Of the right and of the wrong going to Church, receiving the Sacraments, and Absolution.

Of the right and of the wrong going to Church, receiving the Sacraments, and Absolution.

BELOVED Brethren, we will teach you faithfully, not with flattering Lips to please the Antichrist, but from our Pearl, the Virtue, Power, and Spirit of Christ in us, from a Christian Essence and Knowledge; not from the Husk and History, but from a New-born Spirit, from Christ's Knowledge, as a Branch growing on the Vine Christ; from the Measure of that Knowledge which is opened in us, according to the Will and Counsel of God.

134. Men tie us in these Days to the History, and to the material Churches of Stone; which Churches are indeed good in their Kind, if Men did also bring the Temple of Christ into them. They teach moreover, that their Absolution is a Forgiving of Sins, and that the Supper of the Lord taketh away Sin: Also that the Spirit of God cometh into Men through their Ministry. All which hath a proper Meaning, if it was rightly understood; and if Men did not cleave merely to the Husk.

135. Many a Man goeth to Church twenty or thirty Years, heareth Sermons, receiveth the Sacraments, and heareth Absolution read or declared, and yet is as much a Beast of the Devil and Vanity at the last as at the first. A Beast goeth into the Church, and to the Supper, and a Beast cometh out from thence again.

136. How will he eat that hath no Mouth? Can any Man eat that Food which is so shut up that he cannot get it? How will he drink that can come at no Water? Or how will he hear that hath no Hearing?

137. What good End doth it answer, for me to go to the material Churches of Stone, and there fill my Ears with empty Breath? or to go to the Supper, and feed nothing but the earthly Mouth, which is mortal and corruptible? Cannot I feed and satisfy that with a Piece of Bread at Home? What good doth it to the Soul, which is an immortal Life, to have the Beastial Man observe the Form, and venerate the Shell of Christ s Institution, if it cannot obtain the Kernel thereof? For St Paul saith of the Supper, - You receive it to Condemnation, because ye discern not the Lord's Body.

138. The Covenant stands firm, and is stirred in the Use of the Institution. Christ proffereth his Spirit to us in His Word (viz., in his preached Word) and His Body and Blood in the Sacrament, and His Absolution in a brotherly Reconciliation one to another.

139. But what good doth it in a Beast to stand and listen, who hath no Hearing to receive the inward living Word, nor any Ground wherein to lay the Word, that it may bring forth Fruit? Of such Christ saith, The Devil plucketh the Word out of their Hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But how can he do so? Because the Word findeth no Place in the hearing Mind to take Root in.

140. And thus it is with Absolution also: What Benefit is it to me for one to say, I pronounce or declare to thee the Forgiveness of thy Sins, when my Soul is wholly shut up in Sin? Whosoever saith thus to a Sinner so shut up, erreth; and he that receiveth it without the Voice of God within himself confirming the same, deceiveth himself. None can forgive Sins but God only.

141. The Preacher hath not Forgiveness of Sins in his own Power; but it is the Spirit of Christ in the Voice of the Priest that hath the Power, provided the Priest himself is a Christian.

142. What good did it to those that heard Christ himself teaching on Earth, when he said, Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you Rest ? What good did this blessed Promise to those that heard it, if they laboured not, nor were heavy laden? What became of the Refreshment or Rest then? Seeing they had dead Ears, and heard only the outward Christ, and not the Word of the Divine Power; certainly they were not refreshed. Just so much good the Beastial Man hath of his Absolution and Sacraments.

143. The Covenant is open in the Sacraments; and in the Office or Ministry of teaching also the Covenant is stirred; the Soul doth receive it, but in that Property only of which the Mouth of the Soul is.

144. That is, the outward Beast receiveth Bread and Wine, which it may have as well at Home. And the fiery Soul receiveth the Testament according to its Property, viz., in the Anger of God it receiveth the Substance of the eternal World, but according to the Property of the dark World; it receiveth therefore, as the Scripture saith, to its own Judgement or Condemnation. For as the Mouth is, so is the Food which is taken in by the Mouth. And after this Manner also it is that the Wicked shall behold Christ at the last Judgement as a severe Judge; but the Saints shall behold him as a loving Immanuel.

145. God s Anger standeth open in his Testaments towards the Wicked; but towards the Saints the heavenly loving Kindness, and in it the Power of Christ in the holy Name JESUS, standeth open. What good then doth the holy Thing do to the Wicked, who cannot enjoy it? Or what is there, that can take away his Sins, when his Sin is only stirred and made manifest thereby?

146. The Sacraments do not take away Sin; neither are Sins forgiven thereby. But it is thus: When Christ ariseth, then Adam dyeth in the Essence of the Serpent; as when the Sun riseth, the Night is swallowed up in the Day, and the Night is no more: Just so are Sins forgiven.

147. The Spirit of Christ eateth of his Holy Substance, the inward Man is the Receiver of the Holy Substance; he receiveth what the Spirit of Christ bringeth into him viz., the Temple of God, Christ s Flesh and Blood. But what doth this concern a Beast? Or what doth it concern the Devils? Or the Soul that is in the Anger of God? These eat of the Heavenly Blood, that is in the Heaven wherein they dwell, which is the Abyss, or bottomless Pit.

148. And thus it is also in the Office or Ministry of Preaching: The ungodly Man heareth what the outward Soul of the outward World preacheth; that he receiveth, viz., the History; and if there be Straw or Stubble in that which is taught, he sucketh the Vanity out of that. Yea, if the Preaching be mere Calumny, Railing, and uncharitable Abuse, as is sometimes the Case, then his Soul sucketh the venomous Poison, and the murdering Cruelty of the Devil from it, wherewith it tickleth itself, and is pleased with learning how to judge and condemn others.

149. Thus if the Preacher be one that is dead, and hath no true Life in him, but soweth only Venom and Reproach proceeding out of his evil Affections, then it is the Devil that teacheth, and the Devil that heareth. Such teaching is received into a wicked heart, and bringeth forth wicked Fruits. By which Means the World is become a mere Den of murdering Devils. So that if you look among the Herd of such Teachers and Hearers, there is little to be found but Revilings, Slanderings, and Reproachings; together with Contention about Words, and Wrangling about the Husk.

150. But the Holy Ghost teacheth in the holy Teachers, and the Spirit of Christ heareth through the Soul, which is the Divine House of the Divine Sound or Voice in the holy Hearer.

151. The holy Man hath his Church in himself, wherein he heareth and teacheth. But Babel hath a Heap of Stones, into which she goeth with her seeming Holiness and real Hypocrisy. There she loved to be seen in fine Clothes, and maketh a very devout and godly Shew; the Church of Stone is her God, in which she putteth her Confidence.

152. But the holy Man hath his Church about him every where, even in himself; for he always standeth and walketh, sitteth and lyeth down in his Church. He liveth in the true Christian Church; yea, in the Temple of Christ. The Holy Ghost preacheth to him out of every Creature. Whatsoever he looketh upon, he seeth a Preacher of God therein.

153. Here now the Scoffer will say that I despise the Church Of Stone, where the Congregation meeteth; but I say that I do not. For I do but discover the hypocritical Whore of Babylon, which committeth Whoredom with the Church of Stone, and termeth herself a Christian, but is indeed a Strumpet.

154. A true Christian brings his holy Church with him into the Congregation. For the Heart is the true Church, where a Man must practise the Service of God. If I should go a thousand Times to Church, and to the Sacrament every Week, and hear Absolution declared to me every Day, and have not Christ in me, all would be false, an unprofitable Fiction and graven Image in Babel, and no forgiving of Sins.

155. A holy Man doth holy Works from the holy Strength of his Mind. The Work is not the Atonement of Reconciliation, but it is the Building which the true Spirit buildeth in his Substance; it is his Habitation. But the Fiction and Fancy is the Habitation of the false Christian, into which his Soul entereth with Dissimulation. The outward Hearing reacheth but to the outward, and worketh in the outward only; but the inward Hearing goeth into the inward, and worketh in the inward.

156. Dissemble, roar, cry, sing, preach, and teach as much as thou wilt; yet if thine inward Teacher and Hearer be not open, all is nothing but a Babel a Fiction, and a graven Image, whereby the Spirit of the outward World doth model and make to itself a graven Image in Resemblance of the inward; and maketh a Holy Shew therewith, as if he performed some divine or holy Service to God; whereas many Times in such Service and Worship, the Devil worketh mightily in the Imagination, and very much tickleth the Heart with those Things wherein the Flesh delighteth. Which indeed not seldom happeneth to the Children of God, as to their outward Man, if they do not take great Heed to themselves; so busily doth the Devil beset and sift them.

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