George Fox’s use of Conscience
Source: Gospel of Truth Demonstrated volume 1
1. Thou that lovest that light, which Christ hath enlightened thee withal, thou bringest thy works to the light, that thy deeds may be proved that they are wrought in God ; and he that walks in the light, there is no occasion of stumbling in him ; it teacheth righteousness and holiness ; it will keep thee from lieing, and not let thee lie, and keep thee in tenderness of conscience towards God and man. and never let thee swear ; it will check thee if thou dost ... pg. 15
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And dwelling in the light, there is no occasion at all of stumbling, for all things are discovered with the light : thou that lovest it, here is thy teacher •* when thou art walking abroad, it is present with thee in thy bosom ; thou needest not to say, lo here, or lo there : and as thou liest . in thy bed it is present to teach thee, and judge thy wandering mind, which would wander abroad, and thy high thoughts and imaginations, and makes them subject ; for following thy thoughts thou art quickly lost. But dwelling in this light, it will discover to thee the body of sin, and thy corruptions, and fallen estate, where thou art, and multitude of thoughts : in that light which shews thee all this, stand, neither go to the right hand, nor to the left : here is patience exercised, here is thy will subjected, here thou wilt see the mercies of God made manifest in death : here thou wilt see the drinking of the waters of Shiloah, which run softly, and the promises of God fulfilled, which are to the seed, which seed is Christ : here thou wilt find a saviour, and the election thou wilt come to know, and the reprobation, and what is cast from God, and what enters : he that can own me here, and receive my testimony into his heart, the immortal seed is born up, and his own will thrust forth, for it is not him that willeth, nor him that runneth, but the election obtaineth it, and God that shews mercy ; for the first step of peace is to stand still in the light (which discovers things contrary to it) for power and strength to stand against that nature which the light dis covers: here grace grows, here is God alone glorified and exalted, and the unknown truth, unknown to the world, made manifest, which draws up that which lies in the prison, and refresheth it in time, up to God, out of time, through time.
Whom God loves, he loves to the end, where the eternal unity is, there is all peace, all clean, no jar, who are all of one mind, hid from the world's wisdom, knowledge, comprehension, and thoughts which can never enter, as it is written, the world thy wisdom knows not God, and he is coming to confound the wisdom of the wise. And the church in God, is not in imitation, gathered from the letter, nor is a high-flown people in their imaginations, but are they who are born again of the im mortal seed, by the word of God, which lives and endures for ever, which the world knows not ; for the word cuts asunder, hews down all wickedness, corruption, pride, and honour of men, that all the honour and glory may be given alone to God : he hews down the first birth, that he may establish the second, and raise up the second ; and the word of the Lord is a fire, burns up all the corruptions, burns up all that is hewn down, and as an hammer to beat down, that nothing can stand it ; and this is the word by which the saints are born again ; you are born again by the immortal word, which lives and endures for ever, and feeding upon the milk of the word, which word is God, which word became flesh, and dwelt among us ; so he (Christ) is the head of the church, and they are lively stones : but all you now who put the letter for the word, and have got it in your minds, and gather assemblies by it ; this you cannot witness, and it is ignorance for you to say, the letter is the word ; when the letter saith, God is the word ; and it is a lie to speak and say, the steeple-house is the church ; or to say, they that are gathered by the form of the letter, is the church of God ; for the church, is the pillar and ground of truth, gathered by the eternal power that was before letter was ; and all who are in this church, as it is called of the world, and live in the comprehension of the letter, and the earthly part yet standing, there is devilishness in your minds, and earthliness, and pride, and tilth ; do but hearken to that light in thy conscience, and it will let thee see so: and while those are standing, such sacrifice God ac cepts not, and praises (while nature is standing) God accepts not, which is Cain's, to which God has no respect, but to Abel's. pg. 18,19
3. Thou wilt say, thou knowest in thy conscience that drunkenness is sin, here thou lovest darkness rather than the light that shews it thee, and lying, and swearing, and cursed speaking is sin, and yet thou followest it, and pleasures, there thou lovest darkness rather than the light that shews thee them, because thy deeds are evil ; and there thou hast learned thy condemnation ; when God's righteousness shall be revealed in flames of fire, thou shalt witness I speak truth. Thou knowest theft is sin, and all unrighteousness God forbids ; thou wilt say something in thy conscience tells thee so ; if thou hearken to that, it will exercise thy conscience, and bring thee to repentance. pg. 18
4. Oh shameless men, that tell people the letter is the word, and buy and sell it for money, which is a declaration of the word : and the grace is free, which hath appeared to all men, which is the saints' teacher, and you need not have any other teacher, if you own the grace, which shews your ungodliness and worldly lusts ; this grace will teach you to deny them, and the light which hath enlightened every one that comes into the world ; there's every one of your condemnation in particular that hates it, and there's every one of your teacher that loves it ; which is but one, and will open all the figures, and the parables and types to you ; and waiting in it, it will guide you to God, there is your teacher ; but there is your condemnation who hate it : every one of you shall eternally witness this; to that which should exercise your conscience do I appeal, for now the mighty day, of the Lord is coming ; meet him, by putting off your works of darkness. pg. 25
5. To that in your conscience I appeal, which Christ hath enlightened you withal, which calls you to repentance, which shews you your evil deeds, which will be your teacher, owning and loving it; and your condemnation, hating it. Now you have time prize it ; this is the day of your visitation.pg 31
6. … when the book of conscience is opened, in your own mouths ye shall be judged, therefore take warning … past, and the plagues of God are poured upon you, who hate to be rer formed by that light in your conscience ; when God calls you continually to repentance, ye hear not his voice, but trust in your own fancies and dreams, and lieing divinations, and so hate the light, for if you love it, it would bring you to repentance, and the fear of the Lord ; and the fear of the Lord is to depart from all sin and wickedness, and all evil, and all respecting of persons, for thou that dost, respects not God's law, which forbids it ; for he that doth respect persons transgresses the law, and is convinced as a transgressor, and commits sin ; thou that dost not own this light, which is according to the law of God, which respects no man's person, that in thy conscience, if thou lovest it and hearkenest to it, it will exalt God alone ; ye proud ones at this may stumble, but to that in your consciences, which should exercise it, I appeal. pg 32,33
7. To The Unlearned Outwardly
To all you that are unlearned outwardly, of the letter, that cannot read the scripture outwardly, to you I have a word from the Lord to speak ; which is, Christ saith, I have given to every one a measure, according to their ability ; this is the measure, the light which is pure, which doth convince thee, and if thou dost take heed to this light, that is scripture within thee ; as a man should give, or a king should give to his subjects, or to them that are under him, every one a measure of the outward ; so Jesus Christ the king, gives everyone a measure of the inward, according to their ability ; as the king doth outwardly according to their ability, and so that is a figure to thee, and if thou waitest in this measure, and improve thy measure, and be faithful in thy measure to God who hath given it thee, then thou comest to be a servant to the king Jesus Christ; as the servant outwardly doth improve his outward measure, and serve the king outwardly, so thou comest to improve thy inward, that is a figure to thee ; so figures are spoken to the carnal part in man.
And as the light opens and exerciseth thy conscience, it will open to thee parables and figures, and it will let thee see invisible things, which are clearly seen by that which is invisible in thee, which are clearly seen since the creation of the world, that doth declare the eternal power and Godhead ; that which is invisible is the light within thee, which he who is invisible hath given thee a measure of, that will let thee see thy heart to be stony; and as stones without thee of the like nature, and the highway ground without thee, so thy heart is highway ground ; and as thorny ground without thee, so thy heart is as thorny ground ; and as thou walkest up and down, it will let thee see the rough way without thee, and rough way within thee ; and as thou walkest in the way full of briars and thorns without thee, so crooked ways within thee it will let see ; as there are briars without thee, so there are briars within thee ; and as serpents without thee, so the nature of serpents within thee ; as vipers without thee, so the nature of vipers within thee ; and all this lodgeth upon the earth ; the earth without thee, so the earth within thee ; as lions without thee, so the nature of lions within thee ; trees without thee, so thou art the nature of a tree which riseth out of the earth ; as trees grow out of the earth without thee, trees within thee ; as forests without thee, so the wilderness in thy heart ; these things doth the scripture speak of; who had the light spoke forth these parables, to that nature in men and women : this light lets thee see, who hatest the light : as fat bulls without thee, feeding the flesh, thou art as a fat bull, who only feedest the flesh ; as here are dogs and swine without thee, thou art a dog that bitest and devourest, and barkest, there is thy figure that barkest ; as swine without thee, thou art a swine wallowing in the mire ; and as a foul house without thee, thou art the house; as a candle lighted up in the house without thee, the candle is lighted up in thy heart, which is the spirit of the Lord, and thou wilt see the house foul, there is thy figure.
As tall cedars without thee, thou wilt see thyself a tall cedar, who livest without the truth, spreading thyself: and as strong oaks without thee, thou in thy strength wilt see thyself as a strong oak, who art full of earth, and livest in thy power and dignity ; and as horses without thee, thou who livest in earth and filth, and lust, thou art as a horse neighing up and down, this the light will let thee, sec ; as asses without thee, snuff ing up their noses upon the mountains, thou art lifted up in thy high- mindedness, and full of pride and wildness. thou wilt see thyself to be as a wild ass ; and as the grass without thee, which is green for awhile, thou wilt see thyself to be as the grass that grows upon the earth, which is green for awhile, but is suddenly cut down ; the light within thee will let thee see these things ; and as cutting down without thee with a sickle, so cutting thee down ; as reaping without thee, so reaping thee down, hewing the wicked : here thou mayest learn thy figure, who art reaping and mowing, as thou art walking in the field, thou mayest read scripture ; as flowers are beautiful for a time, so thou that art famous, thou that art beautiful in thy glory, thou art as fading flowers, there thou mayest learn thy figure ; this light will let thee see the good ground without thee, so are they who are the good heart , plowing up without thee, so plowing up the fallow ground within thee ; as thou hearest the thunder without thee, so thou mayest hear the thunder within thee ; the voice without, so the voice within thee; these are figures: as the earthquake without thee, so earthquake within thee; and as mountains with out thee, so mountains within thee ; as hail-stones without thee, so hail stones within thee ; as wolves without thee, so the nature of wolves within thee ; here thou canst go no way but thou mayest read thy figure.
As beasts without thee, so thou art the nature of brute beasts, that turnest from the light of God in. thee ; as the canker without thee eating, so the canker within ; as the sea without thee, so the wicked are as the sea, the like nature of the sea within thee ; as foaming without thee, so foaming within ; as harvest without thee, so harvest within, who come to see with the invisible eye, all they that mind the light shall see another harvest; as there are many sowing the seed without, that lies under the clods, so shalt thou see the seed that lieth under the clods in thee ; and as the summer without thee, so are the children of God brought into the summer, where there is joy and peace, and are brought out of the world ; and as singing of birds without thee, so are they that are brought out of ihe winter ; the world is a figure to them ; as a turtle-dove without thee, that is a figure who comes to this joyful land ; as doves without thee, nature of doves within ; as lambs without thee, the nature of lambg within ; as sheep without thee, so the nature of sheep within ; and as goats without thee, the nature of goats within ; now the light of God gave forth all these figures, like unto that nature in man, and of what the saints should enjoy ; and this light will let thee see, as there are fowls without thee who have nests, so thou who art flown above the truth, art as a fowl that hath a nest, the nature of fowls within : and as there are dragons that devour without thee, so there is the nature of dragons that devours the righteous, and acts contrary to that pure prin ciple in thy conscience ; and as a bed of sorrow without thee, so thou must be brought (that harloted from the truth) into the bed of sorrow within. And as there is a widow without thee, which hath not a hus band, so thou art a widow which hath not Jesus Christ, who followest such priests as are called of men masters ; as a garden without thee, and dressing it without, so is Christ and his spouse the saints : as there is a weeding without thee, so the weeding of the weeds in the heart : thistles without thee, the nature of thistles within thee; sour grapes without thee, thou that are turned from the truth, hast the nature of sour grapes in thee : as thou seest the wild grapes without thee, which set the children's teeth on edge without thee, so they set their teeth on edge, who arc growing in the earth, and take off that which acts con trary to the light, and the light will let you see it ; as the night without thee and darkness, so there is night within : and as stars without thee, so there are stars within thee ; as moon without thee, so there is moon within thee : and as clouds without thee, so there are clouds within thee. These are all figures ; and as the sun without thee, so the sun of righte ousness arising with healing in his wings within thee. All who mind the measure which God hath given you, it will open unto you these outward figures which God spake, and will teach you ; as you go up and down you shall read your figures ; as covering without you, so there is covering within ; woe to him that is covered, and not with the spirit of the Lord ; and as fire and an oven without thee, and as stubble without thee, all you proud, and all you wicked are as stubble to be consumed in the fire, as fire doth the stubble.
Now this light will shew you these figures : here thou mayest read scriptures thou that lovest the light ; thou that hatest this light canst not see these figures. But it is the invisible that opens these, that gave them forth ; and here thou that art unlearned in the letter, mayest read the scripture, and as the secret chambers without thee, hearken to the light within thee ; and it will let thee see the secret places, where the retired place, the secret chambers are ; and as a prison without thee, so a prison within, where the seed of God lies ; and as there is threshing without thee, it will let thee see threshing within thee ; chaff without thee, the chaff within ; wheat without thee, so there is wheat within : this light of God which gave forth the scripture, this light of God according to its measure will open the scripture to thee ; for man bein g drove into the earth, and the earth being above the seed ; so as the earth without thee, so the earth within thee ; the Lord speaking low things, comparisons like to that nature in man ; that man may look upon the creation with that which is invisible, and there read himself; there thou mayest see wherever thou goest. pg. 34 - 37
8. pure principle in thy conscience ; pg. 36
9. And this is the condemnation of the world, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are, evil ; and thou that sayest he doth not enlighten every one that cometh into the world, and there thou art a false prophet, and a witness against Christ ; and thou that sayest the grace of God hath not appeared to all men to teach them, thou art he that turnest the grace of Cod into wantonness ; and to thee the grace hath appeared, for that is grace that shews the ungodliness and worldly lusts, and there thou goest to make the apostle a liar, when the grace of God, he saith, (which we witness,) hath appeared to all men, which teacheth us to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live godly, and soberly, and righteously in this present world ; and this grace hath appeared to thee who livest wickedly and ungodly, and art of this present world ; to that in thy conscience I appeal, which thou shalt eternally witness, for to it the grace cometh and appears ; and when the book of conscience is opened, all men shall be judged out of it : and here thou that sayest every one hath not the light in his conscience to exercise it, thou goest about to make God unjust ; for the light which lets man see sin and evil, is a perfect light of God ; and thou that sayest every one hath not a measure of light within them, to shew them all their works and actions which they do, thou goest about to make God unjust, and unrighteous, and to keep the creature in darkness, for God saith he will give to every one a reward according to their works ; and if he had not a light how should he see his works, and how should the world be judged in righteousness? pg 39
10. And whereas we are accused for not owning magistracy ; justice we own for conscience sake ; for that light which is in the conscience, loves equity, and righteousness, and justice, and leads out of all evil, and un- cleanness ; for let every soul be subject to the higher power, for all power is of God,ft and the powers of God our souls are subject unto ; for he that resisteth that, resisteth the ordinance of God ; but who lives in drunkenness, in pride, in covetousness, murder, lust and uncleanness, their souls are not subject to the higher power, but resist it, and that nature we do deny, and justify that which cuts it down : we own honour and set it up ; and honour all men in the Lord ; but as for respecting persons we deny, for he that respects persons, commits sin, and is a trangressor of the law. For to respect a proud man, because he hath a gold ring on his finger, and fine apparel, such respects we deny, for the scriptures deny the same ;* and to set up a great man which hath abundance of earth, joining field to field, and land to land, and respect such above the poor, this is an evil eye ;f for God cries woe unto such, for God hath made all of one mould, and one blood, to dwell upon the face of the earth, and he is no respecter of persons ;J and who are in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is without respect of persons, for it is but one, and makes all one, one seed, one soul, one heart, one mind, in one God, father of all, over all, blessed for ever : and this we do witness (praised be the Lord) to be fulfilled, which all the holy men of God did witness forth, a good conscience, and therefore we have a cloud of witnesses which are recorded in the scriptures.§ pgs. 45,46
11. Where fore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but for conscience sake, so the light which turncth from the evil, and the powers and rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickednesses in high places and principalities, the soul it brings to be subject to the higher power for conscience sake, and to own the minister of God, which is for good, which is in the power, which who resists, brings to himself damnation, who to the evil doers is a terror, for the power of God turns against them that go from the light, and this is the power, that no man's person doth respect. pg. 88
12. And all that profess a relation one to another, and love and friendship with the tongue, and in heart deceive one another, and cozen and cheat one another, and lie, and dissemble one with another, all such relations we deny, and have a witness in your conscience against it : and such as profess religion, or worship, or humility, righteousness, and the scripture, Christ and the prophets' words, and live out of their life, and live in envy and malice, and yet profess you have a relation to Christ, and God, whom you have not seen, and you love him, and do not love them whom you have seen, such relations we, do deny ; and all such as cry up your experiences, high notions, manifestations, as you call them, dispen sations as you call them, and live in pride, strife, and envy, debates, derision, scorns, loftiness, high-mindedness, you be out of the light, and out of the way, in corners, and out of the pure relation, we have a witness in your conscience against those things, which lets you see what you possess, and will let you profess no more if to it you hearken, which turns from the world and the relations therein, for all who believe not the light, and are not to it come, have a love, but it is in the world, and a relation, but it is in the world, which is enmity to God, so that relation which is enmity, is denied with the light, that love which is enmity, is denied with the light, which leads to the pure relation, which envies not, where the destroyer and devourer is rebuked. pg. 203
13. III. And let no one be put to death for cattle, or money, or any such outward things, for by the law of God they were to restore four-fold, and if they had it not, to be sold for their theft ; and so let them restore ; and the apostle saith in the gospel, " let him that stole, steal no more, but labour in the thing that is good, so let him live that he may repent." These things lay upon me to write to you ; and let no man be imprisoned, or persecuted, because that for conscience sake they cannot swear, Matt. 5, but obeys Christ's commands, and the apostles' doctrine, that saith, " swear not at all, lest they should fall into condemnation of the devil, and evil," Jam, 5, but speaks truth, and doth truth and justice at yea and nay in any places they are put in, or court, according to Christ and the apostles' commands, who is our Lord and Master. IV.
And let none be persecuted because they cannot for conscience sake towards God, put off their hats, and respect men's persons, at which many hath been imprisoned and fined, which hath been like the phari- sees, a mark of unbelievers, that be from the witness in themselves, John 5, such as seeks the honour that is from above only, that will never stain, we would have all to be clothed with that, and honour all men in the Lord, and have all men in esteem, and say, that they that rule well in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, are worthy of double honour; for every one that hath murder in his heart, may give honour with the hat deceitfully.
V. And let none be persecuted for not maintaining a ministry that they know in their conscience is not of God, which destroys both edification and comfort, quencheth the spirit, and limiteth the Holy One, and despiseth prophesying,-/ that is, if any thing be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace; this was order in the true church; for ye may all prophesy one by one, and this is according to the apostles' doctrine, (which is disorder among the contrary,) Cor. 1. 14, and Peter said, Acts the 2d, and Joel 2, " that the Lord would pour out his spirit upon all flesh, and his sons and his daughters should prophesy," which many witness, glory and honour be to the Lord God forever. And meek Moses said, " he would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and stopped and rebuked him that complained of them." Numb. 11. 29. pg. 264
14. Beyond sea, in Holland, the powers of the earth, and magistrates, that knows our Friends cannot swear for conscience sakes, does not force them, nor impose fines upon them, neither imprison them who keeps to yea and nay according to Christ's doctrine. And Christ Jesus saith, " swear not at all." Matt. ;" pg. 268
15. And such are they that receive not God's messengers, and ambassadors, nor their Saviour Christ, the covenant of light, life and power with God, in which covenant, we have unity one with another; and our honour is from above which we seek, and the other honour is below, which God layeth in the dust ; and we cannot respect persons, which if we do, we are convinced of the law of God as transgressors; and the higher powers we own, which goes over all sin and unrighteousness, and transgression, and the devil the author of it, to which higher power, our souls are subject for conscience sake, which is for the praise of them that do well. pg. 274
16. " Now the consciences of the weak," saith the apostle, " must not be emboldened for to do such things which another doth, which they have not liberty in themselves to do, lest the consciences of the weak be wounded, and so they perish through another's knowledge, for whom Christ hath died." Now this was not called nor looked upon by the apostle to be true wisdom, nor good judgment ; for when ye sin against your brethren, you wound their consciences, so you sin against Christ. So that is a sin against Christ concluded, which wounds the consciences of any, to lead, or teach, or force, or compel any contrary to their consciences, their weak consciences ; this is a sin against Christ, and a bringing people in a perishing condition, and to lose the state of a good conscience. And likewise to lead people contrary to their faith, (that which is not of faith is of sin) lead, or force, or compel contrary to their faith, and if they yield, they may come to make shipwreck of their faith and a good conscience, and then are they unserviceable in their generation, both to God and man. Therefore, how often was the testimony of the apostle to keep faith and a good conscience, and his exhortation to the saints ; but how many have made shipwreck of both ? and who keeps faith and a good conscience ? they are not against the higher power, but are subject to that for conscience sake, which punisheth the evildoer ; for that is it which makes disturbances in the nations, and kingdoms, and to this higher power to be subject for conscience sake, and not for wrath ; for it is the will of God, which keeps down the evildoer,, who makes shipwreck of faith and a good conscience. Now a king's safety, or an emperor's, or ruler's safety lieth in God, and his protection is his power, and that which preserveth him, is his wisdom, the wisdom of God, being preserved in his spirit to give him true knowledge and understanding, to put a difference betwixt the precious and the vile, betwixt such as the law was made for as a terror to, and such as it was not made for, but to whom it is a praise. And as touching religion, it is for their nobility, that there be universal liberty for what people soever, let them speak their minds, let there be places and houses set forth where every man may speak his mind, and judgment, and opinion forth ; for the king had better let men speak it forth, than let it boil in their hearts and grow to a birth ; and those that are sober men, and wise men, ministers of the gospel, let them inform and instruct, with meekness ; for the man of God must have patience, with spiritual weapons, not with carnal, by force and compulsion, but with love ; and this is the way to overcome, and let him not quench the spirit, nor limit the people of the Lord, but stop all such as would do so, and that would force men to act contrary to their faith and consciences, which is to commit sin, and to the weakening and perishing of them, as in 2 Cor. 1. 8. pgs. 277,278
17. Therefore, moderation, temperance, and sobriety is good ; but perse cution was ever blind, and so that doth not foresee, nor see things present ; and the apostles' command was, that they should not judge one anoth/er about days and meats, but that every one should be fully persuaded in his own mind, that was the counsel of the. apostle, which did not say they should persecute and force about such things, but judged such as were compelling the Romans to observe such things, both Galatians and Romans, and he told them that the kingdom of heaven did not stand in meat, and drink, and days. And he that in these things served Christ, was accepted of God, and approved of men ; therefore they were not accepted that did judge one another about such things, as meats, drinks, and days ; and he rebukes their judgment and bids them judge this rather, that they did not lay a stumbling block in one another's way ; and this is for all true christians to mind, that be of the true faith and foundation, which the apostles and saints were in, in the primitive times, which minds to keep faith and a good conscience. And Christ saith, " ye are the light of the world, ye are the salt of the earth," to his disciples, his scholars ; and he saith, " let your light shine before men :" therefore if they must have been quenched and limit ed, and that the apostles might not have spoken because they were fisher men, and poor men, but the priests and doctors only have spoken ; then had they not obeyed Christ's command, and spread the truth abroad, their Father had not been glorified, men had not seen their good works, for heaven and earth must pass away, but not one jot or tittle of his word must pass till all be fulfilled. So except the righteousness of the christians exceeds the righteous ness of the Jews and the pharisees, who killed and persecuted about religion, they shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven, for the righteousness of the christians is Christ Jesus, whom God loves, and sent into the world, not to condemn the world, but that through him they might have life. And furthermore he saith to his disciples, " love enemies," and if you love them that love you again, there is no difference betwixt you and pharisees< for that made and makes the difference, to love such as did hate them, and persecute them. And Christ came to call sinners and blasphemers to repentance, and did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them ; and he rebuked his disciples, who would have had fire come down from heaven to con sume them that were contrary to them, and also told his disciples they did not know what spirit they were of. Therefore they which .know what spirit they are of, comes to the mind of Christ which saves men's lives, and seeks not the revenging nor the destroying of men's lives, but as Christ said, " Father forgive them, they know not what they do." • Therefore they that do revenge themselves, and doth persecute, and be avenged of others, doth not do as they would be done by, and doth not love enemies, and doth not do the law and the prophets, and doth not know what spirit they are of. And Christ saith, " when ye pray, use no vain repetitions as do the heathen, who think to be heard through much speaking," which many hath said this prayer in Christendom, but the practice is wanting, " forgive * us our debts, (thus they ask God, and pray to him whom they have transgressed and sinned against) as we forgive our debts," so they will be forgiven as they do forgive ; now will not this oblige all men to forgive if they will be forgiven themselves ? which will stop all the hands of persecution. Now where is this practice in Christendom, men forgiving others' transgressions as freely as they would have the Lord forgive them, and this to beg of God, and practise, but this hath been often said, but the life is wanting, and that is the difference betwixt us and the world, the life, and such as talk and doth not practise. And this is the cause of so much strife, debate, and revenge, men can not forgive, so they stand bound in their sins, they cannot forgive men that trespass against them, though nevertheless they would be christians, and say these words with their lips, " forgive us, O Lord, as we do forgive them," (this is the form of sacrifice,) so to have God forgive them their trespasses, as they do forgive other men their trespasses ; so by this how many wilfully and wickedly perish in their sins. If people be forced and driven contrary to their own consciences, gift and proportion of faith, to make shipwreck of both, they go out of the bounds of humanity, and course of nature, into unreasonableness, and setting the whole course of nature on fire, where all the members are unruly and out of order, from the tongue, hand, lip, to the foot ; and it is said, the unreasonable man hath not faith; therefore the way to bring people into unreasonableness, and to set the whole course of nature on fire, is to bring and force to act contrary to their own consciences, and contrary to their measure of faith, and what is not of faith is sin : therefore to keep people in the reasonableness, is to let them have their faith, and not act contrary to it, nor contrary to a good conscience, that keeps them both in reasonableness, and nature in its course, and their members in order. Who are in the wisdom of God, that is pure and gentle from above, mind these things. pgs. 280-282
17. … so faith keeps the good conscience, being in the mystery held in a pure conscience, looking to Jesus the author of it and finisher, by which faith you are saved, you are sanctified, you are justified, and the just lives, which gives the victory and access to the Lord, over that which brought the separation from God, and condemna tion in uncleanness, and not pure … pg. 288
18. … and so who are come to this, are come to the hearing of faith, and going on in the way, and on in the victory, on in the unity, and are come to the end of the law, and to the hearing of faith, there the spirit is received, and faith is in the conscience, and by their faith they have peace with God, having victory over that that made the separation betwixt them and God, and so the heirs of righteousness by faith, and are to inherit Christ Jesus. Gal. 3. pg. 289
19. As consider, in Oliver's days above three thousand suffered imprisonment, and some to death, who suffered for not swearing, and for conscience sake, as many of the martyrs in the time of the ten persecutions did, and by the papists as we do now. pg. 307
20. And Christ saith, " freely you have received, freely give ;" and " every one that thirsteth, come freely, without money, and without price." And also all your persecuting about religion, and worship, and church, and faith, and for matters of conscience towards God ; and your invent ing tortures, and racks, to imprison and torture people that do not con form to your way ; this was not the way of the apostles, nor Christ ; and so you may see that you have lost the power that Christ and the apostles were in. pg. 328
21. wherefore we must needs be subject not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake, that is, to be subject to the power that is a praise to the good, and a terror to the evil : pg. 342
22. As the apostle saith, " whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Rom. 14. 23, shewing, that the true faith is not sin, for it is that which gives the vic tory over sin, and access to God, and purifies the heart ; and therefore to bring people to that which is not of faith, is to bring them into sin, and to make them to make shipwreck of their faith, and of a good con science, seeing that the mystery of faith is held in the good and pure conscience ; therefore the true faith must have its liberty, which gives the victory, in which God is pleased, and who are of faith are of Abra ham. pg. 345
23. Here you may see the end of a persecutor and destroyer, who was against liberty of conscience, and whether is there more Mordecais or Hamans in Christendom, that would kill and destroy men because they would not stand up and bow to them, and reverence them? pg. 351
24. And here doth not the Turk give liberty of conscience, though he be a heathen ; and should not christians out-strip the Turk, and give liberty to one another to worship God? pg. 359
25. And after that Adam and Eve transgressed the law of God, God let Adam have liberty in the earth, though he had not of the paradise of God ; and so though christians cannot conform to your church in tender ness of conscience towards God, you may let them have liberty of the earth ; and though Ishmael, the wild man, had not liberty in Abraham's family, he had liberty in the wilderness. pg. 360
26. So all magistrates must make a distinction, and put a difference in this case ; for though kings' powers, and magistrates with their laws take hold upon the outward evil actions, and the outward man, the evil spirit leading of him to do evil ; but Christ, who is the King of kings, and has all power in heaven and earth, he must have the rule in the heart of the spiritual man, and God will dwell in man, and walk in man, which is his temple, and therefore he must have the rule in the conscience, and in the heart in matters of his religion, and worship, and faith, seeing God is the giver of it, and Christ is the author and finisiher of it,and the apostles themselves said, " they had not power over men's faith," which God was the giver of, and Christ the finisher of; and a man coming to subdue that evil spirit in him by the power of God, and to have it mortified, and the actions that flowed from it, then the man led by the spirit of God, he is not under the law which is made for sinners and disobedient, and not for the . righteous ; and Christ said, " christians should not exercise lordship one over another as the Gentiles had done ;" and the apostle says, " be not many masters, for you have one master, even Christ, and they were not lords over God's heritage, but they were helpers of their joy, pg. 361
27. 1 Cor. 8. " Some make conscience of an idol : an idol is nothing. And the Corinthians were not to eat meat sacrificed to idols." And so what are all your sacrifices but to idols, images, and your christ you make? and so, if an idol be nothing, then nothing can do you no good, and that which you sacrifice and offer to it, is offered to nothing, and so all comes to be confounded. And therefore, as in 1 Cor. 10, both the sacrificer and the idol is not good for any thing but for judgment. And " what agree ment hath the temple of God with the idol. 2 Cor. 6. So, if you were the temple of God, that are called christians, there would be no agree ment with your pictures, images, and idols, but shewing that you have agreement with them. Therefore you are no temples of God. 1 Thes. 1. There it is manifested, " how they were turned from idols to serve the living God :" but now it is manifest how they are turned from the living God to serve images, pictures, idols and representations, whereby it denotes you are in an unconverted estate. 2 John 5. The apostle saith, " Little children keep yourselves from idols," in his general epistle to the church ; but you that call yourselves christians have forgot this command, or at least laid it aside, and com mand your people to keep to your images, pictures, idols, and represen tations, and call them your laymen's books, and therefore you are quite degenerated from John's doctrine and command here, who command your people to keep idols, whereas John commands to keep from them. And Rev. 2. There you may see, " there were some that laid stumb ling-blocks, that taught the doctrine of Balaam; and to eat meats sacri ficed toid ols, and to commit fornication," and therefore consider, is not this the condition of you papists 1 are not you in Balaam's reward 1 are not you in your idols, and fornication, else what do you do with all those brothel-houses ?