TEXTS FROM ENGLISH RELIGIOUS HISTORY
Flavel, The Quaker, and the Crown
An account of the Quaker, Clement Lake, and his correspondence with John Flavel
Something by way of Testimony concerning
This is that we have to say concerning our deceased Friend, Clement Lake of Crediton; He was a man of an innocent upright life and conversation, very tender hearted and affectionate towards the Truth and them that walked in it. He at first received Truth in the love of it, and continued to the end faithful to its testimony through all the exercises he met with; for in the time of his Convincement he met with no small opposition and exercise from and by the wife of his own bosom, and also suffered imprisonment with Friends for the testimony of truth, all which he bore with patience and meekness, in a humble mind submitted unto God's will; and in due time it pleased God through the Spirit of the Lamb to give him the victory and dominion over that which stood in his way: he was diligent in frequenting Friends Meetings to wait upon God, though outwardly a man attended with much weakness and infirmness of body, and many times being filled with a deep sense of the love of God unto his soul and his heart tendered and broke thereby, his mouth was opened to magnify and praise the Lord and tell by experience of the goodness of God unto his soul. In short we are generally well satisfied concerning him, that he was a man that did truly fear God, love truth and righteousness, bore a faithful testimony until death; his conversation was a good favour to all in his day; and now being removed from us, we believe its well with him, and he has his reward, viz. the crown of life and peace, and is at rest in the Lord.
John Coltworthy, Robert Ellis, Peter Richards, Robert Ford
The Testimony of Phillip Dicker, concerning Clement Lake
A true testimony and account concerning the life and blessed end of that faithful servant of the Lord, Clement Lake. This I can truly say from a sense I had of him, that I believe he was one whose meditation was on the Lord, day and night, for since I have been concerned to bear a testimony for the Lord, I have had great society with him. I have considered his solemn carriage and weighty behavior when he was in the body and I have heard him speak of the many straits and conditions he had been in since first he believed that God did expect worship and service from him.
And further, I have this to say of our Friend, Clement Lake, deceased, that he was a man wholly given up to answer the mind and will of the Lord. For I can truly say from a certain sense I had of him, that his conversation was heavenly, and that the Lord has made his promise good unto him, as he did unto the righteous in all ages, and through the faithfulness of him that has promised, we are made as witnesses of it, that his promise is fulfilled in us, by the spirit of his dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Master, for so he is. And I being with C.L. and having had a certain knowledge that the Lord's goodness lasted with him and he in it unto the end of his days, for which we can do no less than to return the praise, glory and honour that is due unto the Lord, for his mercy and goodness bestowed upon his people. So he died the death of the righteous and has received the reward of the faithful.
The Testimony that I have to bare for my dear husband, Clement Lake (deceased) is as follows:
He was a man endued with much faith and patience, tender of the honour of the Name of the Lord, and zealous for his truth and worship, and a good pattern and example in his family, often exhorting me, his children and servants in weighty sayings, touching the good and welfare of our souls, telling us, that if we perished he was clear of our blood; and since his death several of my neighbours have borne this testimony of him to me, that they never were in company with him but they received benefit by it. And farther, I bare testimony of him, though often attended with much weakness of body, yet he was very cheerful under it, many times declaring the goodness and love of God towards him, from time to time, in the many exercises and trials he went through in baring his testimony for the truth, in the town of Crediton (in Devonshire), where he lived, and elsewhere; and further, he was a man of a clean conversation, his very enemies have since his death spoken well of him and confessed they believed he is happy; and further, I cannot well be clear, but must acknowledge, that after my husband was Convinced of the blessed Truth, through the many instigations of those whom we formerly were in fellowship with, and others, caused me to grieve him very much by ill demeaning myself towards him a considerable time; but since the Lord was pleased to open my understanding, and give me a light and sense of the workings of the enemy (who is the sower of discord) I have been much troubled, and know sorrow for the same; and further I add, it was the great love of God towards me in answering the desire of my soul, which was often with many a cry and tear, that he would shew me the way of life and salvation and where he feeds his flock and causes them to rest at noonday; and since the Lord appeared and answered (blessed be his pure holy name for evermore) we lived in great unity, love, and fellowship, to the comfort of one another. Ah, but at length he was visited with a strong fever, whereof he lay near a week and ended his days here, the 23rd of the 12th Month, 1689. And when the Lord was pleased to take him from me, it was I must confess, very hard to me, considering my great loss of so dear and tender a husband as he was to me; but being thoroughly persuaded and satisfied in my heart that he is at rest with the Lord, I am satisfied in the will of the Lord, who is over all, God blessed for evermore; Amen, faith my soul.
Letter 1: Flavel to Lake
A Letter sent by John Flavel, an Independent Preacher at Dartmouth, in Devonshire, to Clement Lake of Crediton, the second day of the Fifth Month, 1687
Dear Christian friend, the true Christian love I have borne to you, ever since I came acquainted with you, and saw the grace of God in you, has engaged me in real tenderness to your soul, to give you this paper, if happily the Lord may thereby confirm you in his truth, against the soul destroying errors of Quakerism; I am persuaded if the principles of those men were but truly understood, and the consequence that necessarily flow from them, known to you, you would with as much satisfaction, choose to die a martyr in opposition to that error, as the Christians of Queen Mary's days did against Romish idolatry; give me leave to say plainly, a Quaker cannot be a Christian. I mean a Quaker that knows and defends the principles of that party, and I can confirm it as strongly as I assert it plainly, and will do it for your sake, by this argument, every part and branch whereof I am fully satisfied in.
If Quakerism subvert the fundamental and essential articles of the Christian religion, then no Quaker that understands and professes the principles of Quakerism can be a Christian. But it does so as will presently appear. For:
They deny the existence of the human nature, and satisfaction
of the Blood of Christ.
All these are their real opinions, let them dissemble, and hide themselves never so cunningly, I can prove it out of their own wicked pamphlets, I have had it from their own mouths, and that often; and to satisfy you of the truth of what I charge them, if you will but conceal the paper from them and ask any of their leaders yourself so as they apprehend not your design, these questions you shall find the charge just and real against them; take a fit season and demand thus:
Are we justified and saved by that very blood of Christ that was shed at Jerusalem, or by some other means than by the blood of the Man Christ Jesus?
Is Jesus Christ now in Heaven in a true and real Body
of flesh and blood? Or is he not?
Shall these very bodies of flesh and blood rise again at the last day, and be glorified with the souls, and remain human bodies still, for substance, though glorified bodies for qualities? Or what shall become of them?
Must we expect salvation by believing in Christ for righteousness, and applying his righteousness to our souls by faith? Or must we expect it by obedience to the light within us?
This being done discretely, so as that they see you do for satisfaction, and not to entangle them, I am confident you will find to your sorrow that I have too justly charged them with those damnable errors, and then the snare is broken and your soul escaped; but you must have a care of their deceitful answers, and hold them close to the word of each question, else they will hide the book in general and plausible answers.
But it were better for you to converse on these points with sound and solid Christians, that know their principles, than trust yourself amongst them; but if you must, I doubt not but by a discreet management you may have it from the mouths of their chief leaders; the Lord keep your soul in his truth; remember there are damnable errors, 2 Peter 2:5; as well as practices. Give me a few lines that may rejoice and comfort my heart concerning you, for my love to you makes me jealous over you. I remain yours in Jesus Christ our Hope,
Letter 2: Lake to Flavel
Clement Lake's Answer to the foregoing letter
I have considered your letter and the high charges in it; and to begin with the first,
First, That they deny the existence of the humane nature.
I shall, as I said, answer in scripture language, and shall take heed of philosophical words, because I do not profess myself to be one; I look on it as a just and reasonable thing due from all men, that all proposals of questions to others about their faith and belief of the scriptures should be in scripture language; I do not remember that ever I read of the word "existence" or "humane" in all the scriptures of Truth; I shall take heed according to the Apostle's advice, of vain Philosophy, and shall ground my faith according to the scriptures of Truth in all the matters on which my salvation depends.
I believe that Christ is glorified with the Father, with the same Glory he had before the World was, according to John 17:5 and 1 Tim. 3:16. He is received up to glory, and that he shall come again in the glory of his father, with his angels, Matt. 16:27. And that he is sitting on the right hand of power, Mark 14:62. And that he ascended up far above all heavens; and that he is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God, and that it is a glorious body, Phil. 3:21. And if this make me an heretic for believing as the scripture has said, I shall willingly bare your judgments.
For the second part of it, That they deny the satisfaction of the Blood of Christ.
This is a false, lying, slanderous charge, charge it who
will; for my part, according to what I have heard and seen since acquainted
with them, of all the sorts of Professors that I have been conversant
with, I have not known any to have a greater esteem for, and put a greater
value on the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, than those do that are
thus charged; and indeed it is no wonder that they thus value it, seeing
a remnant have experienced such unexpressible virtue from it, and benefit
I see but little mention made in your letter of the cleansing virtue of Christ's blood or the work of regeneration that must be wrought in man, or the new birth that must be experienced, or no entering into the Kingdom of Heaven; John 3:3. And we believe, that for all those for whom the blood of Christ makes satisfaction, they know and experience a purging of their consciences from dead works to serve the living god; and this a remnant have found and can speak it to the glory of our God, 1 Pet. 1:18, 19. They know redemption from a vain conversation by the previous blood of Christ, and I hope that this is also clear, if Scripture will pass, and I be believed, that it is the faith of those called Quakers.
As to the second, that they deny the imputed righteousness
of Christ, as the matter of our justification.
Whether it be all men universally, without condition or
qualification? And so whether Christ did in the body of his flesh, in
his own person all that was to be done for man? Or whether his work
is not to be experimentally known in every man, for the destruction
of sin, and the work of sanctification, by all that shall have the benefit
of his imputed righteousness, yea or nay?
Thirdly, that they deny the resurrection of the body
and its participation of glory with the soul.
Fourthly, that they lead men to the covenant of works
and obedience to the Light within.
For the second part of the charge, That they lead men to obedience to the Light within for salvation.
This I will say, that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry, and that without obedience there will be no eating the fat of the promised land. And for the Light within so much despised by the dark Rabbis of the world, this Light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his holy ones for a flame that shall burn and devour the thorns in one day (Esa 10:17). And that we press obedience to the Light within, we own, who is Jesus Christ the Light of Israel, the Light of the world, who is given to be a covenant to the people and a light to the gentiles, to open the blind eyes (Esa. 42:6,7). This was David's light to his feet and lantern to his paths, in Psa. 119:115. And this word, or light, or Jesus was in the beginning; and in him was life, and the life was the light of men, 1 John 8. And this beginning he is our light and life, and he it is that expels the darkness out of the heart; and those that are obedient to him are called children of light (Eph. 5:8). And it is by this Jesus Christ, who is the wisdom and power of God, the light that makes manifest all things as they are, that brings down every imagination in man that exalts itself against the Lord, and brings every thought into obedience to himself; he it is that is the author of eternal life to all that obey him (Heb. 5:8 and 1 Peter 1:2). And that he is within, and dwells in the saints, we own it, though for owning it we are an abomination to the Egyptians (2 Cor. 13:5). Are not the saints the temple of God? And does not he dwell in his Temple? And is it not in the heart? And is not the heart within? And is not his throne there? And is it not there he gives in those sweet and blessed comforts to his people? And is it not there is pours out his wrath on the wicked? And is it not in the heart that he is striving with the children of men, to reclaim them by his motions? And man's disobedience to it is a grieving of him, and rebelling against him (1 Thess. 5:19). And it seems to me that any man that has reason or religion should be satisfied with this account, unless those that will unchristian others that they might be thought the best Christians themselves, and bespatter others that themselves might shine. And so I have answered the first four charges, and if I am beside the Truth, I desire it may be manifested to me in a few lines.
I look on it as a just and reasonable thing that before any man unchristian another, that first they prove their own position to be according to Truth.
And secondly, that they prove those persons guilty of denying those truths, for which they unchristian them, which neither is done in your letter, but by a bare say so, as it must be true because it is said, and said by such a one, but it is no new thing, such there were in the days of old (Rev. 2:9) But he that has the key of David has opened a door to us, that no man can shut, and by this little strength we have kept his word, and have not denied his name (Rev. 3:8,9) For which the people are angry that we do not as they have done; and nothing less than to unchristian us will serve. But what if the day should come that you should acknowledge the Lord has loved us? Sure it would be a great change? I shall not enlarge any further, to speak of the five last things, but may refer to them until I have the answer from them, from whom it is expected; and as I have said formerly, wherein I am beside Truth, in what I have written, let it be signified to me in a few lines, who am a well-wisher to the prosperity of Zion, and desire the good of all men.
We are not the people we are reported to be, for we are falsely represented to the world by those who have made lies their refuge (Esa. 28:15). And under falsehood have hid themselves; but Judgment the Lord will lay to the Line and righteousness to the plummet, and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies (v. 17).
Letter 3: Flavel to Lake
A second letter sent to me from John Flavel, to which is an Answer to my former Letter the seventh of the eighth month, 1687
I received lately an answer to my letter, written many years since, to preserve you from Quakerism, whether this answer were made by you or others, I examine not, for it is nothing to the purpose; our point is not what you believe, but what is the known published doctrine of the Quakers, from which my care was to preserve you; I told you that a Quaker owning the professed principles of Quakerism cannot be a Christian, and instanced several fundamental points of Christian doctrine denied by them; to all of which you gave me your own private judgment, in scripture terms, which seems generally sound, as I hope you still remain in your own principles. But what is this to the doctrine of that people with whom you now walk, forsaking those assemblies where first you found Christ, if ever you found him; I am only concerned to prove my assertions, that Quakerism overthrows Christianity; and this is plain by what follows, which I take not up upon reports at random, but give it you out of their own printed discourses.
First, he cannot be a Christian that rejects the Scriptures as a Rule; but so do the Quakers; Toldervy in his Book, page 6 says, "That searching the scriptures is not the way to find out the mind of Christ; but the turning of the mind to within." One Mason in his defense of Cravon, page 12, says, "Did Paul or any of the Apostles walk by a literal rule? Or was not their rule a measure of the Spirit of God committed to every one of them?" Nayler in his Book against John Rayner, speaks thus of us, who differ from him: "Their law is without; their Light without, their Church without, all which we witness to be within; Farewell then say I to the written word."
Secondly, He cannot be a Christian that affirms perfection and freedom from sin on this side of heaven, 1 John 1:8. This has been often asserted in my hearing by the Quakers, and is printed by Mason, in page 3 of his Book, quoted from Eph. 4:12. Concluding thus, "Were England's blind watchmen commissioned from Christ, they would not thus prate against perfection."
Thirdly, He cannot be a Christian that makes no distinction between the godly and the ungodly, but does affirm that Christ enlightens every man that comes into the world, with a saving Light; but so did John Stubs, George Fox, and many others affirm it, and defend it in a set dispute with Mr. Wiggon in the printed dispute, page 13, laboring to prove "that every man in the world has the Spirit of Christ savingly in him," from 1 Cor. 12:7. If so, we must alter the whole frame of scripture and Christian religion. And as to Christ's imputed righteousness, how slighting does Nayler speak of it as a doctrine of ours, page 20 of his book. But I need go no farther; I could instance in many great points more, as that of the resurrection of the body, which has been once and again denied by the Quakers to my face, and that with scorn and contempt of my ignorance for affirming it, so that I speak not uncharitably or untruly when I said what I did of their opinions.
It may be you will say these were but particular persons, and you reject their mistakes; I say they were the leading men of your party; and how shall we know your opinions but from their books? As for you, I pray the Lord would preserve you sound in the faith, and return you to your first love, to his saints and ordinances. I am full of compassion for your soul and remain your friend,
Letter 4: Lake to Flavel
An Answer to John Flavel's second letter sent 1687: to him from Clement Lake of Crediton in Devonshire
I received your letter, and by it understand that you have received mine, which you question whether made by me or others; I assure you that no other but myself did indite or write one line or passage of that or this; you tell me again that a man owning the professed principles of Quakers cannot be a Christian; and that you did instance in several fundamental points denied by them, to which I replied they were false charges, and to all of them I should give my reply as my own private judgment, which was seemingly sound.
This is another abuse, seeing I said it was the faith of those called Quakers also, and the faith of those with whom I walked. But it seems though my answer was found yet not very acceptable, for it was in scripture terms. It is true, I am utterly against it that scripture should bow to vain philosophy, and to be wise above what is written, and although it seems one thing not liked, my forsaking those people with whom I have walked (it is true) while they walked I walked with them; but when they grew weary and sat down, must I be blamed for not doing as they did, because I walked still, and that by the footsteps of the flock according to their own advice and cannot set down or turn back? There is one thing that I have observed of the like nature, and is counted rather a virtue than a vice in others (which is this) in the time when the shepherds fled, and the people scattered, the Cross of Christ appearing, the people crept in under the wings of the Church of England for shelter, I do not say to avoid the Cross of Christ (look they to that) sheltered they were, and fed too, with such food as they had to give them, if not wholesome, why did they use it? What made them there? why did their stewards permit it, if they found the Bread of life there? Why were they drawn off again? Was not this permitted by you and others, if not approved? (and why was it?) to keep the children quiet, that they might not cry for bread, when the stewards would not give them any, for the Lion was in the way; was it good bread then, and is it husks now? Now they will feed these people themselves, or rather these people must feed them, for their bread now yields a good rate, and if they will not come up to the price, we will go to another flock: Well, now, these people must leave those with whom they have walked, and be blameless, but blamed if they will not leave them; surely I must needs say that they all dealt very disingenuously with the Church of England, to leave them now that they have most need of them, as I have told many their faces, and not only so but rejoice in the ruin, which is an ill requital for their former kindness; but enough of that.
In your former letter your charges were drawn, and in your last letter I expected proof of what was then charged, but I have failed of my expectation, and of fair dealing too, for the first bill is lost, and a new indictment is drawn up, which is not fair; it yet lies in you to prove it, or bare your shame.
In your first letter we were unchristianed by your false accusation and lying slanders, no small evil for a minister of Christ to be found guilty of, to unchristian such a body of people with a bare say so; it is a spot but not of God's children. They are children that will not lie; and it has caused my heart to grieve that such a one as yourself should be the author and spreader of them, so that many in this place who have had your person in admiration, have been doing the same evil work, having an implicit faith, much like a generation of men, who believe as the Church believes, and it is true because the Church faith is; and so they did believe it and spread it because you said it. But now the refuge of lies is sweeping away, people having had opportunity of hearing Friends, and conversing with them in this place, your folly now appears and your affections are found to be lies, though John Flavel has said it, Hicks, Faldoe and others; for the earth is lightened with the Glory of the Lord, and we would that all men knew us as we are, and then let them judge, for we are not ashamed of our principles.
But to leave the first, and come to the second charge or indictment, that He cannot be a Christian that rejects the scripture as a Rule.
But what I have yet found, I may say to you as Nathan to David. Thou art the man; for by what Rule are we thus falsely accused and abominably slandered? And it is a rare thing this day to find many such as yourself to slander us ignorantly and not maliciously.
But to the matter of fact, what was Abel's and Noah's and Enoch's Rule, Leader or Guide, before the Scriptures were written? Was it not the spirit of God, and the same spirit that gave forth the scriptures in time, and moved the holy men of Old, who spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance, even the same Spirit of Truth that Christ promised should be given to his disciples, and remain with them, and had them into all Truth, John 14:16, 17, chapter 16:13. We own and honour the scriptures above all other writings in the world, and they are profitable for doctrine, for reproof and for correction and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 16) . We own we are not of the same mind with an assembly once gathered, that the scriptures are the only Rule, then farewell to the Spirit of God say I: We do believe that it is not in the power of men to deprive the saints of their Rule, Leader or Guide which is the Spirit of the Lord. But if the scriptures be the only rule, then it is possible that men may be deprived of their rule by the enemies: Matt. 11:17: "No man knows the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal him." And now I will appeal to all the faithful in those late years, when their teachers fled from them, when trouble came, and preaching and hearing became expensive, had not a remnant been taught of God, had they not had the Spirit of the Lord to lead and guide, and instruct them, what had become of them? Had there not been springs in the desert, and rivers in the wilderness, streaming from the Lord to refresh those distressed souls, what had become of them?
Thirdly, "He cannot be a Christian that affirms perfection or freedom from sin on this side of heaven."
How is the scripture rejected here, and made to bow down to the experience of man? Who are taught by their teachers that it is impossible to have the works of the devil destroyed; and so make void Christ's coming, and therefore a cry is made, damnable doctrine to have sin destroyed.
I shall first lay down that God has commanded it, Gen. 17:7: "Walk before me and be thou perfect." Matt. 19:24, "If you will be perfect, sell all." All must go if God call for it or no perfection; he has done many things and that from his youth up, and many sins doubtless were slain and the young man dead to them. A brave professor for our days; but one thing must be kept: a wedge of gold, a Babylonian garment; he had great possessions and that he could not part with for treasure in heaven, the pretentiousness of which he had not the experience of by faith, and this made him go away sorrowful; doubtless he liked not the doctrine of perfection like the people of our days; men can be content to have the drunkenness and swearing, murder, theft and such like Goliath's slain; this is possible to live without to some, and cry, they will enough against those that will not, and well worthy. But what sin it is I would fain know that the Lord cannot, yea, will not destroy and keep us from as well as these, if People did not hide them, and will not let them go? Is it possible men may have the greater , and not the lesser slain by the power of the Lord? If they would bring them forth, he would flay them before their faces. There is something that is sweet to them, like as to Saul, goodly in their eyes and that must be spared; but that which is wild, disgraceful and reproachful, that must be destroyed. But sparing of the other was his run. Ah, if people were but ingenious, and brought forth that to the sword that is for the sword and that to the fire that is for the fire, would not then this sword and fire of God's spirit burn up and destroy those fatlings and lamps that they keep in their bosom, as well as that which is wild and refuge?
I shall desire you to view what your own pen has written, page 7 of "The Saint indeed;" your definition of keeping the heart: it is to have the heart right; it will be too tedious to transcribe all, view it what you say there, what man was by creation, what many became by degeneration, and what man is by regeneration, where all is set right again; and page 22, "Had they kept their hearts with God, all had been well; and what is that but to keep from sin," page 13, holy Job dared not suffer his heart to yield to an impure thought, surely then to no wicked action and so in a sinless state, as long as he kept there. I would fain know of you, if you please, whether it be possible for a Christian to observe those directions laid down in your book? If possible, whether that soul will not then be kept from sin? And if possible, why are we then unchristianed for believing of it? If impossible, why you press people then to impossibilities and take money for it to view your own book well, and practice it also? And I dare to say you will come to that blessed state; look the 191st page, read it at large, where you cry out, "Away with bold censuring." But it was but a little way, for in the 19th page you can censure the Quakers that they never knew what belong to practical godliness, and study of their own hearts. I beseech you in the bowels of love, do not be found in the number of them that say and do not; by what scripture rules do you thus judge the secrets of thousands of hearts, persons whom you never knew nor saw; View 198 and 199 pages where you complain of the Lives of the Professors; and how can it be otherwise. (What is the reason of it?) They are told it is impossible to get themselves free of sin; and so one lets down captivated with one sin, and another with another sin. I tell you in the bowels of love, that if ever the Lord did send you to preach the Gospel, it was for the perfecting of saints and turning men from the power of Satan to the power of God, and from darkness to light; and not to tell them the strong man cannot be cast out and all his goods spoiled. But say you, there is something that cannot be destroyed; where then is the purgatory to cleanse souls? You say, and it is true, that as the true falls so it lies, and if men die in their sins, where Christ is gone they cannot come, and no unclean thing can enter the Kingdom of Heaven; and yet poor people cannot be cleansed. Ah the souls that split on this Rock!
Thirdly, the Scripture holds forth there have been perfections; I shall quote the scriptures: Ps. 64:4; Gen. 6:9, Job 1:1; Prov. 2:21; 1 Cor 2:6; 2 Cor. 13:9,11, where the apostle prays for it, and exhorts to it,; Rom 6:1, "How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" Man must know a death or sin, or I will be both to say, shall know a death for sin (Ver. 6). they must know the old man Crucified, that the body of sin may be destroyed, that henceforth they should not serve sin; v. 7: he that is dead is free from sin; men will not know a freedom from sin until they know a death to sin; v. 18. Being then made free from sin, they become servants of righteousness, and then men have their fruits to holiness and their end is everlasting life: this is the Doctrine of Christ.
But the doctrine of devils is to say, "that men may sin and not die;" He was the first that preached it. Gen. 3.3: "He shall not die;" here is the great liar. And what are those man that say men cannot be free from sin until they come to heaven, cannot cease from sin until they come to heaven? That sin cannot be destroyed? What is this but to make Christ's coming void, who came to destroy the works of the Devil, to save his people from their sins? Is not this a departing from the faith that overcomes the world, the Flesh and the Devil, and a giving heed to the seducing Spirit and Doctrine of Devils, to speak lies to uphold the Devil's kingdom? (1 Tim 4:1) and unchristian all that believe; as the scripture has said, that Christ saves from sin (not in Sin) from the power and practice from the filth as well as the guilt, all that he will have from hell and its damnation; and who are those that cry out against it, but those that will make Christ, scripture and all bow down to their sinful condition? Is there not some little one in them that they will not give up to God's sword and fire, some fatlings in their bosom, goodly in their eyes like Saul, and yet think their souls shall live for all his, that gather up the failing of the saints to feed upon; that because Noah, David and Peter failed they may yet, must sin all their days. I beseech you in the tender love of the Lord, to persuade the children of men to a thorough work of sanctification in body, soul and spirit and a perfecting holiness in the fear of God and a cleaning from all unrighteousness, and a casting out of the heart all that offend him, not only some things but all things that affect him. All which is to be done by the power of the Lord; and so come to know a perfection in Christ, and so come to be one with Christ, as he is with the Father, and the strong man cast off and all his goods spoiled and so come to be a habitation for God through the Spirit. My heart is here enlarged, and my mouth opened to bear witness to the truth of God, that Christ is able and willing to save from all sin, and to keep us from falling, if men believe in his power, and keep to it; for it will be to all men according to their faith, but if men do not, yea, will not believe Christ is that he, that can (yea) and will do these things for them, they shall die in their sins and where he is gone they cannot come.
Thirdly, he cannot be a Christian that makes no distinction between the godly and the wicked or ungodly, the one so confers, prays, bewails corruption, talks of experience, opens their condition, neglects the watch over the heart, and does often fall into scandalous sins as the wicked do? What difference do you make between the godly and ungodly hearts, except it be in this that one shall go to heaven and the other to hell, though they thus live, no difference in the life, except it be that the godly so called by you are worse in their lives, for by their example they make fast the bands of death upon both. The former are cruel and shed the blood of other souls, fall often into scandalous sins, and for proof David is brought: he committed murder and adultery. Did he fall into this often? Was it the practice of his life? Was not the remaining part of his life spent in mourning and watching, and warning against and praying against all sin? And did he not declare his abhorrence of it, all false ways he did utterly abhor? And did he utterly abhor it with his tongue and not abstain from it in his life? Surely his remaining years were far different from the life of the wicked and so were the life of other saints after their falls, and therefore take this charge home to yourself, who pleads for sin term of life, and unchristian others who plead for purity of heart and life, and a ceasing from sin, and a freedom indeed by the truth. But not offended because I spoke forth the words of truth, it is for the honour of my Saviour Christ Jesus. And it is my testimony that I bare against the devil and sin and the pleaders for it (that he can that he does) that he will save from sin those that believe in him and come to him and receive him in all his offices, to them he will give power to become the sons of God; and a what is that but to cease to do evil and learn to do well?
And now for the proof of your charge, for which we are unchristianized, and that we make no difference between the godly and the wicked, is this, that "Christ enlightening everyone that comes into the world with a saving light."
I would fain know whether saints be born saints? If not, but all are by nature children of wrath, enemies to God by wicked works, as I believe they are. Then whether that spirit that strived with them and convinced them of sin, righteousness and judgment, and brought them out of the state of darkness, enmity and rebellion, and turns them or leads them from the power of Satan, to be led, guided and governed by the Power of God, be not the same Spirit that is striving with and in the wicked to reclaim them? And whether it would not reclaim them, if they did follow it and obey its reproofs, instructions and counsels? God gave his good spirit to the Old World and others, and doubtless willing and sufficient to save them, if they had not resisted and rebelled against it; it was God's good Spirit that was saving which was given to rebellious Israel, but they rebelled and vexed it, that it could not dwell in them, and it is the same secret, still voice that cries afterward, in man and woman, "This is the way, walk in it; return, return why will ye die?" But by rebellion against and resistance of, grieving, vexing and quenching its motions he ceases to strive, and we then to that soul when left to commit sin with Greed.
And as I have said formerly, I say again, if in any thing you supposed I am beside the truth, signify it to me in a few lines, who desires and prays for the coming of God's kingdom in the Hearts of the Children of men.