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destroyed, and the creature of God's making preserved, the earthen vessel that holds the heavenly treasure sanctified and saved, and delivered from the yoke of bondage the whole creation of God groans under. And this thou shalt certainly arrive at, as thou keepest thy eye upon thy saviour, thy light, thy way, thy captain, whom thou wilt see go before thee conquering and to conquer, till all his and thy enemies are subdued, brought under, and destroyed, and thou made as a king, as a priest to God, meeker than Moses, stronger than Sampson, wiser than Solomon, and more patient than Job;* as thy elder brother was, and as the primitive Christians were, who could say, “ As he is, so are we in this present world,” pure as he is pure, holy as he is holy, righteous as he is righteous, harmless and innocent as he was, and in all resigned up unto the will of God: “Not my will (said the second Adam,) but thine,” though his will was as innocent and harmless as the first Adam was before the fall, and did excel. When thou comest up hither, thou wilt understand and receive what I say; till then it will be as a mystery and hard saying to thee.
And in thy way take heed of thinking, willing, and running, that obtains not the prize; stand still and see the salvation of God; mind above all, the arm of his power in thee, which is able to suppress thy thoughts, mortify thy will, stop thy running, and give thee perfect strength to resist the devil, and make him flee, and to furnish thee to every good word and work, and give thee dominion over thy own spirit, whose property is to be swift in thoughts, eager in desire, and restless in the accomplishment thereof.
Now it is written, he that hath rule over his own spirit is stronger than he that takes a city; and he that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, and without walls: when the righteous bears rule, the land rejoiceth; but when the wicked, the land mourneth.f These things are infallibly true; while the usurper keeps the throne, the prince of peace and his peaceable government are not known. Tribulation and anguish come upon every soul of man that doth evil, that thinketh and imagineth evil,s and that yields his members servants to unrighteousness, let his opinion, profession, and talk of religion be what they will:“he that commits sin is of the devil,” and without returning from it, a finishing or ending of it, and righteousness set up in the room thereof, will
Lest thou shouldst stumble at those sayings, consider that John was the greatest prophet that was born of a woman, yet the least in the kingdom was greater than he.
Consider the simile, and in the light try and compare thyself therewith, and thou wilt find the truth thereof.
* No opinion or profession of religion, &c. where evil thoughts and evil doings stand, avails any thing.
(with the devil) have the wages and reward of the same, and possess the fruit of his own thoughts and doings.
Now it is a heavenly estate to live under the government of Christ, to know and experience him swaying the sceptre in the heart, and established in the throne thereof: but this none comes to enjoy, till they have first known him to sit as a refiner with fire, and as a fuller with soap, and as a spirit of judgment and burning; and as the stronger man to dispossess the strong man, spoil all his goods, sweep and cleanse the house, and to furnish it again with heavenly goods, with heavenly thoughts, with heavenly desires and meditations, and all things else that become the house of the Lord. Holiness to the Lord was written or engraven upon the crown and plate of gold, and all the furniture of the outward temple was sanctified, of which this is the anti-type, or substance; as he that enjoys it well knows.
And now it is the duty of a Christian to watch in the light against evil thoughts, and to use the axe of God, which is laid to the root of them, that their springing again may be hindered, and the end of them prevented; so also it is the duty of every one, when good thoughts and desires spring in the room thereof, to cherish them, to join with them, and to keep his eye unto the Lord that begat them, or raised them up in the heart. And so they may be called God's thoughts, being of his ownbringing forth, of his own begetting; being thoughts of purity, thoughts of
peace and righteousness, thoughts of holiness and joy in the inward man, which thoughtsthou of thyself canst not think. These are comfortable thoughts, justifying and excusing thoughts, thoughts that will stand approved in the light, and the end and tendency of them is good, even as pleasant fruit to the soul;* so that such can say as David once did, “How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God, how great is the sum of them? If I should count them they are more in number than the sand; when I awake I am still with thee.” As thou lovest the light, and delightest in the law of God, and meditatest therein, these good thoughts will multiply and increase in thee, to thy great content and satisfaction. But the thoughts of the wicked are sin, and sin brings trouble, anguish, and torment;t men are accused or excused in their thoughts. It is said Belshazzar was so much troubled with his thoughts, that "his countenance was changed, and the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote together.” Dan. v. 6. Many are the amazing, scaring, tormenting thoughts that attend the wicked, “ whose feet run to do evil, and make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are
• Good thoughts are of God's own begetting; and very comfortable to a Christian, and are the fruit and effect of keeping and obeying the law of God within the heart. Rom. ii. 14, 15.
† Prov. xy. 26.
thoughts of iniquity, wasting and destruction are in their paths; the way of peace they know not, and there is no judgment in their goings,” &c. Isa. lix. 7, 8.
Now the thoughts of the righteous are right, and those that commit their way to the Lord, their thoughts shall be established. And that is a blessed state indeed, to have good thoughts established in the heart, in the mind;* such can go forth, and come in, in peace, lie down and rise up in peace, live and walk in peace, and praise the God of peace, who is blessed for evermore. And this is the peace, the inward peace, which the world, with all its treasures and pleasures, cannot give, nor by its frowns take away, and is the portion of all that get victory over their own thoughts, imaginations, lusts, desires, and affections; and that do also keep in the wisdom and power of God, that when good thoughts are established in them, and they are so made partakers of the divine nature that they naturally think good thoughts, thoughts of love, peace, and obedience, (as they did while in the degeneration think the contrary,) yet in this state of innocency and harmlessness to be diligent in the wisdom of God, to dress and keep the garden, lest thou having found honey, eat more than may suffice to nourish the right birth; lest thou feed thyself without fear, eat and drink and rise up to play,t grow idle and wanton, through plenty, and so forget the Lord, and let his benefits slip out of thy mind, and slight his commandments, and let pride and exaltation in thy selfish spirit grow up again, as the first Adam and others did, mentioned in the holy scriptures; which are written for our learning and admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come, 1 Cor. x. 11, therefore let him that thinketh he stands, take heed lest he fall.
Concerning the Life, State, and Enjoyment of a true Christian.
The life of a Christian, of an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile, is a life of innocency; peace and content, quietness and true satisfaction abound in the inward man. He is always doing well, so nonc can harm him; he always lives in the fear of God, which taught him to depart from iniquity, and now preserveth him out of the same. He loveth God and his neighbour, and hates no man, so fears not what man can do unto him ;f his bread is sure, and his water fails not, so he takes no
* The effect of good thoughts when established in the heart.
† Many may eat and drink unworthily, deck themselves with God's jewels, and play the harlot with them. # He that lives in the love, fear, and favour of God, needs not fear men nor devils.
thought for to-morrow, but receives every day his daily bread from the Lord; he liveth without care, neither doth he toil or spin; the lilies' life he knows, which Solomon in all his wisdom and glory wanted, or was not arrayed with. If he hath wife or children, house or land, or the increase of corn, wine, and oil, he looks upon them as things below, so doth not set his heart and affection upon them; he looks upon them as they are, and loves them in their places, but not more than Christ. He loves the Lord above all, he loves to keep his conscience void of offence towards God and towards man, above all; and if he cannot enjoy his estate and relations according to the will of God, he is ready and willing to part with them, and can say as Job did, “ The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” He is not afraid of evil tidings, the rutlling of the winds and the roaring of the sea do not amaze nor affright him; he lives the life of faith, which gives him victory, and enables him to overcome all things; he keeps on the helmet of it, and the breast-plate of righteousness, and the sword of the spirit,* so is always armed against all assaults of the world, flesh, and the devil; and he knows the name of the Lord as a strong tower, as a shield, as a buckler, as a wall of defence, and is prepared to suffer and endure all things, like a good soldier, with a settled countenance, and holy resolution. And though by men he may be accounted smitten and forsaken of God, and not fit to live upon the earth, yet he enjoys heavenly consolation, pure tranquillity of mind, refreshment, comfort, and joy in the inward man. “ The king's daughter is all glorious within," and all things that do, or can befal a Christian on this side the grave, are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is and shall be revealed in him.f And if there was no reward on the other side the grave, he would not exchange his life and condition, for all the glory, riches, and excellency the world can afford, seeing and accounting it all“ vanity and vexation of spirit; yea, less than nothing, and lighter than vanity.” Isa. xl. 17. Psalm, lxii. 9. Having found the precious pearl, (which the swine regard not,) he is willing to part with all for it; knowing the wonderful virtue, riches, and power thereof, he bids adieu to all the fading treasures and pleasures of Egypt; choosing rather to suffer afliction and persecution for righteousness’ sake, than to enjoy the court pleasures of princes. And he is a great gainer hereby, even in this life, on this side the grave, a hundred fold: he finds by experience that saying true, “Godliness with content is great gain, and is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.'» 1 Tim. iv. 6.
* The true Christian stands always armed; though not with carnal weapons.
† The present enjoyment of the favour and countenance of God, is more esteemed, more valued by the true Christian, than all things visible.
So though the true Christian seems in the judgment of the wise in their own conceit, to lose the enjoyment of his life, honour, riches, profit, pleasure, preferment, relations, &c. instead thereof he finds them all; and in the true self-denial enjoys them all,* and is able to say as Paul did to the Corinthians, speaking of himself and other Christians, sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things; having learned to be content in all estates and conditions, knowing how to suffer want, and how to abound, every where, and in all things," &c.f And where there is true content, there is no want, no poverty, no sorrow, but what is turned into plenty, riches, and rejoicing. In sum, the true christian hath found the stone of the wise men, or the universal tincture or medicine which cureth all inward diseases of the soul, mind, and spirit; makes him sound and clean every whit; works mighty wonders for him; makes him more precious than gold, yea, than fine gold; makes him rejoice in sorrow, sing in the stocks; makes a dungeon a palace, bonds and chains liberty; makes poverty riches; turns loss into gain, darkness into light before him. These and many more are the virtues and powerful operations of the precious pearl,f the white stone, the elect and precious stone, the chief corner stone, which the wise master-builders set at naught and stumble at, and will not use in their building; but to the Christian indeed, he is precious, he is his foundation, corner, and top-stone also, and as a treasure better than mountains of gold, and as a rock out of which issueth the water of life, that makes the river of pleasure, that never ceaseth running at the right hand of God. These things are known and enjoyed by the true Christian, as he arrives at the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and all that are but travellers therein, taste of the same in the way thereto; but the bare professor, or formalist, or titular Christian, knows nothing hereof.
For the life, riches, and enjoyment of a Christian, are inward and hidden; his life is hid with Christ in God, none knoweth it but he that hath it; his conversation is with God in heaven, and his treasure is làid up where he walks and dwells, and where he sits in heavenly places with his saviour Christ Jesus, who is made unto him wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. And not only so, but he is come to see what is “ the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God:” he is come to know “the Lord one, and his name one,” to the “ one body, one spirit, one hope, one faith, one baptism,” one way, one truth, one life, “ one God and Father
* No true enjoyment of any thing, but in the will of God, and true self-denial. + Content, the pleasant companion for a Christian.
# The wonderful riches, virtue, power, and operation of the precious pearl, none knows but he that hath it.