William Law.

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latry fet up by Satan.

It may perhaps be here faid, Muft there
then be no Learning or Scholarfhip, no re-
condite Erudition in the Chriftian Church ?
Muft there be nothing thought of, or got
by the Gofpel, but mere Salvation? Muft
its Miniftsrs know nothing, teach nothing
but fuch Salvation-Dodrines as Chrift and
his Apoftles taught; nothing but x\\q full
denial of Self, Poverty of Spirit, Meeknefs,
and Humility, and unwearied Patience, a
never ceaGns: Love, an abfolute Renunciation
of the Pomps and Vanities of the World, a
full Dcpendance upon our Heavenly Father ,
no Joy or rtjoycing but in the Holy Ghoft ;
no Wifdom but that which God gives; no
Walking but as Chrift walked; no Reward
or Glory for their Ltbours of Love, but that
oi ht\n^ fomjd in Chrijl, Fiefh of his Fleih,
Bone of his Bones, Spirit of his Spirit, and
cloathed with the Wedding-Garment when
the Bridegroom comes, when the Lord Hvm^
felf fkall defcend from Heaven with a Shouts
with the Voice of the Archangel^ and with the
Trmnpet of God, and the Dead in Chrift fhall

To this the firft Anfwer Is, Happy, thrice
happy are they, who are only the thus learn-
ed Preachers of the Gofel, who through
I A all

t 130 ]

all their Mlnlftry feek nothing for them-
felves or others, but to be taught of God-,
hunger after nothing br.t the Bread of Life
that came down from Heaven, owning no
Marter but Chrift, no Teacher but his holy
Spirit; as unable to join with the Diggers in
Pagan Pits of Learning, as with ihofe that
labour for the Wmd. and give their Mo?iey
for that which is not Bread.

Secondly, with regard to the Demand of
learned Knowledge in the Chriftian Church,
it nay be anfwered, that all that has been
faid above, is only for the Incrcafe and Pro-
motion of it, and that all Ignorance and Darft-

r.efs may be driven quite out of it. The

Church of Chrifl; is the Seat or School of
all the higheft Knowledge that the human
Nature is capable of in this Life. Ignorance
is every where but in the Church of Chrift.

^The Law, the Prophets, and the Gof-

pel are the only Treifures of ail that can be
called the Knowledge either of God or
Man ; and He in whom the Law, the Pro-
phets, and the Gofpel are fulfilled, is the
i^nXj well-educated Man, and one of the firft-
rate Scholars in the World. But now, who
is he, that has this Wifdom from thefe rich
Trealurts ? Who is he, in whom all is known
and fulfilled which they teach ? The Lip
of Truth has told us, that it is he, and he
alone, who loves God with all his Heart, with


[ 13' ]

all his Souli with all his Mi7id, and ivith all his
Strength i and his Neighbour as Imnf elf. This
is the Man th-it is all Wifdom, all Liphr,
and let into full PojfTeffion of all that is meant
by all the Myllsries contained in the Law,

the Prophets, and the Gofpel. Where

this divine Love is wanting, and a diabolical
Self fits in its Place, there may be great
JViis, (liining Critics^ Orators, Poets, &c. as
eafily as there may be a profound Machiavely
a learned Hobbos^ or an atheiftical Firtuofe,
But would you divinely know the Myfleries
of Nature, the Ground and Reafon of Good
and Evil in this World, the Relation and
Connedlon between the vifible and invifible
World, how the Things of Time proceed
from, are influenced by, and depend upon
the Things and Powers of Eternity, there is
but one only Key of Entrance ; nothing caa
open the Vifion but feeing with the" Eyes
of ihdit fame Love, which began and carries
on all that is, and works in vifible and in-
vifible Nature. — Would you divinely know
the Myflierics of Grace and Salvation, would
you go forih as a fairhful Witnefs of gofpel
Truths, flay till this Fire of divine Love has
had its perfect Work within you. For till
your Heart is an Altar, on which this hea-
venly Fire never goes out, you are dead in
yourlelf, and can only be a Speaker of dead
Words about Things that never had any


[ 132 ]
Life within you. For without a real Birth
of this divine Love in the effence of your
Sou], be as learned an polite as you will,
your Heart is but the dark Heart of fallen
Adam, and your Knowledge of the Kingdom
of God will be only like that which mur-
dering Cain had. For every Thing is

Murder, but that which Love does. If

Love is not the Breath of your Life, the
Spirit that forms and governs every Thing
that proceeds from you, every Thing that
has your Labour, your Allowance and Con-
fent, you are broken cff from the Works of
God, you iiave left his Creation^ you are
without God, and your Name, and Nature,
2nd Woiks can have no other Name, or
Nature, but that which is called Pride,
V/rath, Envy, Hypocrify, Hatred, Revenge,
«nd Self-Exn.Uation, under the Power of Sa-
tan in his Kingdom of Darknefs. No-
thing can pofiibly fave you from being the
certain Prey of all thcfe evil Spirits, through
the whole Courfe of your Life, but a Birth
of that Love which is God himfeif, his Light,
and Spiric within you.

There is no Knowledge in Heaven, but
what proceeds from this Birth of Love, nor
is there any Difference between the higheft
Light of an Angel, and the horrid Darknefs
of a Devil, but that which Love has made.

.^ But now, fince divine Love can have


[ 133 ]

no Beginning but from a Birth of the divine
Nature in us, therefore fays St John, we
love him becaufe he FIRST loved us, the
fame as faying, we defire God, becaufe he
Jirjl defired us ; for we could not defire God,
but becaufe He iirft defired us, we could not
turn to God, but becaufe he firft turned to
us. And fo it is, that we could not love
God, but becaufe he jirjt loved us, that is,
becaufe h^jlrji by our Creation brought forth,
and by our Redemption continued and kept
up that fame Birth of his own Spirit of

Love in us. For as his holy Spirit mufl

Jirjl be a Gift to us, or born in us, and then
we have that which can ivorfiip God in Spi-
rit, fo his Love muft of all Neceiiity be a
Gift to us, or born in us, and then we have
that of God in us which alone can love him

with his own Love. A Truth abfolutely

afferted in thefe Words ; Love is of God, and
he that loveth is horn of God,

Let this be my Excufe to the learned
World, for owning no School of Wifdom,
but where the one only LefTon is divine Love;
and the one only Teacher the Spirit of Gud.
Let no one call this wild or extravagant;
it is no wilder a Step, no more injurious to
Man, to Truth and Goodnefs, than the
owning no God but one. — For to be Ccdled
from every Thing but divine Love and the
Spirit of God, is only being called from


[ 13+ 1

every Thing that has the Curfe of fallen
Nature in it. — And no Man can come from
under this Curfe, till he is born again of
divine Love, and the Spirit of God. For
thus to be born is as much the one fole
Happinefs, Joy, and Glory of Men, both
now and ever, as it is the fole Joy and
Glory of Angels eternally in the Heavens.
— — Believe nie then, thou great Scholar,
that all that thou haft got of Wifdom or
Learning, Day after Day, in any other
School but this, will ftand thee in as much
Stead, fill thee with as high heavenly Com-
fort at the Hour of Death, as all the long
Dreams, which Night after Night, thou
haft ever had in thy Sleep. — And till a Man
knows this, with as much fullnefs of Con-
vi(ftion as he knows the Vanity of a Dream,
he has his full Proof, that he is not yet in
the Light of Truth, not yet taught of God,
nor like-minded v/ith Chrift.

One of Chrift's Followers, faid Lord.fttf-
fer mefirji to go and bury fny Father -, the An-
fwer was, Let the Dead bury their Deadyjol^
low thou me. — Another faid to him, Let tne
Jirji go bid them Farewell that are at Home 171
my Houfe \ Jefus anfwered, ISIo Man having
put his Hand to the Plough, and looking back,
is Jit for the Kingdom of God. — Now let it l:e
fuppoied that a Third hdd faid. Lord, I have
left feveral deep- learned Books s^t Hotnc, writ-

[ 135 ]

ten by the greateft Mafters of Grammar Lo-
gic and Eloquence, fuffer me firft to go back
for them, left lofing the Light which I had
from them, I might miftake the Depth and
Truth of thy heavenly Doctrines, or be lefs
able to prove and preach them powerfully to

other?. 'Would not fuch a Requefl as

this have had a Folly and Abfurdity in it,
not chargeable upon thofe two other Re-

quefts which Chrift rejeded ? And yet,

what can fcholaftic, claffic, and critical Di-
vinity fay for itfelf, but that very fame
Thing which this Requefter here faid ?

The Holy Jefus faid, I am the Light of
the World, he that follow eth me, walketh not
in Darknefs, — Here fpiritual Light and Dark-
nefs are as immutably fixed, and feparated
from one another, as the Light and Dark-
nefs of this World were divided on the firll
Day of the Creation. Jefus Chrift, the e-
ternal fon of God, is the one only Light both

of Men and Angels. Fallen Nature, the

felfifti Will, proud Tempers, the higheft
Abilities, the natural Sagacity, Cunning Arts
and Subtilties, that are or can be in fallen
Men and Angels, are nothing iiMz but their
fullnefs of fpiritu'jl Darknefs, from which
nothing but Works of Darknefs can come
forth. — — In a Word, Darknefs is the whole
natural Mafi -, Light is the new torn Man
from above. Therefore fiys the Chrift of


L 136 ]

God, I am the Light of the World, becaufc
He alone iS the Birth of Heaven in the fal-
len Sjuls of Men. — But now, who can
more rejecft this divine Light, or more plain-
ly choofe Darknefs in Head of it, than he
who fceks to have his Mind enriched, the
Faculties of his fallen Soul cultivated by the
Literature of Poets, Orators, Philofophers,
SophiPts, Sceptics, and Critics, born and
bred up in the Worfliip and Praifes of Idol .
Gods and Goddeffes ? What is this, but like
going to the Serpent to be taught the inno-
cent Spirit of the Dove; or to the elegant
Lufts of Anacreon and OwV, to learn Purity
of Heart, and kindle the Flame of heavenly
Love in our Souls? Look where you will,
this is the Wifdom of thofe who feek to
Pagans for Skill to work in ChrilVs Vine-
yard ; who from long Labours in reftoring
the Grammar, and finding out the hidden
Beauties of fome old vicious Book, fet up
for qualified Artifts to polifli the Gofpel Pearl
of great Price.^ — — Surely this is no better a
Proof of their favouring the Things that are
of God, than Peter gave, when his M after

faid to him. Get thee behind me, Satan,

A grave Ecclefiaftic, bringing forth out of his
Clofet fkilful Meditations on the Commen-
taries of a murdering Ccefar^ or the fubhme
Rhapfody of an old Homer, or the aftoniih-
ing Beauties of a modern Dzinciad, has as


I ^37 ]
much Reafon to think that he is walking in
the Light of Chrifi:, and led by the Spirit
of God, as they have who are only eating
and drinking, and rifmg up to play.

But to fee the exceeding Folly of expell-
ing Ability in divine Knowledge from any
Thing that is the Wit, Wifdom, or Spirit of
the natural Man, you need only read thefe
Words of the holy MeiTenger of God, the
Elias that was to come. / indded, fays he,
baptize you with Water ^ but He that cometh
after tne, whofe Shoes Latchet I am not worthy
to iinloofey He JJjall baptize you with the Holy

Ghoft, and with Fire. Now if this vt^hich

the Baptift laid of Chrifl is not our Faith,
if we do not receive it as the Truth in
which we are firmly to ftand, then be as
learned as we will, we have no better a Faith,
or higher Wifdom, than thofe blind Rabbies
who received net the Teftimony of J.^hn.— •
A Fire and Spirit from above was the News
which he publifhed to the World j this, and
nothing elfe was his Kingdom of God that

was at hand.- Now if this Fire and Spirit

from above has nor baptized us into a Birth
of the Life of God in our Souls, we have
not found that Chriit and Kingdom of God,
to which John bore Witnefs. BuL if (what
is ftill worfe) we are fo bewitched through
the Sorcery of Learning, as to turn Writers
and Preachers againft this inward, and only
6 redeeming

t '38 ]

redeeming heavenly Fire and Spirit, we are
baptized with the Spirit of thofe, to whom
our Lord faid, Wo unto you Scribes^ PharifeeSy
Hypocrites, for ye fhut up the Kingdom of
Heaven againft Men , for ye neither go in your-
f elves y neither fuffer ye them that are entering
to go in.

For what is, or can be the Fall of a di-
vine Adam under the Power of Sin, Satan,
and Hell, but the Extindion of that hea-
venly Fire and Spirit, which were his Firil
Union with God and all heavenly Beings.—-
Say now, that he had not this heavenly Fire
and Spirit at the firfl:, that nothing lived or
breathed in him but that adral Fire and
Spirit which are the Life and Spirit of all
earthly Animals, and then you have a Reli-
gion as divine as that of the old Sadducees,
who allowed of no Refurredion, Angel, or

Spirit. For, deny the Truth and Fulnefs

of a divine Life in the firft Man, and then
his Fall and Redemption are equally empty
Sounds about nothing. For what can he
be fallen from, or redeemed to, if he has
now all that Fire and Spirit of Life which
he ever had, or ought to have, and if all
that is more than this, is but the Fidlion
and Dream of a diftempered Brain ? Tell
me, why that bunwig 2.vApoining Light, that
Man that was more than a Prophet, (hould
come with his Water, and the Son of God,


[ 139 1

God of God, fhould come with his Fire -
Bdptifm, if Man neither wanted, nor could
receive a higher Water, and Fire of Life,
than that which he has in connmon with the
Beafts of the Field ? Why is there all this
Stir about Religions, Expiations and Atone-
ments, why all thefe prieftly Ordinations,
Confecrations, Churches, Sacrarr.ents, and
Prayers ? For if the Fire and Spirit of this
World is the one Lii'e, and highefl Life,
both of Man and Beafts, we have it unafked
for, and on the fame Terms as the Beafts
have ir, and can only lofe it, as they do
when they lofe their Exigence.

But if Fire and Spirit from Heaven carl
alone make heavenly Creatures, and us, to
be Children of an heavenly Father j if the
Son of God took our fallen Nature upon
him, that the firft heavenly Fire and Spirit
might again come to Life in us, if divine
Lite, divine Light, and divine Good^cf^, can
only come from them, and only in fuch
Degree, as they are kindled in our Souls,
v/hat a Poverty of Senfe is it in thofe, who
are called to a Refurred:ion of the firft divine
Life, where a new Creature is taught by
that fame JJnBion from above, whence all
the Angels and Principalities oi Heaven have
their Light and Glory, what a Poverty of
Senfe, I fay, in fuch, to fet themleives down
at the Feet of a Mafter Tully, and a Majier
K Ariftotle,

t HO ]

Ariftotle, who only differ from the meaneH:
of all other corrupt Men, as the Teaching
Serpent differed from his fellow Animals, by
being vjore fubtil tha?i all the beajis of the

Behold then your State, ye Minflers that
wait at Chriflian Altars, who will have nei-
ther Faith, nor Hope, nor Defire of Hea^
•uenly Fire kindled in your Souls, you have a
Prieflhood, and an Altar not fit to be named
with that, which in Jewifh Days had a
holy Fire from God defcending upon it,
which made Prieft and Sacrifice acceptable
to God, though only Type and Pledge of
that inward celejiial Fire, which Chrift
would kindle into a never ceafmg Burning
in the living Temples of his new born Chil-
dren from above.

Complain then no more of Atheifls, In-
fidels, and fuch like open Enemies to the
Gofpel Kingdom of God ; for whilll you
call heavenly Fire and Spirit, kindled into
the fame ejjential Life in us as they are in
holy Angeis, downright phrenfy, and myflic
Madnefs, you do all that infidel Work with-
in the Church, which they do on the out-
lide of it. ' And if through a learned Fear
of having that done to your earthly Reafon,
which was done to Fnoch when God took
him, you will own no higher a Regeneration,
no ?nore Birth of God in your Souls, than


[ HI]

ca-n be had by a few cold Drops of Water
fprinkled on the Face, any of the heathen
Gods of Wood and Stone are good enough

for fuch an elementary Pr left hood. For

let this be told you, as Truth from God,
that till heavenly Fire and Spirit have a Ful-
nefs of a Birth within you, you can rife no
higher by your higheft Learning, than to be
elegant Orators about Scripture Words.

Our Lord has faid, T^he Kingdom of God is
within youj that is, the heavenly Fire and Spi-
rit, which are the true Kingdom and Main-
feftation of God, are within you. And in-
deed, where can it be elfe ? Yet what learned
Pains are taken to remove the literal Mean-
ing from thefe Words, as too vifionary a ,

Thing for learned Ears, And yet is a

Truth obvious to common Senfe, that even
this outward World of Stars and Elements,
neither does, nor can belong to us, or we to
it, but fo far as it is, literally fpeaking, a
Ki?igdom within us. For the outward King-
dom or Powers of this World fignify nothing
to a worldly Man that is dead ; but no Man
is dead, but becaufe the Kingdom of this
World, with all its Powers ot Fire, Light,
and Spirit, ftands only outwardly about him,
but has loil its Life and Power within him.

Say now, out of Reverence to lound Li-
terature, and abhorrence of Enihufiafm, that
K 2 the

[ H2 1
the Kingdom of God is not really and
virtually within, that its heavenly Fire,
Light and Spirit, are not, ought not to be
born in a fober right-minded Follov/er of
Chrift, and then you have a good Dikiple of
Chrift, as abfolutely dead to the Kingdom
of Heaven, as the Corpfe, that has Nothing
of the Fire, Spirit, and Light of this World
in it, is dead to all the outward World round
about it.

What a Sobriety of Faith and found
DoiStrine is it, to preach up a Necefity of
being living Pvlembers of the Kingdom of
Heaven, and at the fame time the NeceJJity
of orthodoxly holding, that a heavenly Birth
neither is, nor can, nor ought to be within
us! For if it either is, or could, or ought
to be within us, then it could not be a brain-
iick folly to believe, that the literal Words
of Chrift had no Deceit, Falfity, or Delu-
fion in them, when he faid. Except a Man
he horn again frojn above ^ he cannot JeCy or
e?iter into the Kiiigdom of God. That is,
he cannot pofTibly have any godlike or di-
vine Goodnefs, he cannot be a Child of an
heavenly Father, but from the Nature and
Spirit of his heavenly Father brought to a|

realBirth of Life in him. Now if, with-'

out this divine Birth, all that we have in us
is but fallen Adam, a Birth of Sin, tht Fic(h,,
and the Devil, if the Power of this heavenlyj


[ H3 ]
Birth is all the Power of Goodnefs that Is,
or was, or ever can be in a Son of Adam j
and if Logic, Learning, and Criticifm are
almofl every where let in high Places, to
pronounce and prove it to he mc?re Enthu-
fiafm and fpiritual Phrenz)^, what Wonder
is it if Folly of Dodrine, Wickednefs of
Life, Lufis of the Fle(li, Profanenefs of Spi-
rit Wantonnefs of Wit, Contempt of Good-
nefs and Frofejjion of Chridianity, ihould all
of them feem to have their full EJlabliJldment
among us ?

What Wonder, If Sacraments, Church-
Prayers and Preachings, leave high and low,
learned and unlearned. Men and Vv'omen,
Priefts and People, as unaltered in all their
aged Vices, as they leave Children unchanged
in their Childifli Follies ? For where ihz one
only Fountain of Life and Goodnefs is for-
faken, where the Seed of the divine Birth
is not alive, and going forwards in the Birth,
all the Difference between Man and Maa
is as Nothing v.'ith Refped; to the Kingdom

of God. It matters not what Name is

given to the old earthly Man of Adam's be(^
tial Flefh and Blood, whether he be called
a zealous Churchman^ a .(liiT-necked "Jew, a
polite civilized Heathen, or a grave Infidel -,
under all thefe Names, the unregenerat^' old
Man has but one and the lame Nature,
v/ithout any other Difference but that which
K 3 Tmey

[ H4r ]

Time, and P/acg, Educatio?i, Complexion, Hy^
pocrify, and worldly Wifdom happen to make
in him. By fuch a one, whether he be
Papifl:, or Proteflant, the Gofpel is only kept
as a Book, and all that is within it is only
fo much Condemnation to the Keeper, juit
as the old Man, a 'Jew, has kept the Book
of the Law and Prophets, only to be more
fully condemned by them.

That the Jcvvifh and Chriflian Church
fland at this Day in the fame Kind of Apo-
flacy, or fallen State, muft be manifeft to
every one, that will not fhut his Eyes againfi:
it. Why are the Jews in a fallen State ?
It is becaufe they have refufed Him, who in
his whole Procefs was the Truth, the Sub-
ilance, the Life, and Fulfilling of all that
which was outwardly taught, and prefcribed
in their Law and Prophets.

But is it not as eafy to fee, that the whole
Chriftian Church are in a fallen State, and
for the fame Reafon, becaufe they are fallen
or turned away from that Holy Spirit who
was promifed, and given to be the one only
Power, Life, and Fulfilling of all that
which was outwardly taught, and prefcribed
by the Gofpel. For the Holy Spirit to
come was juffc the fame ALL, and FUL-
FILLING of the whole Gofpel, as a Chrift
to come was the All, and the FulJiUing of
the Law.—' — The Jew therefore with his


[ 145 ] _

Old Teflament, not owning Chrift in all his
Procefs to be the Truth and Life, and Ful-
filler of their Law, is juft in that fame
Apoftafy, as the Chriftian with his New
Teftamcnt, not owning the holy Spirit in all
his Operations, to be his only Light, Guide,
and Governor. ■ 'For as all Types and Fi-
gures in the Law were but empty Shadows
without Chrift's being the Life and Power
of them, fo all that is written in the Gof-
pel is but dead Letter, unlefs the Holy Spi-
rit in Man be the living Reader, the living
Rememberer, and the living Doer of them.
Therefore, where the Holy Spirit is not thus
owned and received, as the whole Power and
Life of the Gofpel State, it is no Marvel,
that Chridians have no more of Gofpel Vir-
tues, than the Jews have of Patriarchal Ho-
linefs, or that the fame Lufts and Vices
which profper among Jews, (hould break
forth with as much Strength in fallen
Chriftendom. For the New Teftament not
ending in the Coming of the holy Spirit,
with Fullnefs of Power over Sin and Hell,
and the Devil, is but the fame, and no bet-
ter a Help to Heaven^ than the Old Tefta-
ment without the Coming of a Meffiah.—-
Need I now fay any more, to demonftratc
the Truth of that vv'hich I firH: faid was
the one Thing abfolutely effential, and only
available to Man's Salvation, namely, the

[ 146 1
SPIRIT of God brought again to his FIRST
POWER of LIFE IN US. This was the
Glory of Man's Creation, :ind this alone can

be the Glory of his Redemption. All

btfides this, that palTes for a Time betwixt
G.jd and Man, be it what it will, (hews only
our Fall and Diftance from God, and in
its beft Stite has only the Nature of a good
Road, which is only good, becaufe that

which we want is at the End of it.

Whilft God calls us by various outward
Diipenfations, by creaturely Things, figura-
tive Inftitutions, &c, it is a full Proof, that
we are not yet in our true State, or that
Union with God which is intended by our

God faid to MofeSj Put off thy Shoes, for
the Place whereon thouftandeji is holy Ground,
Now this which God laid to Mofs, is only
that very fame Thing, which Circumcifion,
the Law, Sacrifices, and Sacraments fay to
Man. They are in themfelves nothing elfe
but outward Significations of inward impu-
rity, and loft Holinefs^ and can do no more
in themfelves, but intimate, point, and direct
to an inward Life and new Birth from above,
that is to be fought after.

But here lies the great Miflake, or rather
idolatrous Abufe of all God's outward Dif-
penfations. — They are taken for the Thing
itfelf, for the Truth and Eflence of Religion.


[ H7 3
That which the learned Jews did with the
outward Letter of their Law, that lame
do learned Chriftians with the outward Let-
ter of their Gofpel. — Why did the Jevvidi
Church fo furioufly and ohftinately cry out
againfl: Chrift, Let hini be crucified? it was
becaufe their letter-learned Ears, their world-
ly Spirit, and Temple-Orthodoxy, would not
bear to hear of an inward Saviour, not bear
to hear of being born again of his Spirits
of eating his Fleib, and drinking his Blood,
of his dwelling in them, ar.d They in Him.
— — To have their Law of Ordinances, their
TemplQ-Fomp Junk into fuch a Fuljilling

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Online LibraryWilliam LawThe works of the Reverend William Law (Volume 9) → online text (page 12 of 28)