To Friends in New-England, or where this may come, Greeting.
IN your meeting together, and attending at the foot-stool of the Altar, waiting to be fed with the Bread of Life, which through death to all things that the carnal mind hath fed upon, or delighted in, either in corruption or birth, either in thought or acti∣on, whether things in Heaven, or things in Earth; for verily all old things must be dissolved before the eternal Spirit, which as a de∣vouring fire and everlasting burning, is now entred into the Regions of the Earth, and hath manifested it self unto you, that thereby you might profit, and be had and instructed in the way of holiness, and as an earnest of the glorious Inheritance, that never fades away, hath from time to time ministred comfort, joy, and peace in the holy Place within the Vail, as you have patiently waited, through pangs of death, to the old nature, and in meekness and content, when darkness was over the Land, have indured the shaking of the Earth, and ter∣rible rending of the Vail. I say, as you, in any measure, have come through these things, even so in measure have every one of you tasted of the Bread of Life, and hidden Manna which within the Ark is laid up for all the followers of the Lamb, through great Tri∣bulations, which plentifully you will meet withal in the worldly Re∣gions, both within and without. And although, my dear Friends, the fruits of Sodom and Egypt, as they do outwardly appear in many, as pride, wantonness, revilings, and the like, are done away; yet you will find many dangerous and hurtful lusts, arising out of the nature of spirtual Sodom within, which will strongly assault you Page 197 when the light of the Sun is but a little withdrawn, and passing un∣der a cloud; through which if ye wait patiently for the next appear∣ance, it will shine more glorious and higher than before. Yet di∣vers wayes will the enemy of your soul appear at such a time, to draw you aside from the hope of the Gospel, and expectation of injoying the righteousnes and heavenly treasure, which therein was revealed, when the glorious Light in full power shined in the earthen Vessel, and will strive to make void all that you have received, as the earnest of the purchased Possession; by presenting before you the hardness of the way, and bringing to mind, things you were formerly in bond∣age to; yea, and to tell you, ye may eat and not die. These things and more unutterable, will the spirit, (whose progresse is to and fro in the earth) present to your view, and feed the carnal withal: yet be∣hold them all in the Light Eternal, and in their most glorious ap∣perance, they are all but dust, which is his own meat, whom you are to resist steadfastly in the power of the Spirit of Faith, which over∣comes the World; and remember how the Lord did deliver you won∣derfully in your former journeys, wherein you perfectly saw the naked Arm of Gods salvation; and He remaines the same in Himself, yesterday, and to day, and for ever; although the enemy, while the cloud was over the Ark, (for that is his time to work) goeth a∣bout, in the airy part, seeking whom he may devour, did strongly tempt to prevail, as if you were in the wilderness of sin, to lead you back again, in your hearts, into spiritual Egypt; for it is within he thus subtilly works; and I well knowing it, cannot forbear to exhort you in the clean fear of the Lord God, that you with the eye of your mind, retyred out of all things visible, there to wait still and quiet, and ceasing from all self-working, may with meeknesse receive Pow∣er, Might, Dominion, and perfect Strength, against all that ever the enemy did appear in; and in this condition of the free saving Grace of God, which is appeared for your Deliverance and Teacher, you may learn to grow from grace to grace, into the knowledge of the wonderful works of God, which your forefathers saw, and many things happened them for our Ensamples, and are written for our learning Spiritually, and the same way you are to travel, as they did who were baptized into Moses, and so pro∣ceeding, you will find the same spiritual meat, from the least to the greatest of you; and he that gathereth most, will have none over; and behold I testifie (as the least among many Brethren) that Page 198 he that gathereth little hath no lack, but in his father's house feeds on the Bread of Life; the nourishment and vertue of it will make the least, as strong as David, and give power over all spiritual enemies, though every one in the Camp were as great as Goliah. And thus to this day hath the Lord preserved me in the Power of the endless Life, where, like a Beacon on a Hill, the Watchers fired and filled with Zeal to give others warning of the nigh approaching of the Enemy, who lyes lurking in the nature of Transgression, ready upon all opportunities to appear in evil thoughts, lusts, &c. and so to de∣sile the Temple, if not resisted in the first motion. And as the Crea∣ture gives way to the Temptation of the Destroyer, he will grow cold, and his Zeal towards God, and love to his People will wither, and sometimes be hardly drawn to their Assemblies; And all this while he may walk under covert of an outward profession of Truth, yet grow not at all; for having joyned with that in the motion, although not brought forth into the act that hides from the presence of the Lord, and keeps from sweet Nourishment of the Vine, which cau∣seth all that abides in it to bring forth fruit; as the heat of the Sun causeth the tender herb to spring. And whoever comes into this condition, the single Eye discerns him, and the Faithful goes about mourning, and saying, How have such desiled the Bed of Virgi∣nity, who once in a great measure had escaped the Corruptions that are in the World through lust; and although I am perswaded better things of you, yet my Beloved Friends, who are dear unto me, as you abide in that which crucifies you to the World, wherein I dearly ex∣hort you to abide, as it ariseth in you, and put it on as a garment of of Righteousness, wherein from faith to faith you may passe on, and so preach Righteousness, to the old World, and in it you will be pre∣served, as in an Ark, from the Destruction, like a flood, that will assuredly come upon the World of Ungodly: And in all your tryals and troubles, look and wait for the Power that once delivered you, and again and again it will deliver you from the power of the Dogg, and work mightily in you; that with willing mind you deny all for its sake, until the Image of the Beloved be formed in you, and you in Him, where in Love ye will be accepted, and the knowledge of his Mystery, manifested in flesh, in every measure of it, is and will be so far above all the Glory, Treasure, and Pleasure of the Land of Darkness, that it will wholly take the Meditations out of them, as if they were not worth the minding no more than drosse or dust; yea, Page 191 or whatsoever else may attend or can come upon those that follow the Light, as Persecution, Distress, Affliction, Famine, Nakedness, Perils in the Wilderness, in the Sea, in the City, yea, or Death it self; I am perswaded that Gods Armour of Light, as it is lived in and loved, will preserve them. And I further testifie in the Fear of the Lord God, and witness with a Pen of Trembling, That the noise of the Whip on my Back, all the Imprisonments and Banish∣ing upon pain of Death, and after returning, the loud threatning sound of an Halter from their mouths, who, Jezebel-like, sate on the Imperious Throne of Iniquity, did no more affright me, through the strength of the Power of God in me, than if they had threatned to have bound a Spiders Web to my Finger; which makes me say with unfeigned lips, Wait upon the Lord, O my soul for ever, who hath made known unto me his loving-kindness, when I even thirsted for Him, and kept my feet upon the Rock, whilst the raging Waves of the Sea went over my back; whilst for the Truth and Cause of God's People I have been freely offered up, and am not at all straightned to be baptized for the dead, whether into Death, or otherwise; following his Example, who laid down his Life for his Enemies: And herein the Record in Heaven knows I lye not, and the Witness in Earth is bearing Wit∣ness to me, that I yet do not (as I have not hitherto) seek to with∣draw my Cheek from the Smiter, nor to turn aside my feet from the footsteps of the Flock; as witness this Chain and Log at my Leg: but do desire, so far as the Lord draws me, to follow my sore∣fathers and Brethren in Suffering and in Joy: Wherefore my spirit waits and worships at the feet of Emmanuel, unto whom I commit my Cause, who may work my bodies deliverance; if not, yet the Freedom, Peace, Joy and Patience, which in the midst of trouble I have enjoyed, and I believe shall continue from Him, shall fully satisfie me; for which let my soul, and all that is within me, praise him for ever and ever. And I shall continue my Exhortation to you, earnestly desiring ye may wait to feel the Love and Life of God flow in your particular Vessels, and therein watch over and serve one another; and let the Strong and Faithful among you dwell in the Power, that he may have a Garment ready to cover the Nakedness of the Weak; and if the Tares at any time appear, let Wisdom and the Spirit of Meekness be alwayes used to separate the Page 192 Tares from the Wheat, both in the ground and off-spring, that the bearer may clearly see it, and then if he will not put in his sharp∣threshing Instrument to cut them down, his blood will be required at his hands, and with compassion pour Oyl into the wounds of the wounded, and bring them into the house where Salvation is; for the hope of Glory in you is come to save that which was lost; so the Plant of God will grow, the Thorns and Thistles will be cut down, and the Ground cleansed that the Course may be no more; and if the Weeds should appear again, let them still be trodden down and broken off the Root, and in time you shall see them dye at the Root, and then the Plant of Renown, the Stem of the Root of Jesse within its seed and beginning, may truly be resembled to the little Mustard∣seed, which will grow and prosper, and be watered with the dew of Heaven, which, like soft drops of Balm, will gently fall on the branches thereof; as Patience working unto Perfection, waits to en∣ter at the door of Life, without climbing one step to satisfie the Lion of greedy desire, but let it suffer hunger, yea and death also, through which you will find entrance into the green and pleasant Pastures of the Folds, where you shall feed as the Herd in the low Valeys of Achor, the entrance thereof will be a Door of Hope in the day of your greatest need and spiritual hunger, when Experience and Hope is added to your Patience: And at the Threshold theroof I leave all that hunger and thirst after Righteousness to enjoy the Desire of their Souls.
Boston-Prison in New-England, 1660.
This was given forth about three months before he suffered, and was copyed by W. Coddington of Rhoad Island.