« PreviousContinue »
A third experience which satisfies believers that Jesus is the true Christ is this: Whenever they are convinced of their sin, and guilt stares them in the face, there is nothing in heaven or earth that can give them ease till they get as it were their sins nailed to the cross of Christ, and this I have frequently found in my experience; and having washed in the fountain of Christ's blood, I have found joy and peace in believing, and this satisfieth me that Jesus is the very Christ.
A fourth experience is this, That glorious Christ, according to his promise, to this very time does manifest himself to some, otherways than he does to the world; and this I have found, when he has drawn by [aside] the vail, and shown me all the perfections of God shining bright in the face of Jesus, so as I have been made to call him the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God, and have found these displays of his glory always inclining me to live the more so "as to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, and to study to have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man." Yea, by these manifestations have I been encouraged to continue with him in his tentations, and with cheerfulness take up his cross and follow him through all discouragements, and have found his consolations so sensible and strong, so supporting and rejoicing under the sorest affliction, that it proves to me that Jesus, whose name is like ointment poured forth, to me is indeed the true Christ, though strangers intermeddle not with this joy.
In the last place, If Jesus were not the true Christ, these absurdities would necessarily follow:
First, That all the miracles wrought by him, and in his name, were wrought by the power and policy of Satan; but how absurd is this to imagine that the devil would work miracles to confirm a doctrine so opposite to, and destructive of, his kingdom of darkness?
2dly, That God had bestowed his incommunicable perfections upon an impostor, to make him capable of deceiving the world, which would be the grossest blasphemy to allege.
Therefore, it is sufficiently proven that Jesus is the true Christ. The reasons why this is so fully proven seem to be:
First, Because this true Christ is God as well as man; and this being a great mystery, it is the more fully confirmed by God: "Great is the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh;" therefore was it so necessary that he should be justified by the Spirit in the working of miracles, accomplishing predictions, carrying the gospel through the world, and doing good to souls thereby.
2dly, It was fit that this should be so well proven, because of the great superstructure that was to be built hereon; for on this liock, Christ being the true Messiah and Son of God, has he built his Church, and u the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
3dly, It is sufficiently proven, because of the great opposition that should be made against it. This was early and strongly opposed from the beginning, and the spirit of error did soon appear, as Peter declares, 2d Epistle ii. 1, "But there were false prophets among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." And this spirit of error is now coming in like a flood, and the dragon spewing out of his mouth many heresies to drown the woman and the man child; but the Spirit of Truth has lifted up a standard against error hitherto, and will yet do it; for though many are now making war with the Lamb, yet the Lamb shall overcome them, "for he is King of kings, and Lord of lords," and they that are and will be with him, and will earnestly contend for him, "are called, chosen and faithful."
Now, dear children, seeing God has sufficiently proven that Jesus is the true Christ, and that his doctrine is from God, and he the promised Messiah and great Saviour of the world, and seeing this is so fully proven, that we might believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that they who do not believe may be inexcusable, O will ye beg of God to help you to believe all that is so clearly revealed concerning Christ, and see that ye fly to him for your city of refuge? It is proven that he is Christ, therefore venture your souls on this rock of salvation; and O see that ye name the name
of Christ so as to depart from iniquity. O welcome the Anointed of the Father as your Prophet, Priest, and King, and every day search the Scriptures, which testify of this Christ, and see ye live to him, and study to know your interest in him; and if ye do his will, ye shall know that his doctrine is of God. Now, as this meditation which the Lord helped me to, has been both many times refreshing and establishing to my soul, I wish the Lord make it so to you.
My dear children, my strength failing me, and my earthly house hastening to be dissolved, I shall not add any more of these meditations, which have been very sweet to me, excepting in so far as they fall in with my last advices to you, and which I shall give you with dying breath and care, as follows:—
First, Set apart some time every day for reading God's word; read it with observation, depending on God to make it useful to your souls; compare Scripture with Scripture, as my custom was, and meditate therein both day and night, and see you study to think, speak, and act, according to the law of liberty, by which ye shall be judged.
2dly, Beg of God to let you see your lost state by nature and practice before it be too late.
3dly, Fly to the city of refuge with all speed, and close with Christ as your Prophet, Priest, and King, who came to seek and save them that were lost, for "there is no other name given under heaven by which we can be saved."
4thly, Learn to live by faith, in all the various acceptations in which faith is taken in the word of God.
1. Believe that God is, and that he is a rewarder of all those who diligently seek him, Heb. xi. 6.
2. Believe all that is written in the Scripture to be the word of God, Acts xxiv. 14.
3. Believe all the mysteries of the Christian religion revealed by God, though at present ye cannot comprehend them, but in your dark and depraved state, are ready to cry out, "How can these things be 7"
4. Believe firmly that God will in due time fulfil his faithftil promise, though never so many dispensations of providence should seem to stand in the way thereof, Rom. iv. 18, 19, 20, 21.
5. Live hy faith so as to trust in God as your all-sufficient help, when all outward help and comfort are far out of sight, Hab. iii. 17.
6. Live hy faith, so as to renew your choice of Christ daily, and trust on him alone for complete salvation, as made of God unto you wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, giving him employment in all his offices and relations, John i. 11, 12; Gal. ii. 20.
7. Live by faith, so as to depend on God's fatherly care, for food to eat and raiment to put on, Luke xii. 22, to the 29th verse.
8. So live by faith, as to be stedfast in the faith, adhering closely to the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, and the whole doctrine of Christianity, in your several stations, contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, Jude 3.
My meditation on this of living by faith has been useful to my 60ul; may it be so to yours.
Now, O live by faith, dear children, for without it, it is impossible to please God, Heb. xi. 6. Without it, you must die in your sins, John viii. 24. Without this, dark dispensations of Providence will make you stagger at the promise, and cry out with Mary, Luke i. 34, "How can these things be? ' Without faith, all outward help will fail you, Acts xxvii. 20; and it is only by faith you can look on things not seen by the bodily eye, " even the things which are eternal," 2 Cor. iv. 18.
5thly, I advise you to choose affliction rather than sin, and suffering when called thereto, rather than deny the faith, or make a shipwreck of a good conscience; you know not what fiery trials you may yet meet with for righteousness' sake. Though Jerusalem has been by Zion's God made a quiet habitation for near forty years, yet we may say the bellows are burned, the lead consumed in the fire, and the founder melteth in vain, for the filthy are filthy still; so that God may yet again set up his furnace in Zion, and heat it seven times more, till he purge away the filth of the daughters of Zion.
Now, dear children, if the Lord of Hosts come as a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap, who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth? Be stedfast and immoveable, strong in the faith, and quit yourselves like men; be valiant for the truth upon earth, and the truth shall make you free ; depend on God, who gives not only to believe but to suffer for his name, and he will help you to continue with him in his tentations; thus shall ye have the testimony of a good conscience, which all your adversaries shall not be able to rob you of, and if ye suffer with him, ye shall also reign with him, and your light affliction, which will be but for a moment, shall work for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. I must own to his praise and glory that God dealt well with my soul when he led me into the wilderness, and as I escaped the sword of the enemy, so I found grace in the wilderness; yea, during my nine years' suffering, I was much filled with joy and peace in believing; I was made to take joyfully the spoiling of my goods, and with pleasure for his name's sake wandered in deserts and in mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. I lay four months in the coldest season of the year in a hay-stack in my father's garden, and a whole February in the open fields not far from Camragen, and this I did without the least prejudice from the night air: one night, when lying in the fields near to the CarrickMiln, I was all covered with snow in the morning. Many nights have I lain with pleasure in the churchyard of Old Daily, and made a grave my pillow; frequently have I resorted to the old walls above the glen, near to Camragen, and there sweetly rested. And as God was very kind by night and day to my soul, so he preserved me from the fear of Satan—the enemy did not molest or affright me in my solitary hiding-places; yea, the Lord assured me that he had made for me a covenant with all the beasts of the field, so that I was not afraid to sleep in those very places where poisonous creatures did most frequently resort, neither received I at any time the least prejudice from them, or any of the beasts of the