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2 Tim. iv. 7, 8, he had fought a good fight, finished his course, and kept the faith, and was assured he should receive a crown of righteousness.
W. H. raised another objection against perfection, from the words of John, If we say, that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us, 1 John, i. 8.
R. C. answered, The apostle explains himself in ver. 10, If we say that we have not sinned; for John had sinned as well as others: therefore when he says, verse 8, if we say we have no sin, it is not to be understood that he, and the saints he writes to, were then sinners; but that they had been such. It is a phrase, or mode of speaking in the present tense, but not of the present time; but manifestly relates to what was past, as verse 10 expresseth it, If we say that we have not sinned. Thus James, speaking of the tongue, says, It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison; therewith bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God, James, iii. 8, 9. But though he speaks in the present tense, yet his words must be expounded in the time past; for is it to be supposed that James, and the saints to whom he wrote, were all this time cursers of men, that bore the image of God? No, surely; he speaks of man in the fall, and not yet turned to the light, which leadeth out of all sin. And this is clear, from the following words, in verse 10, My brethren, these things ought not so to be; where he reproves that wicked practice of cursing men, and therefore is not to be thought guilty of it himself.
W. H. returned to the point of justification, and argued very earnestly for imputative righteousness, and said it was before sanctification, charging
R. C. with excluding Christ's sufferings and death, from our justification.
R. C. showed him his mistake in this, and testified largely to the sufferings and death of Christ, and showed him how, and when we came to share in them, namely, when sanctified, quoting that in Heb. x. 14, By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
W. H. was at length so far convinced, as that he acknowledged, that we have no personal benefit by the sufferings and death of Christ, without sanctification. They parted very lovingly.
On the 24th of the Eighth Month, this year, as is hinted before, he first publicly declared the truth in a meeting of the people called Quakers, being at Sarah Sawyer's in Aldersgate Street. His testimony tended to recommend a broken and a contrite spirit, to the debasing of self, and magnifying the grace of God, that had turned him from darkness unto light, and enabled him to testify of his goodness from a living experience.
About this time, he wrote somewhat very observable, concerning testimonies, and hearing Friends in the ministry; namely,
"The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,' 2 Pet. i. 21. They waited in silence for the openings of the word of life, and when they had received of the Lord, then they declared and delivered. The true prophets did not say to the people, Hear the word of the Lord;' except the Lord had first spoke immediately to them. And the apostles of Christ did not preach in their own wills, nor from their own reading and premeditation; but they spake as the Spirit gave them utterance. They did not take the prophets' words, which were recorded in the Old Testament (as it is called), and cry, 'Thus saith the
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 his 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