual sight of him.
"Now, to remove this darkness, there was first light, (not natural, but divine;) and that showed me my sin, the guilt, filth, and penalty due to it, eternal death; and directed me to Christ, the alone Saviour, for salvation from sin, and for deliverance from the penalty due thereunto, eternal death. And as I was enabled by the grace of God, (for without that I could do nothing of myself,) to believe in Christ and repent of my sin, which in low and silent waiting, not for it, was mercifully bestowed upon me, so I came by the powerful and effectual working of the same grace, to pass through the ministration of con
demnation, and to witness gradually and measurably the ministration of life and peace. I say, gradually; for so it was with me. The work was not instantaneous, but by degrees. Not but that the Almighty could have done it in a moment: but I speak of the experience I have had of his gracious dealings with me, who bore the indignation of the Lord for many months, because I had sinned against him. Many a night I watered my couch with my tears, so that when it was evening I wished for the morning, and when the morning came I wished again for the evening. It was a time of great distress, anguish, and perplexity of soul, and I had utterly fainted in my afflictions, had not the Lord by his secret power sustained me. I was ready sometimes to say, 'Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Will the Lord cast off for ever, and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?' But in the midst of this distress of soul I had now and then a word of comfort given me from the Lord, whereby my faith was strengthened, my hope encouraged, and my love to God excited and revived. For though the terrors of the Lord were upon me, yet I was made sensible of his love in this terrible dispensation, and that he cast me into the furnace, in order to purify and refine me. And as this purging work went forward, so I became in love with it, and earnestly cried unto the Lord that he would take away all iniquity, and cleanse me from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, that he would not suffer one Canaanite to dwell in the land, but put all to the sword that was for the slaughter,
that he would thoroughly purge his floor, make my inside perfectly clean, and fit me for communion with himself.
"I am fully persuaded, that then the work of the Lord goes rightly on, when we are in love with his righteous judgments, and desire they may have a complete and perfect work in us. But if we fly from his righteous judgments, and seek ease to the flesh, and content ourselves with a superficial or partial operation, the work will be at a stand, and without a fresh visitation from God, and faithfulness in us thereunto, our latter end will be worse than our beginning.
"I feel at this time a travail upon my spirit for thee; for thou hast a dispensation of judgment and condemnation to pass through. But be not dismayed, the Lord will cover the judg
ment-seat with mercy; and as thou keepest low, waitest in silence of the flesh, and hast thy eye and cry unto the Lord, he will support thee under thy exercises, and bring thee through them in his due time and season.
"Be faithful to that of God which opens at any time in thee; do not go before thy leader and commander, Christ Jesus, but follow him. Do not turn to the right hand, or the left, but mind the still small voice speaking in thee. Do not regard the 'Lohere's' and 'Lo-there's' that are in the world; for the kingdom of God cometh not by observation, but the kingdom of God is within thee: O, that we may all know a being in the kingdom!
"Thou hast been rich and full; and thoughtest thou wantedst nothing; blessed shalt thou be as thou comest to see and know that thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. For to such an one is the counsel of Christ, 'Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayst be rich, and white raiment that thou mayst be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayst see.' Rev. iii. 18.
"Be not concerned about things temporary, but first seek the kingdom of heaven, and the righteousness thereof, and all other things shall be added. Regard not the scoffs, jeers, censures, or persecutions that the enemies of truth may cast at thee, pass upon thee, or raise against thee. The entrance into the kingdom of God is through many tribulations.
"In a word, turn to the light of Christ in thy own heart and conscience: believe in it, and faithfully follow its illuminations, and this will lead thee to the holy hill of the Lord, and bring thee to his holy habitation, where thou wilt find the bread and water of life, for the refreshing, comforting, and strengthening thy immortal soul. Here thou shalt know a being baptized into Christ, and a sitting down with him at his table, and the eating of his flesh, and drinking of his blood.
"My soul is concerned for thee, and I travail for thee, that the immortal birth may be brought forth, and thou mayst come to show forth the praises of him that calleth thee out of darkness into his marvellous light.
"I commend thee to God and the word of his grace, which is able to build thee up, and give thee an inheritance among his sanctified ones, who am
"Thy soul's affectionate well-wisher,