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Lord;' but when they preached, they spake as the oracles of God, according to the measure and ability that he gave, and used the holy men's words and sayings, as they were brought to their remembrance, and opened upon their minds by the Spirit of truth, which spake in them. This was, and this is, the true and only ministration of the gospel of Christ. We must be still, and silent before the Lord, and wait for the drawings, movings, openings, and influences of his Holy Spirit, and feel the constrainings of his power, and his word, to be as a fire in our bosoms, so as to be under a necessity of speaking; or else the testimonies and declarations, whether of men or women, though never so full of Scripture words and expressions, or beautified with the paint of art and learning, will be but as empty noise and dead sounds, and bring a dryness and deadness upon the hearers. But when men and women are true waiters, and come forth as they have received from the Lord, there life is felt in their ministry, by those whose hearts are quickened by the same Spirit, and truth is witnessed to, and the heavenly treasure is known in the earthen vessels.
"Our duty in hearing the true ministers of Jesus Christ, is to wait in silence before the Lord, and to turn our minds directly to Christ our inward and heavenly teacher, and to men's and women's testimonies and declarations, as they spring from the pure fountain of life in him, and answer the witness of the seed of God, livingly rising in our own consciences, and agree with those faithful sayings and testimonies, which proceeded from the same power, spirit, and life, and are recorded in the Holy Scriptures of truth. There are diversities of openings and gifts, in the ministers of Jesus Christ, and some have larger than others; but the life is the same in all, because the openings and gifts are from the same Spirit. When the life is not felt by and through the ministry of Christ's true ambassadors, the fault is not in the instruments; but in us, whose minds straggle from the power, which ministers in and through the instruments. When we keep to the life and power in our own hearts, the testimony of God in the meanest of his servants, will be livingly felt by us; but when we attend not to the life and power in our own hearts, then we are apt to complain of deadness in the instruments; but the deadness is in ourselves. Therefore we should be upon our watch, that we wander not from the life and power in our own souls, and be not carried away by the enemy's subtlety, who waits to deprive us of the blessing of a precious opportunity."
During the early times of his convincement of the truth, as held by the people called Quakers, as well before, as after he came forth in the ministry among them, he was visited at times by many of them, in a friendly manner, namely, Francis Camfield, George Whitehead, John Field, John Butcher, Aaron Atkinson, Thomas Story, Gilbert Molleson, William Widdowson, George Chalkley, Thomas Napp, John Bowater, Samuel Waldenfield, Mary Gulson, and several others. These were as instruments in the hand of the Lord, to the edifying and strengthening him in the faith. Himself having taken particular notice of some of those visits in writing, we think it not amiss to mention the same.
On the 28th of the Eighth Month, 1697, Francis Camfield, an ancient grave and weighty person, gave him a visit; of which his own account says thus.
"Francis Camfield's visit was very comfortable and refreshing. He said, 'We that knew something of the work of the Lord, should be instruments in the hand of the Lord, to edify one another in our most holy faith.' And he spake as the oracles of God, with great power and authority, and not as the Scribes. I felt that life by which this ancient disciple, and faithful minister of Christ spake. He said, It was a great thing to know a being purged from our old sins, and to know the holy war. 'All true Christians,' said he, 'are come into this holy war; and as they are kept in their watch, and waiting before the Lord, so they are helped against the enemy, not only to resist, but to overcome him.' He exhorted, to wait in the strength of the Lord, and to take heed of making haste, but to be still before him in the measure of the gift given and to wait for the Lord's openings. I accompanied him to his house in Bartholomew-Close, about eight of the clock, and returned home much comforted in the Lord through his visit."
George Whitehead and John Field also visited him, on the 16th of the Ninth Month, the same
year, and had much discourse with him. He recounted unto them the various dealings of the Lord with him, through the several stages of bis past life; and was by them, and particularly by George Whitehead, encouraged to continue faithful, and to go on in the way of the Lord.
On the 23d of the same month, Aaron Atkinson, Thomas Story, and Gilbert Molleson, came to visit him, and stayed some hours; with them he had a great deal of Christian discourse, to his soul's consolation. Aaron Atkinson was at that time under the drawings of the Lord, to visit the seed of God in the plantations of America, and intended, by the Lord's permission, within a few days, to embark for the voyage: Richard Claridge earnestly desired his prosperity in the work of the Lord, a prayer sprang in his heart to God, for his safe passage over the deep waters, and that the Lord would bless his ministry and service with success.
Timothy Burberrow, of Ainoe, near Banbury, visited him, on the 16th of the First Month, 1697, with whom, he says, he had a very comfortable conference, to the great refreshing of his soul; and gives this character of him, That he was an ancient and a good man, full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith.
On the 4th of the Second Month, 1698, Richard Claridge being cited to appear before the lieutenancy at Hicks's-Hall, for not sending a man to serve among the trained-bands, took occasion from thence to
commit his sense of that matter to writing, being as follows: namely,
"The Lord having convinced me of his blessed Truth, and brought me into the kingdom of the dear Son of God, which is an holy, peaceable kingdom, wherein the swords are turned into plough-shares, and the spears into pruning-hooks, and the weapons of my warfare are not carnal, but spiritual; I testify against all fighting, and killing, and bearing of carnal weapons, for the destroying of men's lives, both in myself personally, and sending a man in my room or stead. By the holy law of Jesus, I am commanded to love all men, even my enemies; and then, not to use any weapon to destroy them: for thus saith the Lord Jesus Christ, 'Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other,' Luke, vi. 27, 28, 29. They who are in Christ's kingdom, in the peaceable, holy, evangelical nature, have love and good-will towards all men, and seek and endeavour the preservation of them: My kingdom,' saith Christ to Pilate, 'is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence,' John, xviii. 36."
On the 22d of the Fifth Month, 1698, John Gale, who had formerly been his scholar, and by him grounded in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and then sent by his father to Leyden, in Holland, to study philology and philosophy, being lately returned from thence, came to visit him. He brought with him an Hungarian, a man learned in philosophy and languages. This man and Richard Claridge had a conference in Latin (for he could not speak English) about religion.
The Hungarian declared himself to be of that called the reformed religion.
R. C. told him, There were many sects among those who went under the denomination of the reformed, as Calvinists, Lutherans, Arminians, and
the like: which of these did he profess himself to be of?
The Hungarian answered, He most inclined to the Calvinists.
R. C. asked him, What was the prime rule and judge of matters in religion?
The Hungarian answered, The Scriptures.
R. C. replied, That was the prime rule and judge of matters in religion, which was certain and infallible, and was the rule and guide of the saints in all ages, even before the Scriptures were written; and that was the Spirit, and the immediate teachings thereof. Richard Claridge also signified to him, that he had an high esteem of the Holy Scriptures, because they were given forth by inspiration of God, and were able to make wise unto salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ; and did own them to be a rule in their place, that is, an inferior or secondary rule; but the Spirit from whence they derived their authority, was, and is the superior or primary rule.
The Hungarian said, There was none other rule of faith and practice but the Scriptures, the Spirit enlightening and assisting our understandings in the interpretation of them; so that he did not set up the Scriptures, exclusive of the Spirit, as some have done, but made them the rule as expounded by the Spirit.
R. C. asked him, What rule they had, who had no Scripture for their guide, as Job, Elihu, and others?
The Hungarian answered, Job had Scripture.
The Hungarian alleged, That of Job, vi. 10. "I have not concealed the words of the Holy One."