Page images
PDF
EPUB

HIS was that fountain from whence originally it came. And as the life declared and preached forth itfelf through that holy body, so they who did then come to the benefit procured by the divine life, could only do it through an hearty confession to it as appearing in that body, and that from a sense first begotten by a measure of the same in themselves.

This is the main import of those places; " whom « God hath set forth to be a propitiation," and " in « whom we have redemption through faith in his " blood,a" For who is this be, whom God hath fet forth, and in whom is redemption? Certainly the same be that was before Abraham, the rock of the fachers, that cried, “ Lo, I come to do thy will, O God; a « body hast thou prepared me;b” which was long before the body was conceived and born. But may some say, "How is it then his blood ?' Why, just as the body is his body.

Those who had faith in that blood, believed his vi. fible appearance, inasmuch as they acknowledged that great seal and ratification of it, to wit, the shedding of the blood of his body, who came to save the world, and who alone is the propitiation, redemption, and salvation of all who had and have right faith in that appearance, and message so confirmed, and therefore so often expressed by it, as including all his whole life and sufferings besides. And this is my reason for it, that it was impossible for any man, in that day, to confefs to and believe in the divine light and life which appeared in that prepared body, but from the inward discoveries and operations of the divine light, with which Christ the Word-God, who took feth, had enlightened him.

However, though the apostles might then fo express themselves, thereby to assert and recommend unto the faith of all, that eminent and bleffed manifestation, and the great love of Christ therein, as the visitation of the heavenly life through that prepared

Rom. üi. 25.

Heb. X. 5, 7,

body,

body, and the deep sufferings of both for the world, being true and spiritual witnesses thereof; yet it was neyer intended that they should barely reft there, but press after the knowledge of Christ, by faith, in some. ching farther, and beyond that body in which he appeared, not excluding our belief in that too. They who knew Christ after the flesh, were to press after fome more spiritual discovery of him; and it was expedient that they, who almost doted upon his outward mani. festation, should be weaned from it, to the end his more interior, and indeed beneficial revelation of himself, might be witnessed by the soul.

Faith in his blood was requisite, that they might confess him, whofe body and blood it was, to be the CHRIST, who is God over all, blessed for ever; which was the great question with the Jews, - Whether God

was truly manifested in that body of flesh, which « they saw ?' So that the stress lies in confeffing to the Divinity come in the flesh; otherwise they would have rejected not only the most signal suffering of the whole manifestation, but consequently that itself. To conclude, we confess, he who then appeared, was and is the propitiation, &c. and in him was redemption obtained, by all those who had such true faith in his blood: but still it is to be understood, that there must be a witnessing of a measure of the fame light, spirit and power, to appear for the redemption of the soul from the pollution of sin, in each particular.

VIII. That justification came by faith in his blood, is clear in a sense; for by the law could no flesh be justified: that is, the law being added because of tranfgreffion, certainly the tranfgreffor could not be justified, whilf such, by that law which condemned him for being such. Which puts me upon distinguishing betwixt justification, as it is sometimes taken, viz. for remission, pardon, or forgiveness of fin paft upon repentance; and that justification which implies an acceptance with, and an access to, God, as a keeper of the law of the fpirit of life, which is to be made o inherently just, righteous, or holy.'

'. In the first sense, since all have finned, no man can be justified by the law be has transgressed: therefore that great favour and mercy of remission, pardon, and forgiveness, was only then generally preached in the name of Jesus, which such as believed in his message should obtain. Thus, « by the work of the law « shall no fesh be justified ;” because all the righteousness man is capable of, cannot inake satisfaction for any unrighteousness he hath committed ; since what he daily doth, is but what he daily owes. But still, such as keep the law are justified: for that a man should be condemned both for transgressing and keeping the law too, would be very hard. What shall we fay then, but that justification in the first fense, since Adam's day to this, hath been God's free love, upon repentance and above all, that by Christ's visible appearance and suffering, and in his name, was remissign, pardon, or forgiveness preached, or held forth to the whole world, upon their believing therein, more eminently than ever. . But in the last sense, no man can be justified, but as he is made just, and is found actually doing the will of God: that justifies; that is it which gives acceptance .with, and access to God. In this sense it was the apostle said, “ Such as are the doers of the law « shall be justified ;” and not from the guilt of what they formerly did against it by their after keeping it; for that is the free love of God alone, upon the repentance of the creature; which hath been in all former ages, but never so eminently held forth to the world, as by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh. ·

So that thus far we can approach the honefter fort of professors of religion; or rather, we were herein never at a distance from them, viz. "That men may « be reconciled, and in a sense justified, while sin may

not be totally destroyed :' that is, God, upon their repenting of paft sins, though not then clearly purged from the ground of evil, may, and we believe doth, remit, pardon, or forgive former offences, and is thus

far far reconciled: that is, he ceaseth to be angry, or at a distance from them, as when they went on in a state of disobedience to the light. Yet for ever we must affirm, that no man or woman can be made a child of God, but as the new birth, regeneration, and the divine and heavenly image comes to be witnessed, through the putting off the old man and his deeds, and being baptized, by the Holy Ghost and fire, into the one holy body, of which Christ, the immaculate Lamb of God, is Head and Lord. So that all those * who apply to themselves, or others, the promises due to this state, unto that before mentioned, heal themfelves or others deceitfully; and God will judge for those things. So let all people consider with fobriety and moderation, if the things we asfert are not most agreeable to the scripture, and that light of truth which is in their own consciences, unto which we most of all desire to be made manifest.

IX. Nor is this all the good the coming and sufferings of that blessed manhood brought unto the world: for having been enabled so effectually to perform the will of God, living; and having so patiently suffered the will of wicked men, dying; therein freely offering up his most innocent life for the world; he certainly « obtained exceeding great and precious gifts ;" which, as every man comes to believe in the light wherewith Christ Jesus hath enlightened him, and to be led by it, he shall assuredly feel a particular benefit to himself, accruing from that general one procured by Christ, who fo laid down his life for the world. - In short, as we cannot but acknowledge him a Saviour in that very manifestation, or coming in that prepared body, who appeared fo extraordinarily to visit the world with his marvellous light and truth, and to turn their minds from error and darkness, and who actually converted and reclaimed many, and endued his followers with his own heavenly light, life, and power, whereby to supply his exterior absence with a most lively, piercing and effectual ministry, for the completing of the rest from generation to ge.

neration; neration; so must we needs attribute this, chiefly, to the divine light, life, and power, that through the manhood, of both Lord and servants, shined forth and revealed itself to the salvation of the world.

Nor are we yet, as hath been often hinted to speak ftri&tly) to ascribe the particular salvation of every man's foul to the appearance of that fame light in nature, in either lord or servant (albeit many were reached into their very hearts and confciences at that time, and great and mighty things were generally procured, and Christ in that manifestation became the Author of salvation unto many); but rather, as he is the light of men individually, he both then did, and now doth, appear in the hearts and confciences of men, unto the awakening of them, and turning their minds from the darkness of tradition, formality, and fin, which had, and doth, overcast and darken the foul, unto that blessed light in men, that thereby (as to them) suffered, and doth yet suffer, so great and tedious an eclipse: I say, this is the efficient cause of falvation; and all other exterior visitations, and mis nistries of assistance, though from the fame light, are, in respect of the light in every single man or woman, but instrumental and secondary.

In this sense then, man is only a faviour instrumentally; but Christ, both with reference to his bodily appearance, and in the ministry of his servants, is the most excellent means, and the only efficient cause, of sale vation, as revealed and obeyed in the consciences of men. So that the question is not, Whether Quakers deny any benefit to redound by Christ's bodily fufferings? but, Whether the professors allow and acknowledge the main of the work to the divine life and light?

In short, he was a general Saviour in that eminent appearance at Jerusalem, in which he did so many great and good things for mankind; and he is an effectual Saviour to every particular perfon, as we find him in our hearts, an holy light, Ihewing fin, reproving for it, nd converting from it, into the holy nature of

the

« PreviousContinue »