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Thus have I given you my thoughts as brief as I could concerning what you propounded unto me, and blesse the Lord that you ministred occasion to look into the text. However we are set apart as a forlorn people in the eyes of, if by the world, yet doubt I not, but our God hath singled us out for other ends and uses, who hath put us into the Isle of Patmos, or among the nation of the dead, or deadly, (as the word signifies) to reveal unto us the great mysteries of his Kingdome, that we may declare unto those that now be here, how to have their hope in God, $. that it may be told unto our childrens children that noble work that he hath wrought jor us in our Lord Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever Amen.
Your loving husband in bonds, and yet free,
Dlvers Letters were written to friends in answer to questions, and resolution of Scriptures, which now are not at hand; otherwise we are very free to publish them to be seen of all, that the wise hearted might iudge of what our spirits and practises rellished, and how they were imployed in the time of our durance amongst these men, that were so eagerly minded to make us blasphemers, that so they might take away our lives, as a part of the glory, and beautification of their Religion.
Only we desire the Readers pains to take a view of one other Letter, in answer to a friend, who seemed to be troubled about that Scripture, in Iohn 6. 53, verse, what the meaning of it might be, desiring resolution therein, since we arrived in England.
The words are these. Then lesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the jlesh of the sonne of man, and drinke his blood, ye have no life in you. TN these words consider, first the occasion of them. Secondly, the summe of them, and thirdly the parts.
First lor the summe, it is a divine sentence exclusive, of all men, from the life and spirit of God, save only such as doe eat the flesh of the sonne of man, and drinke his blood.
Secondly, the parts of them for order sake are foure. First the occasion of this sentence, in these words, then Jesus said unto them; secondly, the confirmation of this sentence, laid down in these words, verily, verily; thirdly, the manner of the sentence, contained in these words, I say unto you, fourthly, the sentence it selfe, excluding all from the life of God, such only excepted as doe eat the flesh of the sonne of man, and drinke his blood.
For the first, which is the occasion of this divine sentence;
that Vol. IV.—No. 6. 25
that is, the reasonings within themselves, which the Jewes had in the operations of their naturall hearts, upon the delivering of this manner of doctrine unto them, even by the sonne of God himselje, implyed in this word (Then) looking back upon the verse immediately going before, from which Christ takes occasion to utter this sentence; whence we observe, That the word of God takes occasion, to utter and make it selfe manifest, even from the naturall reasonings, and argumentations framed in mens minds; though they are not the cause, yet they are the occasion of the manifestation of it, even as the truth, rightcousnessc, power, and authority that is in God, breedeth occasionally, feare, terrour, jealousie, and wrath, in mens hearts and minds, though these excellencies that are in God, are no proper cause hereof, but onely an occasion, without which they would not be; For if there were no Iudge, the Malefactor would not have terrour; even so, the very naturall reasonings of mens hearts, are the occasions of the manifestation of the word of God in us, but no proper cause of it, for the cause is only in God himselfc; but without such reasonings, and Characteristicall impressions in mans mind, the word of God could never have been implanted, written, or translated in us, whereby we come to have the argumentations, and conclusions oj sonnes of God, and not simply, or mcerly of creatures in our minds, being once enlightned by him who is God, and the Father oj lights, where ever it appeareth: So that the soule of man is of farre greater sublimitie, and naturall excellencie in its creation, then any other creature under heaven ever had vouchsafed unto it; So that there is an titter impossibility that any creature should receive the impressions of God, but man alone.
This is a large field to walk in, for according to the variety of the reasonings of the mind of man by nature, which is set forth in all those wayes, wherein men have walked, and manifested themselves in this present world, such is that wonderfull Epistle of Iesus Christ, in the various writing aiid expression of it in the souls, hearts, and lives of the Saints that are in light through lesus Christ; instance in one for all, the spirit of a naturall father reasons thus, if my child ask bread (to supply nature in the suppressing of hunger) 1 cannot put a stone into his mouth, (that were cruelty) but bread; if so be that I have it or can procure it; if the child ask fish, the father cannot put n serpent into his bosome to bite and sting him, but somewhat to cure and refresh him, if he have it. Now do but change this argument into the way of Christ, and let God be the father, ther, and my self the child, and then is God, not man, the father; the bread heavenly and not from the earth; the writing, reasoning or argument, divine and eternall, not humane and temporary; and so the reasonings and dictates of our spirits are translated into the arguments and dictates of the Spirit of God, and the arguments and dictates of the Spirit of God are translated into a mind and spirit that speaks the very same things naturally in it self, though onely in a way of death, through its naturall ignorance,- that now it speaketh in that way of lifet through that light and knowledge that is in the Lord; and thus, Christ by sinne condemnes sin in the flesh: for by those reasonings wherewith we justifie our selves naturally, through that ignorance that naturally is in us, by the very same arguments and reasonings we condemn our selves, and Justine the Lord, through that light and knowledge we have in him by lesus Christ.
2 The second thing to be observed, is the certainty of this sentence laid down in the form of an oath, verily, verily, that is, so it is or so it shall be, as if he should say Amen, Amen, so it is and so it shall be without alteration or change, and in that the word is doubled, it is for the certainty of the thing, as loseph said of Pharaohs dreame, and of no lesse certainty is all true exposition and interpretation of holy Scripture, whatever men may dream as Pharaoh did and knew not the meaning of it, and speak at uncertainties not being resolved whether things may come to passe now or then, or fall out to be thus, or so in the things of God; for the same spirit of truth and certainty, that gives the Prophesie, Proverbe, Parable, and advise, that records the History, or gives sentence divine, must also interpret, expound, and declare the meaning thereof; else is the Booke shut and sealed up unto us; great folly therefore to conclude of certaintie of Scripture, and of no infallibility in the interpretation thereof; For no more then we know the truth of an interpretation, no more doe we know the truth and certainty of any History, Prophesie, Proverbe, or Parable, which is propounded unto us, but take things upon report, as we doe other Chronologies of this world, having only the traditions of men for the ground of our worship of God.
The third thing, is the manner of pronunciation of the sentence, I say unto you, or as the word is, I say (in) you; the word used here, translated (I say) signifies such a saying as a Iudge speaks upon the Bench, when he gives sentence in a cause, upon due proofe and evidence, which stands fast in Law, being irrevocable; such is the saying and speech of Christ, the truth whereof can never be altered; and whereas he saith, I say unto you, or as the word is, I say (in) you, it signifies that what ever the Saints utter in point of Religion, it is, and must be, the voice of the Sonne of God, and not of themselves; so that as he suffereth in them, else can hee have no death at all, and then no Saviour; even so he speaks in them, or else hath no voice, nor language at all; and therefore without them, no Revealer of the will of his Father; for where Christ is silent, there can be no Revelation; therefore is he the word, or expression of the Father; and what he saith of him, he saith it in them: therefore he saith, I say in you, as in that very Epistle, or writing, wherein I expresse my self in the Father unto the world, for my Father and I are one.
The fourth thing to be observed, is the sentence it selfe, excluding all from the life of God, such only excepted as doe eat the flesh of the sonne of man, and drinke his blood; wherein observe five things briefly, first why he is called the 2. Sonne of man, secondly, what is meant by his
3- flesh and blood in this place; thirdly, what we are
4. to understand by eating and drinking; fourthly,
5. what is meant by life in this place; and fifthly how we are to understand, that exception or limitation,
seeing That of our selves we are not able to thinke a good thought, how can we then performe such a weighty worthy, and unknown action, that is no lesse then life it selfe, in the doing of it.
For the first, viz. why he is called the Sonne of man?
Answ. Not only, nor properly, because he had a soule and a body as all men have, which indeed was good in the creation, and so man is called the sonne of Ood: But he is called the son of man, because he is so produced and brought forth, as none can be, but such as proceed of man alone: Nor can he be a Saviour, but in way of such production and son-ship, for Christ in respect of his death (without which no Saviour)'\s brought forth and produced no other way, but only in, and by man; for there is no death to be heard of in God, nor can he bring forth or produce of himselfe, any thing that is deadly, for he is that Fountaine of life; yea, life it selfe, in the abstract; nor can it be proper, or competrble to the Sonne of God, to be brought forth in his death, in any, No, nor in all other creatures in the world, but only in man; for as no other creature in the creation was made in the