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Not to know any minister according to the flesh; but to receive, and submit to what comes from the Spirit, in the Spirit. Not to know Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, but the Spirit ministering in them. Paul may err, Apollos may err, Peter may err, (and did err, when he compelled the Gentiles to live as the Jews, Gal. ii. 14.”—“And Barnabas also did err, ver. 13.) but the Spirit cannot err, ; and he that keeps to the measure of the Spirit in himself, cannot let in any of their errors, if they should err; but is preserved. For the least measure of the Spirit is true, and gives true judgment.”—
“ Secondly, care must be had the conscience be kept tender, that nothing be received but according to the light of the conscience. The conscience is the seat of faith; and if it be not kept close to the light which God lighteth there, faith is soon made shipwreck of."-" The great error of the age of the apostacy hath been, to set up an outward order and uniformity, and to make men's consciences bend thereto, either by arguments of wisdom, or by force ; but the property of the true church-government is, to leave the conscience to its full liberty in the Lord, to preserve it single and entire for the Lord to exercise, and to seek unity in the light and in the Spirit, walking sweetly harmoniously together in the midst of different practices. Yea, and he that hath faith, and can see beyond another, yet can have it to himself, and not disturb his brother with it, but can discern and walk with him aecording to his measure; and if his brother have any heavy burthen upon him, he can lend him his shoulder, and bear part of his barthen with him.”_56 And be tender with thy bro
ther's conscience, and be not instrumental to draw him into any thing which the Lord leads him not into, but rejoice if thou find him in simplicity of heart startling at any thing ; for if he abide here faithfully, his guide will in due season appear to him, and clear up his way before him ; but if he be too hasty, he may follow a wrong guide, and that guide will never lead him aright towards the kingdom, but intangle him further and further from it.-Oh! how many have run a whoring from the Lord ! How many have first lost the guidance of the Spirit, and then drowned their life in religious performances ! How many have drunk of the cup of fornication from the life, at the hands of the fleshly wisdom! How many have filled their spirit with New Testament idols and images,”—“ following the doctrines of men !” ,
'. Object. But is not uniformity lovely; and doth not the apostle exhort christians to be of one mind; and were it not a sweet thing if we were all of one heart and one way?
Answ. Yea, uniformity is very lovely; and to be desired and waited for, as the Spirit of the Lord which is one, leads and draws into one. But for the fleshly part, (the wise reasoning part in man,) by fleshly ways and means to strive to bring about fleshly uniformity, which insnares and overbears the tender conscience; this is not lovely, not spiritual, not christian. And the apostle who exhorts christians to be of one mind, yet doth not bid them force one another into one mind, but walk together sweetly so far as they had attained; and wherein they were otherwise minded, God in his due time would reveal
more to them.” (Philip. iii. 15, 16.) He that hath to him shall be given. And the intent and work of the ministry,” (with the several ministrations of it,” saith this worthy primitive teacher,) “is to bring into the unity, (Ephes. iv. 13,) as persons are able to follow.” “ And for being of one heart and one way, blessed be the Lord, this is in measure known and witnessed. The way is, ONE, Christ the truth of God; and that is in the faith, and in the obedience to that light which shines from his Spirit into the heart of every true believer, hath a taste of the one heart, and of the one way; and knoweth that no variety of practices, which is of God” (mark that can make a breach in the true unity.”-“ And the unity being thus kept, all will come into one OUTWARDLY also at length, as the light grows in every one, and as every one grows into the light; but this must be patiently waited for from the hand of God (who hath the right way of effecting it, and who alone can do it); and not harshly and cruelly attempted by the rough hand of man.”*
Happy then for millions of the human race, true worship of God, and true religion, do neither consist in set times, days, months, nor years, any more than in set forms, and liturgies, and ceremonies of religion. With respect to the first, our blessed Lord himself said when on earth," the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh
* Vide the works of the long-mournful and sorely distressed Isaac Penington, whom the Lord in his tender mercy at length visited, and relieved by the ministry of that despised people called Quakers, &c. p. 320---825. vol. I. in . .."
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such to worship hiin.” (John iv. 23.) “I am the good Shepherd, (says Christ,) and know my sheep, and am known of mine; they hear my voice, and they follow me.” (chap. X. 1-16.) And again, “ I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven: for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."4 (Mat. xviii. 19, 20.)
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With respect to the second, James, the immediate servant and disciple of our Lord, assures us that “ pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their afflictions, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (chap. i. 17.) Now, these spots of the world are easily known. "All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
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+ I should not, I believe, if I were able, takc upon myself the task to trace the true church through every age, since the death of the founders ; let those contend about the “succession of the true and genuine priesthood," and “ apostolic church," who may; but as Jesus Christ has promised to be with his church ---(where two or three are met, &c.) to the end of the world; and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; I have no doubt that he has always had such a church; and that the above also is the true church.-.“ a congregation of faithful people, met in Christ's name to worship God;" and such will preach, pray, or sing, as they are moved by Christ's holy Spirit. Hence the true church dignity, and true church government, as well as the beauty and grandeur of true church worship: and my lowly and mean habitation, or a barn or stable is as much “ the house of God," when so met, as any stately man-sion, or stupendous and magnificent steeple house in the world,
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And the apostle Peter is very plain in this matter; speaking on false teachers, by whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of, saith,—" chiefly them that walk after the flesh, in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government, presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.” (Like those that count it pleasure to riot in the daytime.) “ Spots they are, and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings, while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin ; beguiling unstable souls; an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children, which have forsaken the right way; and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam, the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness: but was rebuked for his iniquity; the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbade the madness of the prophet.” 2 Pet. ii. 10-17.
This important subject leads me to consider a few of the causes of what is generally called Sabbath-breaking ; but more particularly as it respects professor 8 “ taking their pleasure and visiting” on the first day, or Sabbath. The libertine and the wicked-those who spend that day set apart for public worshiping of God, in idleness and riotous living, are gross Sabbath breakers; and awful will their situation be at the day of judgment—the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone will be their portion! But the above has been a complaint, ever since I can remember, to this day ; by all pious ministers, both of the establishment and dissenters.
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