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no peace with the Lord any longer than I am found in the obedience. If carelessness or remissness at any time come upon me, and way is given to indifferency, I have no rest in my spirit, till I am recovered again through judgment. Therefore, I feel a travail for continual watchfulness, that though I am beset many times with great temptations, yet I may not be overcome by them. And as I wait low in my mind upon the Lord for his appearance, so he is pleased to renew my strength, and to afford me suitable supports according to my day; praised be his excellent name for ever! And being made a living witness in my measure of his divine aid and assistance, wherewith he strengthens and guides my soul in the way that is well-pleasing to him; I cannot eat my morsel alone, but would have all, and especially those of my own house, partake with me, and taste and see that the Lord our God is good. When Jacob was commanded by the Lord, to arise and go up to Bethel, which in the Hebrew tongue, signifies the house of God, and dwell there, he saith unto his household, and to all that were with him, “Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments; and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went." Gen. xxxv. 1, 2, 3. See here an example of ready obedience to the command of God; Jacob had a sense of the Lord's goodness to him in the day of his distress, and the travail which he had known; and this begat a concern in him, not only for the manifesting of his own obedience, but also for his household, that they might likewise give proof of
theirs, which accordingly they did, as the 4th verse informs us, where it is said, That they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all the ear-rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. And then it follows, verse 5, they journeyed. This holy reformer knew there could be no going up to the house of God while the strange gods remained, and while the household was unclean and had not changed their garments. He saw the necessity of a reformation, in order to their journeying to Bethel and dwelling there. "Who shall ascend," saith David, “into the hill of the Lord? and who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart, who hath not lift up his soul unto vanity-he shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation." Psalm xxiv. 3, 4, 5. Now there are many strange gods among the people, that are to be put away, many pollutions to be purged out, and garments to be changed. Is not Mammon a strange God? Is not pride and carnal pleasure a strange god? Indeed, every creature that man idolizes in his heart, is a strange god, and must be put away. So, for the pollutions of the flesh and the spirit; that is, whatsoever we are polluted by, whether it be an inward or an outward thing, it must be purged out. Lastly, our garments must be changed; the old man, with his deeds, must be put off, and the new man put on: and where this is known and witnessed, there will be a change, even in the outward conversation. A new heart will have a new tongue, and a new habit. Plainness of speech, and plainness of dress, are the plain and certain consequences of Truth, where it is received in the
love of it. For when Truth hath got the possession of the heart, it will undoubtedly influence the life and practice.
I can give in my testimony, as one that hath obtained mercy to be faithful, that Truth, as it is minded and obeyed leads out of sin, out of all false doctrine and worship, and out of all the vain customs, usages, and fashions that are in the world. When we come to love it, first, for its own sake, and next for the work and operation of it, in and upon our own hearts,-O, what a tenderness will be in us! What a care of acting in all things according to it, and what a fear of doing any thing that is repugnant thereunto! We shall not plead for our own wills, or pleasures, or imaginations; or say, this is a small matter, religion doth not lie in dresses, habits, or fashions: This is a strictness beyond what Truth requires; or it is a peevish humour of some rigid spirits, that would bring all into conformity to their fancies. But we shall deny our own wills, pleasures, and imaginations, and be resigned up entirely to the will of God, desiring that that may be done in earth, as it is in heaven. This will be our travail, that we may be always found in the well-doing, and taking up our daily cross to all that, which may present itself under any shape or likeness, to draw away our minds from the purity and simplicity of the gospel of Christ.
My dear Friend! I know by experience, that the wiles of the enemy are many, and that he works oftentimes in a mystery; but the care of all the faithful is to watch against him, and to wait for divine wisdom, strength, and courage, to discover him, and to resist him steadfastly in the faith of
our Lord Jesus Christ; who is nigh to us by his light and Spirit, to guide, help, and assist us, as we draw nigh to him in humility and sincerity of heart.
In this frame and disposition of soul, our peace will flow in like a river, and our righteousness will rise as the waves of the sea. For our eye will be inward to our heavenly guide, leader, and commander, that we may always follow his conduct and direction; not turning aside to the right hand or to the left, but pressing, in the strait and narrow path, toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Well, my dear Friend! As for me and my house, through the Lord's great mercy to me, I can truly say, it is my desire and endeavour, that all may know the Lord from the least unto the greatest, that all may love him, serve him, honour and obey him, having such conversations in language, action, and outward adorning, as becomes the gospel of Christ, wherein I have many that travail with me. Blessed for ever be the name of the Lord! saith my soul. Amen, Amen.
I am thy hearty well-wisher, in that which remains and abides blessed for ever,
A Letter to a Foreigner, who from being a Papist, was convinced of the Light of Christ.
THE loving-kindness and mercy of Almighty God toward the children of men is wonderfully extended, in that he willeth not that any should perish, but
that all should come to repentance; for the Lord our God is merciful, and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, he is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness is accepted of him. Aptly therefore, doth Paul both query and reply, "Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also." Rom. iii. 29. For although he chose the Jews to be a peculiar people to himself above all nations under heaven, because he loved them, and because of the oath which he had sworn unto their fathers, Exod. xix. 5, and Deut. vii. 6, 8, yet did he not forsake the Gentiles as a people altogether cast off, and totally destitute of his grace and favour; for Japheth was to be persuaded to dwell in the tents of Shem, Gen. ix. 27, and the people was to be gathered unto Shiloh, or his Son, that is, Christ, according to the prophecy of Jacob, Gen. xlix. 10. The promise of God was made unto the Gentiles, saying, "I will say to the north, give up; and to the south, keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth. Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears," Isa. xliii. 6, 8. He also calls unto himself all the ends of the earth; he hath excluded no man in the world, by any decree, as the Predestinarians rashly and ignorantly affirm. For, he mercifully invites all in these words, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else," Isai. xlv. 22. Christ also testifieth, that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent