« VorigeDoorgaan »
of that practice, who cannot believe, nor be taught, in order to it; and therefore, not within the scope and direction of the text. If it should be said, 'that children may be as well baptized as circumcised;' I say, no: for faith was not so personally required to circumcision, as it is to baptism: nor are the covenants, or kingdoms the same, to which they refer; therefore an improper and unjust allusion. Upon the whole matter, we let fall the baptism of water, as John's, and not Christ's; therefore, not in contempt of a Christian ordinance, the Lord knows, but in honour of the Christian dipensation: and the rather, because of the great abuse of it; both sprinklers and dippers laying, as we apprehend, a dangerous stress upon it: as indeed they do upon the use of the Lord's-supper; far beyond signs, and as if they were the inward graces themselves; too often referring thither, rather than to the obedience of faith in Christ; and falsly quieting their uneasy minds under disobedience, and neglect of the cross of Jesus, with the performance of these outward signs of inward graces; the generality of them being but too barren of any true sign of the power of grace upon them.
But to that little he has said about the Lord's Supper, so called, I must say something before I close this treatise. He tells us.
Page 92. The same, in substance, may be said of the Lord's-supper as of baptism.'
Reply. Then the same, in substance, may serve in defence of the other. He adds,
'Christ celebrates it with his disciples, signifying, that his meaning was, they should perform this service at other times, after his death, by constraining them to do it in remembrance of him; which is a full institution of this ser vice.'
Reply. That which Christ celebrated, was the Paschal Lamb, or Passover, which he told his disciples, "he so much longed to eat with them." And this was the Jews' great anniversary supper, in commemoration of their forefathers' mighty deliverance from Pharaoh, and passing at night out of Egypt, towards the land that God had promised their father Abraham he would give to his offspring. And it was also the conclusion or winding-up of the course of our Saviour's life; the fulfilling of the shadowy ordinances and ministration he was born under (he being the antitype); at the close of which he was graciously pleased to intimate to them that unwelcome and uneasy news of his departure and death, by bidding them eat of that bread, and drink that cup; and to do the like, as a "memorial, or in remembrance of him," viz. his death, "until he came to them again."
He did thereby,
1. Inform them of his departure and death, by giving them a memorial of him; which was so hard for them to think of.
II. He tells them, that he will not leave them comfortless; he will come to them again; and he will drink new wine with them in the kingdom of his Father; which, in its due season, should be made manifest to them.
III. That they were to look to that coming, as an accomplishment of that memorial.
IV. That this must refer to his spiritual coming, as the bread of life; and that it was only to hold them up in their minority, whose weakness, incredulity, and doubting, were well known to him, and which, Luke xxiv. 11, 25. are enough observed: even after all they had heard and seen of the power of Christ.
That this practice lasted longer, I grant; but that it lasted of authority, I find not, but rather of weakness: signs generally have a resemblance of the things they signify or represent: there seems none, in any other respect, to me so proper and suitable, as of Christ being the bread that came down from heaven," John vi. and as such he came to his disciples some time after his ascension; for as yet they were, as before observed, in several respects weak, yea, carnal, and to be stirred up and instructed in sacred mysteries, by outward and sensible things.
Page 93. As to what this author says, that the apostle Paul had a commission to administer this sacrament,' 1 Cor. xi. 26. It is his mistake; for it was not a commission, but a tradition. He tells us what he received of the Lord's doings; but neither commands nor recommends it, only reproves indecency, and requires more respect in performing,
as often as they do it." But if that chapter be well read, the poor and mean condition of the people he writ to will be seen; to whom signs, well understood, might be of benefit. But that neither proves their continuance under the new covenant, nor their service to those that were come to discern well the Lord's body; what it is, and what it is made of; as chapter x. 15, 16, 17.
Pages 94, 95. But our adversary will have it, that Christ's coming is to judgment, at the end of all things; and until then, this sacrament, as he calls it, is to continue:" telling me, that when Christ said, he would not drink any more of the fruit of the vine, till he should drink it new, with them, in the kingdom of his Father, Christ indeed means it of a spiritual wine; but that the kingdom of his Father was heaven; and therefore the sign was not to cease, till that
kingdom began; which was not to be till Christ had delivered up the kingdom unto God, even his Father, at the end of the world,'
Reply. But he has forgot, surely, that in the same page he allows the kingdom of God was then among the Jews, though not in them; and so come before the end of the world. And if he would have called to mind the first sentence of John the Baptist's sermon, and the drift of the disciples' ministry, that Christ sent forth, he must have found that it was, "Repent, for the kingdom of God, or of heaven, is at hand," as Mat. iii. 2. and x. 7. Then, not so far off as the end of the world. Again, the apostle declared, Heb, xii. 22, 23, 24. the true believers of his day were "come to Mount Zion, to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made perfect;" and also, that they "sat in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;" which must be an attainment above signs of invisible grace; being the life and substance of religion, and so the period of consummation of types and shadows, and such sorts of signs or significations as are in question. They that personally enjoy their dearest friends will not repair to their pictures, (though drawn ever so much to the life) to quicken their remembrance of them.
Christ did promise his, that he would come again, he would not leave them comfortless, and that he would drink of the cup or fruit of the vine after a new, or other manner with them, even "in the kingdom of his Father." And in the Revelations, chap. iii. he makes an holy proclamation, as it were with an Oyez!" Behold," says he, "I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me. This, we are not ashamed to say, is our supper, or the supper of the risen and glorified Jesus, which the people called Quakers do acknowledge, profess, and practise as the Lord's-supper; the true gospel, new covenant supper: the supper of and in the kingdom of God; which is come up in thousands, blessed be his name! and is coming more and more among, and in the hearts of, the children of men. And though the seed of this kingdom be sown in all; yet the good ground alone knows it to grow to advantage. Those that obey the manifestation of the light of the Lord Jesus in their souls, the "seed of the kingdom," are the true and sensible witnesses of it: the government of their hearts and affections being upon his shoulders, according to that blessed promise, Isaiah ix. 5, 6, 7. And such can say, "Thy kingdom is come, and thy will is done in earth, as it is in heaven."
Even so come, Lord Jesus! more and more set up thy kingdom in the souls of the children of men; that the holy will of thy Father may be done in earth; that mercy and truth, righteousness and peace, may embrace and kiss each other; so shall the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ; who is God over all, blessed for ever.
FRUITS OF SOLITUDE,
REFLECTIONS AND MAXIMS
RELATING TO THE
CONDUCT OF HUMAN LIFE.
IN TWO PARTS.
Published in the Year 1693.
THIS enchiridion I present thee with, is the fruit of solitude: a school few care to learn in, though none instructs us better. Some parts of it are the result of serious reflection others, the flashings of lucid intervals: written for private satisfaction, and now published for an help to human conduct.
The author blesseth God for his retirement, and kisses that gentle hand which led him into it: for though it should prove barren to the world, it can never do so to him.
He has now had some time he could call his own; a property he was never so much master of before: in which he has taken a view of himself and the world; and observed wherein he hath hit and missed the mark: what might have been done, what mended, and what avoided in his human conduct: together with the omissions and excesses of others, as well societies and governments, as private families and persons. And he verily thinks, were he to live over his life again, he could not only, with God's grace, serve Him, but his neighbour and himself, better than he hath done, and have seven years of his time to spare. And yet, perhaps, he hath not been the worst or the idlest man in the world; nor is he the oldest. And this is the rather said, that it might quicken thee, reader, to lose none of the time that is yet thine.