T H E.
H E A V E N L Y
C L O U D
N O W
B R E A K I N G
Lord Christís Ascension-Ladder Sent Down;
To shew the way to reach the Ascension, and Glorification, through the Death and Resurrection.
By J. Leade
John 20. Vers. 17 Go to my Brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; to my God, and your God.
London, Printed for the Author. 1681
E P I S T L E.
Grace, Mercy, Love, and Peace, from him who is the first begotten from the Dead.
TO all of you who rejoice to die daily out of that Life which is essenced in Sin, Curse, Bondage, and Sorrow, to such the following Treatise is commended; knowing to no other it will be pleasing, but them who have received the Spirit of Christ, that hath convinced of the necessity of dying, out of the Body of Sin, offering it up as a whole burnt Offering upon Christ our Sacred Altar. Who is it then that would grieve to die thus, to become a living Sacrifice, for so great a Joy and Glory as will hereupon follow, as will be matter of great encouragement to go forward on in spiritual dying till Sin expire, whereby secured you will be from the Serpentís Sting: Who can therewith reach no Souls that are plunged into this dying Pool, where Christ the Lord hath first moved, to purchase a full and perfect Cure; to heal every spiritual Malady which the Soul groaneth under. For which end I am commissionated, as both Servant and Friend to my Lord, and heavenly Bridegroom, to invite you to the great Supper of God, and the Lamb. A Table here is furnished, suitable to four ranks, and degrees of Persons and Spirits. The first Course that is set hereupon, is the broken, and crucified Body of our Lord Jesus. This is proper Food for dying Saints, who by eating of this spiritual Flesh, may come to have their own sinful Flesh to die, and moulder away; for it is known, and experienced, as we do daily feed upon a Crucified Christ, it devours, and gradually works away the life of Sin, and all the evil Effects of it. Whoso is wise, let them understand, and find out this Mystery, and discern, and taste the Lordís Mystical Body; which being well digested down, the Table is again spread for such, who are risen from the Dead. Now what is it comes on here? behold and see; Christ the Lord presents himself in a Paradisiacal Body, and saith, Children, here I give my risen Body, as more powerful, strong, and pleasant, to feed upon: For you it is, who have not feared to encounter the Death. Oh, what less is this, but the Marriage Feast, where the Water is turned into Wine! and by the Governour of this Feast, ye are most earnestly called upon to eat of this transmuted Body, which is so restorative, as nothing of putrefaction shall more be known in the Soulís Properties. Such sweetness, and pleasure there is in eating of this Paradisiacal Body, that all other perishing things are disdainíd, and put out of taste. What joy now is it to God the Father, to see his Table beset with risen and spiritual Souls, saying, hasten and dispatch; also from this Degree, taking off, and setting on that, which is proper for Ascension. Here now Christ the Lord comes down as a mighty Eagle-Body, rushing with out-spreading Wings, to bear and carry away the Waiters for Ascension, that with him they may go up to worship in the New Jerusalem, there for to hold the seven days Feast of Tabernacles, with all high celebration of praises. Here you may believe a Table is most richly furnished, in the most high and excellent degree, for all the Lord Christís ascending Eagles, which cannot be satisfied with any other prey, but to feed upon the glorified Body, which filled is with all the fulness of God, which flows Largely into them, whose Vessels are here prepared. Now then, in the fourth and last Ministration, What may be expected in the great Nuptial-day of this Feast, when the Holy Trinity shall descend, in the ascended Angels of Time, for the celebration of the Marriage with the Lamb and Bride? What Joys and Glorys are now renewed? for now appears the glorified Person of Christ, for a publick owning of his ascended Ones; and crieth, in his Fatherís, and his Own, and the Holy Ghostís Name, saying, These are those in whom I will be glorified; the long-sealed Fountain is broke open; the everlasting Mountain droppeth down the Powers of the Holy Ghost. Come all ye who have laboured and not fainted, and have yet kept up your Faith till this day, you are those that are to be fed and nourished with all the choice and precious Fruits of the Tree of Life, and are ordained to be those Josephs that shall give out of these Heavenly Stores, and maintain an open community to the thirsty and needy, that in a divine Hunger are, that they may also be enriched, and partake of the same Glory with you. This is the Lord Christís own Prophecy, now renewed by his Spirit, and is sure and stable, and nigh to be fulfilled in those, that shall advance on, to all of these Degrees, that are mentioned and further enlarged upon in this little Treatise following: For that Day-spring from on High, that hath visited me, would not have me to conceal those considerable Heavenly Mysteries, that I have been taught in by the Holy Unction, having well assured me, that there is a bright Star that from Heaven shall descend, and closely attend all these practical and weighty Truths revealed, and fasten them with a Golden Nail, which shall not be moved away; tho I am made to know also that this Divine Ray shall pass over some, and glide away without making any impression. The which sort I shall spare to make mention what losers they will be, by slighting and neglecting this feastival Invitation; I shall leave such to take what they will not care to find. But now to return to them who all desirous are to taste of those choice and heavenly Portions, who most readily do embrace their Lord and Bridegroomís Call to this continued Spiritual Feast. Know it, that for you, great Things are prepared in the New Jerusalem, there to have Communion in one Spiritual Body at one Table, each one according to their measure, and degree which they have attained unto, without grudging at one another: for you may see how the Lord Christ hath set himself forth in a four-fold transmutation in his heavenly Humanity, for a feeding and strengthening Life, to four sorts and ranks of Spirits, that all may participate according to their growth. 1. For new-born Babes, 2. For Children, 3. For the young Manís State, 4. For Elders or Fathers, who are come to full and perfect Age, from whom may be expected the generating Power of the Holy Ghost, to go forth for the replenishing the New Heavens and Earth. So as now ye may see here is suitable provision for every sort and degree, according to their Calling and Election in God, for Communion in one Body together. Oh why should there then arise such emulations, strife, and spiritual Wars, among the Heaven-born Spirits that should meet one another in Harmony, Love, and Unity? Great is this Evil which hath, as a Leprosy, spread over all Nations, Kindreds, and Tongues; and truly the Infection is got so deep in, as I see no cure here for, until the mighty Sealing Angels do come forth with Vials filled with the Love Oil of the Holy Ghost, to pour forth every-where that; so that the Lord Christís disjointed Body may come, Bone to his Bone, and Member to its Member; for the which we shall not cease to invocate, and daily intercede for the Holy Trinity to hasten the Saints gathering into this Unity, for which a hopeful approach there is, which I in spirit do see; for which end this is sent out as a Pilgrim to find whom it may meet with in this lonely Walk. Oh how great would be our rejoicing, to meet with some fellow Travellers herein, that are resolved in Godís Power not to grow weary or faint, till they may reach the top-step of this ascending ladder, that we may together be comforted, supporting each other, while in the travelling way, still putting off, and putting on our changeable Raiment, that we may sit down at the great Supper of the Lamb, whose Joy will be so great, that as a Bridegroom, he will come forth himself to serve us, with the new Wine of the Kingdom, that will spirit us, for the great things that are to be brought forth into manifestation; which things are now upon the working Wheel, tho it worketh hiddenly in such chosen Vessels, whom God will honour as his faithful Stewards, being intrusted with the great Secrets of his Kingdom. I shall now conclude, with all true fervour of Spirit, and Love, for the effectual operation of the Holy Ghost, to attend this whole Matter and Subject, which hath been given forth. It was my purpose, that some preceeding Openings and Revelations given to me, should have been the first-born in way of publication; but the wisdom and counsel of the most High, hath changed what was so intended, and hath ordered this first, as a preparation for the other, which also in time may come forth to disclose yet more wonderful and hidden Things, that have been under a Seal, that shall be broken up; for there is a ripe Age coming on that may be ready for their Reception. In the interim, I shall be waiting for the knowledge of such as signatured are with that high graduated Spirit, in the which I would be known and found as a Friend and Servant to my Lord Christ, and so all my fellow Members, that wait for this great Day of his appearance in his Saints. Even so prayeth yours, in him that was dead, but now liveth, for our springing Life and Joy evermore.
The Introduction to the Spiritual Dying.
THE Spirit of Wisdom, Revelation, and Prophecy, having been shed abroad abundantly, to declare many great and wonderful Mysteries now in this last Age; hath shewn also, by the same Spirit, the way for Consummation. The first passage hereunto, is through the Mystical Death, as the foot-step to the ascending Mount of the following Glory. But before I shall proceed upon this Particular, it will be necessary to let you know what hath occasioned the setting evidently before your eyes the crucified Body of Sin. Upon a deep sense that opened in me concerning the three-fold Bondage and Captivity, which the Holy and Royal Off-spring of God are groaning under, as to Spirit, Soul, and Body; the which things I being well acquainted withal in my self, could the more feelingly deplore and bewail it, on the behalf of all the Elect Seed of God: And truly, the spirit of Daniel came upon me, and set it strongly on work, and caused me to set times often apart to lament and mourn, as beholding under what a Law of Sin and tyrannical Bondage the Saints are under; in a three-fold consideration: The first from that old Serpent, which from the beginning introduced the original venom of sin, whose vigilance is to increase and keep it stirring; having great advantage, being a potent Prince in this World, from which he presents all kind of Temptations to allure withal, to prevent the Souls Restoration, by holding of it in the worldly Charms. The second Power, which under him doth rule, is the Beasts, that is as the oppressing Pharaoh, that consults to impose such weights and burdens as may wear out the Saints of the most High. The third is the Airy Region, of which it is said, he is also the Prince, having infected it with his poisonable Influences, so as the very outward Elements are corrupted, as they do contact with our outward Bodies, bringing them to know Sickness, Sorrow, and Death, with many other evil Effects. All this being set before me, my Soul in me was sorrowful unto Death, and so great was my heaviness, as if the Sin of the whole relapsed Creation had been upon me: and then with all this, there was this further aggravation of my troubles, to observe the Strife, Wars, and great Divisions that are at this day enkindled among the Sion-Professors, which is the greatest Evil under the Sunshine of the Gospel-Dispensation, and to be seriously taken in, and sorrowfully to be bewailed. The which came upon me as a very burthensome Stone, which hath lain on me very heavily; and being for some time under this exercise in mind, and spent, praying and pleading with my God, very close and constant in this mourning posture, refusing all Comforts; behold Michael, the Prince of the new and everlasting Covenant appeared unto me, speaking in these words: "I have seen thy Soulís contrition and humiliation, for the oppressed and desolated Daughter of Sion, whose hurt and wound lieth still bleeding: I am come to inform thee what is to be done, for the putting an end to all of this deplorable Captivity, which hath lasted thus long, by reason there hath been lacking such Sion-Mourners, that might be seriously affected, and inwardly afflicted for that inherent Root of Sin, as not having searched into the depth of the infecting Matter, which hath leavened the whole Man, and kept him under this tyrannical Servitude. I have waited in the Office of Mediatorship, for such Soul-afflicted Mourners to come up unto me, to spread and shew me all their internal woundings, from first to last. Let it be known, that it hath been a grief to my Spirit, that I have not been more fervently sued unto, and made use of for easing the Burdened; for there hath been a secure carelessness, that hath made them carry it lightly off. But a consumption is determined upon the whole Man of Sin, and thou hast been all well-pleasing unto me, in that thou hast presented the whole and full of the relapsed state, in a sensible and sorrowful Spirit, which is acceptable. I have also taken notice of this trouble and concern for the disunity among my own Sheepfold, whereby they have rent and divided me in Spirit, all which springs from the bitter essence of Sin. Therefore in order hereunto, do thou signify what way must be followed for restitution, and setting together my disjointed Members; which cannot be accomplished, but through the passage-gate of Death. Which from me thou art commissionated to declare, as I have revealed it to thee, and as thou hast the practical knowledge of it, being what is designed by the Father, as I am the Way unto it, to bring forth Life, and Redemption through it, which promised was from the first wound of Sin, that was introduced by the Serpent into Adam, which all fully is to be healed by conformity to the Death with me, going forward in the four-fold Process; as the inward Spiritual Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and Glorification. This I leave with thee first to publish before the other part, as the Foundation that must bring up to the Top-Ladder, that hath been given by Vision and Prophecy, to see and understand: So hereby shall the utmost Salvation be wrought out by the Mystery of Death, finishing with the following degrees, which putteth an end to all of that Evil, the Fall hath brought in, as having reserved this as the highest Wonder that is to be brought into manifestation. Go thou on, nothing doubting, having Faith in me, who will always be with thee, and also among my Mourning Flock every where:" Even so come, Lord Jesus.
Thus you are given to understand by whom I am led forward, to open and lay a sure Foundation for the new and heavenly Restoration, even in that living Word, which died out of flesh, but now ceaseth not to live to send forth his renewed Springs, and is at hand to reveal and expound all things, which may gather in the lost and scattered Flock, for the bringing them into Godís Tent and Tabernacle of Rest, which only can be, by passing through this four-fold Ministration.
I shall take them as they lie in their own Degrees and Order. First, To shew what is a spiritual inward Death that must be passed through, by such as do look for the reigning Life with Christ. And for this, it cannot be made out better, that that worthy Apostle hath done it, as you will find in the sixth and seventh Chapters of the Romans, laying down full and clear Arguments, shewing the necessity for a Spiritual Death; so as we need not doubt but it will be granted: in the next place we are to consider, how it shall be effected. I would not fright any, if I tell them, it is at the first on-set bloody Work: where-ever this Sacrificing Knife doth come, it will touch to the quick. But then consider in whose hand it is put; our Emanuelís, whose love we may well confide in, who acteth this tragical part by the Lance of his Spirit, and will fall only upon the viperous Body of Sin, to let out the very heart blood of it: so it must be, for there is no savouring that Life, that hath made all this to do, as in reference to God and our selves, spoiling and defacing that pure Angelical Image, in which the most Holy One took such delight to see his own Similitude in; But now so changed, that it may give God cause of repentance, that ever has made such an unstable Creature to grieve his Spirit; upon which account we must be driven out from his Face and Presence, to live in that awakened Principle of Good and Evil. But here is a Door of Hope opened for such as are weary and oppressed, and are willing to give up their whole degenerated Life unto Death. But you will say, If we must suffer at this rate; to what end did the Lord Christ offer himself as a Propitiation for Sin, in his own Person, if our sinful Life must go also for it? In answer to this, take notice, That tho our Lord Christ was made a visible Sacrifice for Sin; yet he never intended that should excuse any one of his Members from a conformity and fellowship with him in his Death, knowing his Death for us would not do alone, without coming by his Spirit, to put the Sin to death in our Flesh; and so jointly he becometh Salvation to the utmost, he having no sin to put to death in his own Body, and so was a living Type and Example for us to follow. But it may be still objected, Who is able to go through such a full and total death, to all that infection of sin, which the first Adam brought in? We must say, No one is sufficient, but the mighty God and Saviour, as by his Spirit coming to incarnate himself in our Flesh, who hath the Key that openeth this mystical Gate of Death, and thereby to pass us through the Vail of the Flesh: And for your comfort know, he goeth not to work violently all at once, but considers our mold and frame and allures the Soul into it by degrees, shewing and setting before it the absolute necessity for it, forcing all of love-incitements to follow him in this track of dying, despising the shame and contempt of it, as by Faith seeing what glory, honour, and immortality of Life with Christ will ensue hereupon. This is then only our business, to introvert our Life into Christ our Lord, for him to offer it up in us, through his Eternal Spirit, as he did in his own personal Body, who laid it down freely: so now he wooeth the Soul to a voluntary assignment of the whole Man of Sin for expiation; so that when the Heart and Will is gained and brought over, dying Work will not be so grievous and terrible, as may have been feared: I can assure you from my own experience, having been long and deeply exercised herein, knowing that great comforts and supports will meet you in your dying Agonies, through internal infusions, that may be felt as a burning Spirit that runneth into every part, till it giveth ease to the burthened in sin, and will not leave it, while there is any thing of an evil essence remaining, if the Soul agrees and gives consent thereunto. And truly, a well-informed Soul, that lies under any powerful constraint of Christís love can do no less, but herewithal comply, and deliver up the accursed Thing; and when it cometh to this, what a hopeful dispatch will there be for the cutting off every Member in the Body of Sin? O, where shall we find a wise and valiant Jael to smite Sisera, aiming at the Head, Life, the very Root of Sin in its original! Oh, how do I hear the echo of some good willing Spirit about me, thus saying, Seeing you have presented the necessity of Crucifixion, and the great benefits thereof; and have rightly placed the Lance of Death, as in the hand of him that hath given such a full proof of his love and naturalness unto the fallen Off-spring of Adam, We have now an open Ear to hear further what the Particulars are we must die unto, and I most readily shall herewith comply; as from the Center of Light, and experimental Knowledge, give forth a Narrative hereof, as reducing this inward Death to three several Branches. As first, The Animal, Rational, Sensitive Life. Proceed we to the first of these, which is the more gross and right-down earthly Life, consisting of a beastly Nature, of brutishness, and worldly-mindedness; loving and embracing the vain empty Honours and Riches of this Principle; bringing forth such cursed and vile Fruits as these, namely, Arrogancy, and an Evil Covetousness, Self-promotion, Wrathfulness, Slandering, Revengeful and Evil Surmisings, Cruelty, Oppression, Unmercifulness, with much more of this kind; all which is to be most deeply deplored, that such a Life as this should shew its face, where any thing of a God is known, and a Christ revealed, for redemption out of all these bitter Fruits; and that instead of dying out of them, there is a living in them; and so becoming insensible of their Weights, Fetters, and Chains, all which is a most dangerous state to continue in, and not to make haste to die out of them. But we are persuaded better things of them, who are enquiring to find out the Passage-gate of Death, knowing they dare not allow themselves to live in any one of these, but as any matter of this kind does spring unwillingly, for to Arraign, Judge, Condemn, and deliver up unto the piercing Nail of the Cross, as a testimony that they have abrogated the gross Evils, and will not cherish and harbour what the Serpent will hereby challenge place in the Soulís Essence, and will keep his Hold; Therefore on, that men in good earnest to die, will neither touch, taste, nor handle any of these poisonable Fruits.
Now we proceed to the Rational Life, which is reckoned to be a wise, sober, righteous Life, and therefore not to be laid aside, being as a King that would govern the whole concerns of the Soul, both as to heavenly and earthly Things, determining all Matters and Causes. Why then it may be alleged, if he be such a prudent Ruler, What Exceptions have you against him, that he must fall under Death? But know it, from the Lord, and that of a truth, that the Serpent lies more hid in this than the other. It is in some, as a grand Idol set up in the room of God; Nay it is so subtil in its Counsel, as you can hardly know it from the true and superior Wisdom; for it will have Righteousness for its Covering. Therefore none, but a high enlightened, and well-instructed Soul in God, can have a right discerning of this great Supplanter. And that he may be known so to be, here is a first and second Charge brought in against him. First, although it may be granted, that he carries an appearance for God, and eternal Things, and that with Zeal too; yet there is such a near alliance to the worldly Interest, and earthly Property, as there will be a holding fast in the mixed Property, putting heavenly Things in one Scale, and earthly Things in the other: if they can go upon even balance, then the Rational Spirit carries all smoothly, as wise in his Generation, not being willing to lose his part, either for Spirituals, or Temporals, but the worldly Interest shall be sure to be followed close. For if they cannot consist together, but the one must be laid down, then Wise Rationality will soon shew himself that his Birth is but from the Astral Region; it is of no higher descent, but from the Womb of fallen Time, and therefore a Spirit not to be trusted.
The second Charge we bring in against the Rational Life, is the great Enmity, that he stands in, to the Spirit of Faith, which curbs and nibs it in its first buddings. For as long as degenerated Reason lives, this Plant can never thrive or prosper; for it is ever more casting in choaking Doubts, as in the case of Nicodemus, How can a Man be born again that is old? And as in Elishaís Time, when the Famine was so grievous in Samaria; the Prophet then declaring, how Scarcity should suddenly be turned into Plenty; the unbelieving Lord of Reason presently stands up, If God should make Windows in Heaven, can this be? so as unbelief prevented him from seeing the Accomplishment. So it doth at this day; therefore if we would have any great and wonderful thing effected, either for Time or Eternity, we must shut out Reason as a treacherous Counsellor; and there is no way, but to give him up for spiritual Martyrdom, for the sharp Ax of the Spirit to do execution upon him. But you will say, This is too severe a Judgment wholly to cut him off; for he may be regenerated, and made subordinate to the Life of Faith. That indeed may be allowed upon the Animal Manís Account, to order and govern those low and terrestrial Affairs, which the fallen State hath necessitated into, if he may be bounded there, but not to climb higher: For in no case must he be admitted, as to the inward and sublime Matters of the Spirit, and Soul, because the way of its Restoration depends so much upon Faith, which crosseth the whole course and grain of Reason. All his refining and regenerating can never make him serviceable to help the Soul towards its translation for degrees of Perfection, its Birth being of an incredulous Nature, looking hereupon as unattainable for the Soul to regain what it hath lost; so here is enough to lay him aside for in all spiritual Matters: For as Rationality was not in Adam before his relapse, so he had no occasion to use subtilty or craft, all things were provided to his hand. So now in the way of our return to the more transcendent Liberty and Glory, for which the Holy Ghost, operating in the power of Faith to perfect, will admit to have nothing contributed from the Rational Spirit. Nay, the time is coming, when he shall also be put out of his Stewardship for the very outward Man; for it is very rare to find a just Steward in the use of this worldly Mammom. And therefore God will settle the Power for all blessing and increase for the bodily requirings upon the Spirit of Faith; as that in the Saints shall get up to its superiority, all of the worldly Goods which now are ingrossed, where the corrupted Reason bears rule. Therefore it will be worth our care and vigilance, in keeping our Stock, going on upon Faithís Bottom, as in reference both to heavenly and earthly Things; deposing the Rational Spirit, as to all power and claim to the superior Transactions betwixt God and the Soul; only allowed he may be for the present necessity, as a hewer of Wood and drawer of Water, till we shall discharge him upon this servile account also. Now you see what a full charge is given against the Man of Reason, which may be a sufficient inducement to die, as we are able from day to day, unto him, till fully dead. The conquest of which will produce wonderful and miraculous working Powers, which in its place and order shall be made out more fully to you.
Now we fall upon the third particular, which is the Sensitive Life; dividing it into three branches; Exterior, Interior, and Natural.
I shall begin with the Exterior; as first, the lusting Eye, that delights to please it self in visible Objects, Shadows and Figures of Mortality, minding outward adornings and settings, out of a poor piece of Mortality. These are tempting Objects for the very Heart and Mind to be tainted withal. For the outward Eye is as a wandering Star, it glides up and down to please its own unsatiableness, among all the various gross and perishing Things, that in this evil World can be found. So every depraved sense doth pursue its own vain delight and satisfaction. But of this more gross part of Sensuality, I shall not further enlarge, knowing that it hath been sufficiently set forth, and decried down by the godly and pious Ones.
I shall pass on to the Interior Sense, which is in part renewed and enlightened, so as for to escape the Pollutions, which the gross sense falls in withal; this being an inward sober sense, comprehending immortal and divine Things: but yet it is so nearly annexed to the Man of Reason, as being the very Body of that Spirit, and can have no congruity with a Life of Faith. So that here comes in a hard struggle, as to the matter and case of a Soul in its looking for Redemption out of the Body of Sin. Here now the good sense, that is awakened upon this account, will very aptly run out it self into a despondency, as seeing, feeling, and tasting the strength and bitterness of sin; so as it may raise such an uproar and mutiny in the Soul, as will not be for some considerable time quieted and allayed. But you will say, This is good and necessary to be immersed into such a deep sense of sin. It is in some degree to be granted, that an effectual sorrow for sin, is to be allowed from divine Light and Conviction; that is, awakened by the Holy Anointing: thus it was with the Saints of old, crying out to be delivered from the Body of Death and Sin. And what penitential Psalms did that Holy David in this sense make; but mind all along here was no sticking there, but soon acquitted their sense, flying up to the operating Spirit of Faith, as David and Paul did in the same case: crying, Thanks be to God, that giveth us victory through that Blood, which cleanseth from all Sin, springing from the Vein of Christís Life opening within, that washeth out the pollutions of sin. For should not a Soul hasten out of this working sense of Sensibility, it would soon be overwhelmed. So that if in the life of this good sense, any should too long abide, what an anxious and sorrowful Life would they know? Therefore what saith the Spirit of Jesus, Believe, and ye shall enter into your rest; for in sensibility, you will find none.
Now to speak to the Natural and bodily Sense, this hangs close as the Skin unto the Flesh, it affords an unwelcome constancy, as resolving not to leave the Soul, unless mortality comes to be swallowed up of Life. This sense indeed is apt and fit for such an inferior mortal state as we are fallen into; a low and earthly sense doth well agree with a low and earthly World; But oh! what enlightened Spirit, that hath been in the Divine Seeing, can take up here. For it is the great and only impediment to all of Divine Vision, Prophecy, and Revelation, (for now all three degrees of Sense we include). They are as a dark gathering Cloud upon the Center of Light, and a strong Inclosure, to keep the Spirit from passing into that Principle, where the Trinity, and all the Holy Train of Angels, Seraphims and Cherubims, do attend Godís Throne. This I soberly aver, from a particular Experience, that no Soul or Spirit can come to have a plain and open view of a glorified Personality, as seen and known in the Heavenly Spheres, but as their sensible part is suspended, and laid as in a dead sleep, during the time that it is in broad open sight, of such an express Glory. Indeed there are representations of heavenly Objects, and things in a lower degree, which may consist with the bodily sensation, as introverted into calmness, and sweet stillness. Then the Spirit of the Soul stands in a powerful capacity for divine Seeing and Hearing; and this is very frequently known, and enjoyed by Saints in this present time. But that which is the most certain knowledge, and sight, and hearing is, when the whole sensitive motion of Soul, Spirit, and Body, is entered into a transical, eternal Nothingness; then it knows, hears, and sees, as in Godís Glance, and Light of Eternity. Thus it was with Daniel, Paul, and John; they were struck out of their Senses, while the Visions lasted upon them. So it hath in these last days been witnessed, That when the Lord had any special Revelation to give forth by his chosen thereunto, how hath the Element of Reason shut up, and the Stars of sparkling Sense fallen down, as not consisting with a purer Spirit, descending from God, with great and deep Revelations, that his Mind and Word might not be adulterated, which is the more sure way for it, even through the cessation of the senses. But here doth meet me an Objection, that thus happens upon some extra-ordinary account, that any are so caught up out of their senses; but it is not expected it should be durable, as you seem to drive at. You cannot blame us if we do; for did you know what it were to be but one hour from the working motion of Sense, by which ye might really and substantially find your self entered into the very beatifical Vision of God, you would never care for to know your sense more. This doth but agree with that good saying of St. Paul, Knowing, that while we are present with the Body of Sense, we are absent from the Lord. But we shall be sober and not run you out of your sensitive Life all at once; except some sudden Shower from the Heavens shall fall and drown you, as it hath for some time done, upon the good willer hereunto, which would heartily congratulate further Witnesses hereof.
But to set by at present those great and eminent Effects of Cessation from Sense, which is not the lot of every Saint, nay, very few, that may as yet know open Vision, and yet will find their Names written in the Book of Life. But seeing it opens a Door, and makes way to have more clear knowledge, and familiar access to God, and the glorified Person of Christ, and the high Order of Angels, let this be a powerful motive, to be dying by degrees, from that Life, which is separating and eclipsing the Face of God, wherein all Peace, Joy, and assurance of Love is enjoyed. But here meets me this Question; Who is it that can die out of their own sense? For so great and glorious are the advantages of it, that if we could find the Passage-door out of them, we would not stay in the molested and troubled Sense. For this, I shall give you what hath been effected in my own experience, which I found great remedy and help in this case, as being instructed by the Spirit of Jesus herein, which brought me to famish the life of low mortal sense; first, avoiding all that might feed and nourish it up, drawing out of all multiplicity of worldly Concerns, which tendeth no higher than the exterior Life, denying every thing, which was not of an absolute necessity; for as dying to all superfluity that sense doth work upon, and you will find it will grow weak, and gradually expire, and go currently on for the anatomizing of every mutinous sense, so as there may not be so much as an evil Essence left. But indeed, while this is but doing, and not throughly done, the senses will be striving, and casting up muddy Waters, that cloud the divine Sight, and stop the inward Hearing, whilst you stay amongst the noise and throng, that from this worldly Region do all incompass. Therefore I can give you no other hopes to get victory over the sensitive Life, but by starving it, coming out from all the gross Matter which feeds it. Indeed there may be a quenching and silencing of this stirring motion, before there be an arrivement to the high degree of annihilation for fixation; which is a good introduction, and as daily exercised herein, may come at last to depose what-ever will not consist with that most excellent Life of Faith, which is the only Ministry, which the Lord Christ doth set on foot afresh now in this day. Therefore let it not be thought a strange and severe Doctrine; blessed are those that are able to receive and practice it, there will be no loss; for as this Sense dies, the fresh and supersensed Life will spring.
There is one Sense more, which we must not omit to speak something of; which is the Dolors, Pains, and Griefs of the Elementary Body, which may abide where the sinful Sense is much wrought out, which must be allowed till this corporal Figure is changed; as sensible hunger, and thirst, and want of this and that refreshing for the outward Body, carrying symptoms of mortality, impediments of this kind, may be, and yet sinless. Christ the Lord, was not without the sense of this, hanging upon his outward Corporiety; so as we cannot expect to be loosened here-from, till something else do follow; but yet carried through cheerfully in hope of the Redemption of the Body also. Here then we shall conclude, as well agreeing with that precious saying; Gal.2.20 I am crucified with Christ, yet I live, yet not I: Mind how he calleth that word back again; do not think it is I whose life did consist of the animal, rational, sensitive Being, that is worn out and dead; I live upon another Root, though I appear in this very Elementary Body. I have changed my Life of Sense for that high graduated Life of Faith, in which I please God, and am beloved, finding all acceptation with him, and therefore never desire for to know the disharmony of Sense any more. This is the victorious Triumph of a Spirit and Soul, that hath got over that low Sensibility! Here is a new Model indeed, you will say; but who is it that hath put off the Body of Sense thus conqueringly? We shall not determine who hath done it; but we may determine that except it be done, or doing, there is no Foundation laid for Resurrection or Ascension. Now then see your way, and in what you are to be exercised, in order to what is to follow, Christ the Lord hath beaten the Track, he is again returned in Spirit, with great and mighty Power to carry you through, as ye give up, and let him take your Wills, and give consent to demolish, and pluck that off, which hath been as a twisting Briar about the Lily, which is to be transplanted, when got free from the Valley of Death, to the Mount of Immortality, and open Vision of Godís Face in Glory. Thus you have had the true dimensions, what it is to be died unto, which will finish and complete the whole Mystery of Death: pronounce we may blessing, joy, and glory to the Overcomers. Who can shew these dying Marks, as hath been described? Who shall now keep them from the presence of God and the Lamb, for right they will have to possess and inherit all things, in heights above, and depths beneath?
One thing more we shall further add, which may be worthy of our taking notice of; That there is a space of Time limited for such, who have accomplished this mystical Death, to be buried. As Mortals when they die, they bury their Dead out of sight: so it is with those who are departed out of the Body of Sin; there is for them a quick dispatch by those who are yet alive to all that which they are dead to. Take them under what fellowship or form you will, there is no agreement between the living and the dead; the dead are very unpleasant Company, as being senseless and actless, as to Matters and Things relating to the fallen Life and Principle; and so being unserviceable, they may well be forgotten and deserted by Persons, Fellowships, and Societies, that are out of the dying Order. We need not think much at it; for was it not thus with the Lord Christ, when he went to suffer and die? Did not most of them, with whom he was conversant, forsake him? and some followed afar off, keeping only a love-inspection on him, as John & two or three more others were afraid they could not bear to see the Crucifixion. So it was, and so it is at this day; there is a kind of an horror, to see one a dying from all pleasant joys and things delectable, and invitable, and reckoned lawful to be enjoyed; but a Soul and Spirit that hath been under Christís Discipline, understands other things, and does know that the Fall hath brought in the Poison of the Curse, which hath spread it self through the whole Creation. Paradise is hid, and fled, and cannot be known, but to the risen from the Dead; and therefore look from one end of the Earth to the other, and gather up all into one scene or representation for allurement, and alas! what is in it, but bundles of thorney Cares, that lie at the root of every pleasant Flower, that suck away the life and sweetness of it? Therefore in a true sense it is a matter of Joy and Glory, to die out of that Principle, where we live as banished exiles from God, in curse, woe, and misery! and then why should it be such a reproach and shame, to suffer crucifixion hereunto? Oh that the face of this Covering might be taken off, especially among those that are Fellow-members of the dying Body of the Lord Jesus. It is meet they should encourage, and not despise it in one another; it is enough for the worldly Spirit to cast contempt, but fellow Saints should rejoice in nothing more, than to see a crucified Christ in one another. There is great need of all strengthening Angels to encourage to hold out upon one open Stage; the on-set of inward Fears and Temptations will not be wanting at such a dying hour. Suggestings will rise from within, and speak in the suffering Soul, as the Thief did to Christ; If thou beest the Son of God, save thy self: Let the Deity secure and save the Humanity, and let it not die so ignominiously. But all this must not move a living Christ in a dying Soul, who sees deeper, and beyond the visible appearance, and therefore will go through it, and despise the Despisers. But now here follows a grave silence, in which there is great questioning, and a demur among the very disciplehood concerning the Resurrection, most doubting; so as here comes a black Cloud of Dissertion; while no Resurrection appears, Censures and Judgments run from one to another. We expected, saith one to another, that great things would have been shewn forth upon the finishing such a Course; that a present Redemption would follow. Thus it must be suffered and debated a while; for Christ is as buried in the Soul out of sight, feeling and sensation, which is the highest degree of Spiritual Death, far more proving than the dying to the whole sinful, and worldly Life. As Christ the Lord committed his Spirit to the Father upon the giving up of the Ghost; so it is with the dying Soul, its Spirit is given up, and hid with God in Christ, and so the Soul may remain in a Grave, silence, darkness, and confinement, under the weighty Stone, and cannot move, till the Spirit returns from the Father and the Son, to give its quickening Life for a glorious Resurrection. Therefore fear not, but be comforted from the Lord ye holy Souls. Whoever have wrought out Death, or are upon working out, according to what hath been described in the three-fold dimensions, you have no more cause to doubt of your Resurrection, than Christ in his own Person had; for ye are hereby become Christís dead Body and therefore the same Spirit which raised him, must and will raise up such as are dead in him; but some there are that may lie longer bound in the Grave than others; but then it is, because there is not a thorough Death in all members and parts of the Body of Sin; for else they could not be long detained, the Witnesses must rise at the third day. Therefore by what hath been declared, let us examine our selves , by shewing forth the Lordís Death till he come, for life-quickening. But it may be said, while this is doing, and not finished; What if the mortal Death come and prevent the manifestation of it in this World? Why, if it should, nothing that hath been wrought shall suffer loss upon this account; for after dissolution, the Soul immediately ascends to be joined to that Body, that doth consist of the Angels which are of the Resurrection, who before-hand are translated with Moses, Enoch, and Elias. Therefore so far as any have attained, it will be accounted for, in that invisible World; and so will have no cause to repent, except it be that they did not set upon the dying Work sooner, for carrying of Time before them, for the finishing with Christ the whole Process. But now we will leave our Dead in the Lord, as those that have ceased from their own Works, and are in the still rest with God; and although the living Inhabitants of Mortality and Time, do leave and forsake them, they need not be careful, for Christís own Life-guard of Angels are about them, to comfort, watch, and secure, and at the third day to roll away the Stone, to make way for the Dead to come forth. And who shall them first know and see, but the faithful Lovers and Believers, that have watched the Sepulchre, and would not go from it; attending there, in Faith and Hope, for their Friends return from the reproachful Death, to a Life all new and incorruptible, joyous and glorious? This is the hidden Treasure that lieth in the darkness of Death, and will be a Jewel, even to them that find it; and though the Grave may obscure the beauty and sparkling shine of it; yet know, it will appear in a three-fold transparency. As it hath died to the three-fold Life of Degeneratedness; so it shall be quickened and restored into the Glory of the Father, Son and Spirit.
Thus you have had the Passover of the Lamb dressed, and set before you, and commended to you by the Lord, the true Passover, through such as he hath here-for chosen, and set apart to receive and give forth, as from Light and Experimental Knowledge. For I would not be a taken-up Instrument to declare of Death, unless I had first tasted it; and I must give it this good Word and Credit, that although it was tart and bitter in the beginning, so as I had some struggle to get it down; yet through the daily exercise of my Mind, and bent of my Will hereunto, through and from the Holy Spiritís Conviction, I was made thoroughly resolved in it, and then it went on pleasant and smooth, and the grievousness of it was turned into joyousness. This I speak, not by way of boasting, but for comfort, and encouragement to such as are in fear to adventure to go through all the parts and degrees of it.
I shall conclude this Subject with this Petition; Lord Jesus increase the number of thy dying Flock, and that the Earth may not cover her Slain ever, but cast out her Dead to spring up in thy Life, O dear Emanuel.
Let none now fear, or supprest be,
If they shall see
Death from the Life of Christ to spring,
To put an end to sense of Sin,
And to bring in the supernatural Thing.
What welcome News do our Ears hear?
We need not fear;
Though to us fierce approach each Death,
Stops Rational and Sensual Breath;
And no Pulse more beats in us here beneath.
This our Hope, and Way we count,
To Neboís Mount:
In which bright, and glorious place,
We shall behold the shining Face
Of God, with all those Saints whoíave run Deathís Race.
The Universal Lawís gone forth,
Of excellent worth:
All thatís born in Sin must die,
Natural, and Spiritually;
Or else no part have in Christís Monarchy.
Who would not leave his mortal Breath
To embrace Death?
What are dying Sighs, or Groans?
But for a moment are those Moans,
When Love new Life brings to those Holy Ones.
What we see, to you we boast;
In Deathís no Ghost
Tí affright, as it supposíd may be;
A Feast Ďtis to the Faithful free,
Who shall through it to rise a new Life see.
Here follows the Resurrection.
NOW having laid the Foundation-Stone with Christ in Death, the Arch-Angelís Trumpet soundeth for a Resurrection in Spirit, Soul and Body. There hath been a foregoing Resurrection in the Spirit, which hath been frequently known, being more sublime, apt and ready to fly and mount up to its own Ether. This I have experienced, while my Soul hath been under bindings, heavy, and ponderous. But now for the soulish part to get up, is a more difficult case, because it cannot rise, till it hath a Spiritual Body all new organizíd. For although sown in Death, a natural sinful Body, dishonourable, and vile, and must lie in the mystical Grave, till all of this be mouldered away; That so, both in new Matter and Form, it may rise and come forth according to the working of the Heavenly Mystery. For herein a Soul is to be wholly passive, can contribute nothing to this new Frame and Model, all that it is to do, is to cease to do. God knows how to give to the Spiritual Seed a Body after its own Kind, that it may be suitably cloathed upon; for the honour of the Resurrection, of which, I shall now present to you a Plat-form in these Particulars.
First; How it is raised, and by whom; and to what State; and the inscription which it beareth after the Resurrection, to be known from others.
To the first Particular; which is, How, and after what manner the Dead in Christ are raised; There is a secret infused Breath, after the manner as is expressed by Ezekiel, that gave Life to the dry Bones, which do very properly figure out the Resurrection of the Soul. To which we may add, that which the Lord Christ also discoursed to Nicodemus, of the Birth of the Spiritual Man, as born again from the Dead; so indiscernably it cometh, as none can see how this pure Breath entereth in, but as it is felt for a quickening Life. For as a Child that in the natural Womb lieth passive, and contributes nothing to its own Life, so it is with one that is born from the Dead, as to the matter of its new consistency, which is from the superior and incorruptible Element, which fashioned is within this gross bodily Figure, as airy, thin, and of a transparent purity, in which the Spirit and Soul moveth: But upon the first awakening to Life, it may stir but weakly, so as a Soul may not discern its own quickening Life, because of stirring so slowly; but yet all the Motions are working in a right and due order, increasing in strength from the eternal Root and Fountain of Life, and so comes on daily to grow strong in every organical Faculty. And as it died to the corrupt, animal, rational, sensitive Life, and hath lost all of that; so it hath regained to a thousand fold advantage, by the Resurrection, into a new Principle: which we shall make out, and illustrate for motive hereunto.
1. Here is felt a Divine Animation of Life, that runneth into pure, high union with the Holy Trinity; there it concenters, as finding all pleasurable, and satiating Delights, which it can know no bounds nor excess in. The chaste Eye may be allowed all fully to gratify it self upon Heavenly Objects, without control; nay, now it may be taken with its own Beauty and Comeliness: whereas before in the other state, there was matter of abhorrency, having reason enough to despise its own Image, but now to admire it self, as having put on the fine Robe of the Resurrection. And whereas self-love was in the old Body to be abrogated and denied, here it is all lawful to be owned, for now it loves the Holy Trinity in itself, and every spiritual Member belonging to that eternal Body as itself, and as to all Dignification and Riches, Fulness, take it as to what lieth within the Circle of the Superior Heavens, those precious things which the Sun and Moon, that in the one pure Element is fixed, do put forth for Blessing and Increase; and then as to all of this lower Orb, as cause requires, for any use of them; they are all made subservient to the Resurrection-State; the Holy and Just One can well confide in a Soul, that is fully risen, to make him Ruler over much; knowing of what Spiritual Temper it is raised up in, that will not abuse its Fruit, either as to eternal or temporal Revenues; here is no engrossing in a partial Spirit, to any thing wherein it is intrusted, as a Steward for God; as giving all freely out in love-Community.
In the next place; What is to be considered for the loss of the subtil Spirit of Reason, that managed all things by exterior Craft; For this comes now in the high graduated sound Wisdom, which cometh from the Father of Light, by the which he made all that of a visible consistency is, out of Nothing. This outvies, and puts Rationality to the blush, which moved all upon the Wheel of earthly and visible Things, that included are under the Curse; for this hath no other Matter to work upon. But the superior Wisdom, that connexed is to the Body of the Resurrection, that cooperateth with the eternal living Word, that createth all things anew, calling those things to be, which were not; there is no Matter or Cause obvious to any outward Eye; for the Matter it works upon, is not gross or tangible, but all Aetherial and Spiritual, where God singly is the only productive Cause and Ground, through effectual operation, for the bringing forth into Essences, and Substances; according as this Wisdom shall in the Spirit and Soul lay its Platform in order to the restoring that Virgin Nature, and Godlike Simplicity, that have been deflowered through the subtilty of Reason. It is not to be said what Wisdom cannot do, as it is in Marriage-union with Godís Omnipotency; where then it will not go forth naked, but all cloathed with Power and Strength, to effect strange and marvellous Things, by way of Plantation and Regulation of this old Creation, that now lieth drowned in the Earthly Craft, and Babylonish Confusion; all which must fall, as this day of Wisdomís Resurrection comes to be manifested; for what shall be able to stand, when she opens her Principle, where the Powers of Eternal Nature will all be set awork to cloath the old face of Things, with a new spring of unfadable Glory? Oh, there is great need for this day of Wisdomís Resurrection, that so this old corrupt figure of Things may pass away; for the which many Prophecies we have had from Christ the Lord so many Ages past, as signified by the beloved John, testifying the desolation that must come upon the great City Babylon, where all the worldly Merchandizes have been carried on ! Oh what a sudden destruction will come upon it, as in one Hour, when that the Mighty Angels of Godís Wisdom shall descend, having great power to burn and consume, shake and dissolve the earthly Frame of Things; at which the Children of the Resurrection shall not be dismayed, but rejoice to see this long expected day, through which all shall be governed by the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation.
Now we come to the third Particular, which is the restoring of the lost Senses in a supernatural way. For a risen Soul and Spirit have all the sensation of a Spiritual Body; this is very high and unconceivable, to any, except it be to such as have been caught up, as out of the earthly Body, (as is mentioned by Paul) to know something of it before-hand; which may happen before the full and total Resurrection be attained; as there are some that have, and so can the more knowingly define it, after what manner this divine Sensation doth shew forth it self. It is an advance, upon some consideration, beyond the Life of Faith, and all Visions and Representations, which were through that medium: For it now ceaseth to see through that Glass, which presents heavenly Objects at distance, and so but dimly; but in this Spiritual Body of the Resurrection, it sees in the Light of Godís Eye, as being translated into that principle, where one perpetual everlasting Day doth shine, where it doth behold greatness, goodness, and purity, as being entered into the same. This is a broad open sight, that do change from Glory to Glory; this was it that made that worthy Apostle, having known something of this Glory, when he was caught up to the third Heaven, press so after the Resurrection, to be in that Body, in which he might know no more absence from the Lord; for in this sense he speaketh, 2Cor.5.7. We yet live by Faith, and not by immediate Sight; and although Faith is the great moving Wheel that must run us up to this Resurrection, as its Operation is in the Power of God; but then it hath done its Work, having received the end of our Faith, which is the Resurrection of our Spirit, Soul and Body; so as now it may be given us to understand, that spiritual Sensation upon this account excells the Life of Faith, for it is a Translation, where we do see, Eye to Eye, and hear as we are heard, and know as known; what of eternal and heavenly Objects were invisible, are most clearly obvious hereby, exercising every particular Sense, as Tasting, and Feeling, the essential Power, Goodness, and Sweetness of a God, whereby unutterable pleasantness is enjoyíd without the least shadow of interrupting Fear or Sorrow. When once got beyond the Resurrection-probation then it can go out of Time into Mansions of Eternity, as often as it pleaseth. But it may be questioned, Whether any shall ever arrive to such a Resurrection, before this visible Body be dissolved, as the manner of all the Earth is to die? For this, we shall Answer you in Christís own words, That such as shall be accounted worthy to obtain that World, and the Resurrection from the Dead, they can die no more, for they are equal unto the Angels. Luke 20.35,36. So that Mortality may come to be swallowed up in the Body of the Resurrection. To which agreeth that saying of Paul: All shall not die the mortal death, but be changed, even this visible and vile Body transfigured: Therefore it is no incredulous thing though it hath yet been so rarely seen, because the way here-unto hath not been walked in, as the Spirit of Christ hath shewn; for few there are that have got through the Death, and fewer that have reached the Resurrection: But the Time is at hand now, when as the principal Shepherd will quicken the slow-pacíd of his own Flock, that are yet so much behind in the dying, and rising-Work; who will give forth of his Spirit in greater abundance, for the finishing of this great Mystery. This is verily the strange and new Thing that will spring, in which an everlasting God will be evidently seen, for highest wonder and praise. All this now considered, who would not only and altogether set hard on, upon the Eagle rising Body, which the Lord our only Life and Resurrection is compared unto? But, queried yet further, That if we could see any precedent for it in this present Time, it might gain a belief for this great Thing you declare of. Answer, Whether or no there be any in this Age , that can give proof of such a Resurrection? We shall not decide that, but hope and believe, what is not yet made manifest may in time be. For the mortal Figure being upon a rising Spirit and Soul, and not changed, must necessarily be a cloud, and a hiding of the excellent Perfections that are there, but if nothing of this kind could be produced, this must not make void the true Doctrine of the Resurrection. It is sufficient that Christ the First Fruits, is risen for us to follow after.
We shall add one more Evidence mentioned in the Revelation of John, of the raising the two Witnesses, of which there are various Interpretations: but that which may be grounded upon as sure and firm, is, Christ in his Deity and Humanity, in which he riseth in the Soul, where he hath been slain, and hath lain as dead in the properties of degenerated Nature; which cleareth by whom we do come to be raised, even by and through the mighty Power of the Deity.
Now it follows, to what we are to be raised unto. Is it not to sit in heavenly Places with Christ? and to have all our conversation there, and to have nothing more to do with the state of things below? For the Angels of the Resurrection are now only for high Communion & Fellowship with the Trinity, and those of their own Spiritual raised Order. They can contract no low Unions with Creatures, nor walk among the Dead, nor immerse themselves with any thing, while they go in and out among Mortals, that should lessen the dignification they are raised unto; for there is a Probation-time betwixt Resurrection and Ascension, as our Lord Jesus herein did show us in his own Person, who went in and out forty days, before he ascended into his high Throne of Glorification, taking care to secure himself from being touched: No, a beloved Mary must stand off at this Time, lest she should detain from Ascension. All of which deportment of our Lord is for our Example, to be very cautious what we touch, taste, or handle, of those perishing Things that we are risen from; or permitting any indeared Thing, to lay the weight of their Concerns upon us; for here is Enochís Life so walking with God, as not to be. But you will say, How can such a high raised Life consist with the present Model, and Circumstances of Things in this Creation, where there must be care, industry, and trafficking in these low things, for the service of themselves and one another? This indeed is a considerable Mountain, which hath kept down Christís risen Life in his Saints, which Faith in God must only remove. But to answer this grand Objection, you are to understand, That this is a state of Life wholly peculiar to such, who are born again from the Dead: For it is not to be expected, that others can altogether live so untouched, and unconcerned in the Affairs of this mortal Life; But them who are in special called out of the worldly multiplicities, and imploys, for to be Godís anointed Priests, and Prophets, and Messengers, to act and live after such a Spiritual way of Consecrations, different from others, that are not assigned to this holy Separation, although with Moses it might be desired, that the whole Heritage of God were ordained Prophets, and instituted for more high and heavenly Services, which we may hope shall be wrought out in time, by the mighty redeeming hand of our Sion-King, who will first begin with them who freely can leave all rudimental things, and give up for holy Dedication, as is expedient for all, who of this high Calling and Profession would come to be. I must say it is great, it is worthy, and exceeding joyous, and honourable; blessed are those that can get discharged from all low and earthly Impediments, to follow and mind this Heavenly Vocation, which turns to the best of accounts; which in the conclusion will prove the most gainful Imploy and Calling.
But to return where left; As to the watchful wary deportment that is required betwixt Resurrection and Ascension; for it is the last Probation, therefore it concerns the risen Soul to be very cautious, to keep up to the Celestial Region, improving all those sublime Faculties that it is raised in. We may observe, that our Lord, after his Resurrection, did shew himself only to the Brethren going in and out, giving among them but short stays, having other Worlds and Spheres, to visit the Inhabitants there: So it is with the risen in Christ, who are his living Witnesses, who do appear to their Fellow Saints, to their great astonishment; declaring, the Lord is indeed risen in them: and where a doubtful Spirit is that doth question the truth thereof, they are able to shew the apparent marks for evidence. But you will ask, What are they, that so we may not be deceived in them? First, You may know them by their swift Motion, and sublime Faculties, going in and out as Strangers, no longer dwellers upon the Earth: their Home is properly with the Lord, and can with their invisible Spirit and Body, pass through divers unknown Spheres, some times more immediate with the Deity; and other times with the Orders of glorified Angels, and Saints of high Degree, that have got beyond Mortality; and then again return to be seen and known of such as are in this lower Orb. The truth is, they are so spiritually greatened by the birth of the Resurrection, that they cannot but despise all mortal, terrestrial appearances of things in this low World; although while living in it, subject to the just and necessary things of it, in all moderation; while corporiety in its visible Figure does remain: for Christ himself did in his human Body appear after his Resurrection, and did eat common Food with his Disciples, to prove all this might consist with a risen Life. Then again you may know the risen in Christ, by their designing only great and noble Enterprises; they having got so much of Godís Nature into them; that they are straitened till they bring it forth into manifestation, in way of fruitful Powers, acting Godís great wonders upon the visible Stage of this World; in order to which, they always do keep the Ladder of Ascension steady in their eye, knowing their stay is not to be long before their way will be made to the everlasting burning Throne of Godís open Face; as being thus qualified, they do stand in all readiness for Ascension. But we may add this by way of Information, that there are many degrees of risings, and liftings up, in order hereunto, which often may be so strongly beset with a watch of unbelieving Spirits, which may beat the Resurrection-life back. This has been known by such as have been hard pressing forward to be of the Resurrection-block. In this I speak my own Experience, as finding it the greatest Impede; for when the Mystery of the Resurrection was first opened unto me, and incitements from my Lord, Christ set home upon me, that as he raised up himself personally, so he would me spiritually. No sooner did I begin to entertain a belief herein, but I had Legions of Spirits came about me to make all void, as not attainable in this present time, discouraging and weakening my Faith; but the mighty God stood up in me as a flaming Wall, driving back that floating sea of Sensibility, and invading Spirits, shutting and binding them out of his own risen Body. Now then by all this that hath been declared and proved by Scripture and Experience, we hope it may fasten a belief of this Truth, and leave a provocation for getting up upon this Resurrection-step, by which an high advance and great assurance is given, for the third Staff of Jacobís Ladder to set foot upon, of which we shall go forward on to describe.
YE Angels rise from Death, come up yet higher.
Mount to the place of the Seraphick Quire.
And there, without all anguish, and all pain,
In God your Temple full of Joys remain.
Ye who the Vails of Flesh have broken through,
Your blissful risen Glory still pursue.
Oh ye High-born, arisen from the Dead !
You now are raisíd, to live with Christ, your Head.
No more below cast down on things your Eye,
That in the worldly Dust do groveling lie:
For Soul, and Spirit, still must upward flee,
And seek the Bosom of the Deity.
What Trumpetís this, which soundeth now so loud?
Comes not the sound from the Etherial Cloud?
Calling the dead in Christ to come away,
And to shake off the heavy fleshly Clay?
Up, up ye Souls, that shine like Morning bright,
From whence is banishíd quite black Death and Night.
Come now with me, a Secret Iíle unfold,
Godís glorious Body you shall all behold !
Your Senses all shall new enlightened be,
And exercised in Divinity:
In glorious Heaven, where low and mortal sense,
In risen Spirits, shall be banishíd thence.
Here follows the Tract of Ascension.
HAVING passed through and got over the Resurrection-step, and held out the Probation-hour; the Heavens do open, and the bright Cloud breaks, as the open Gate of Ascension, to receive the Spirit and Soul that hath put on its risen Body; it is now to be parted from the Earth, and carried up to have conversation with the Holy Trinity, and all those princely Dignities in heavenly Places. Oh what Angelical Sounds, and winding-up Powers, that do make a Soul all restless, till it comes to its own prepared Mansion! With what Love-Zeal is it now fired withal? Every motion is all ascending towards its own Center; for now it is very painful to live any space of Time, out from the Heavenly Element, and it is judged as expedient for a risen Soul to depart mystically and spiritually, as the Lord Christ did personally; nothing must or can long detain it. All Dues, Debts, and Demands being cleared in Christ, the Life and Resurrection, who also hath ransomed the Soul from Death, so as that the Evil Accuser can bring no charge against a risen Spirit, having once died to his Kingdom; no nor any of his Worldly Agents, that would readily lay wait of earthly Cares, to keep down from mounting up to the Lambís Throne; but they have nothing to do in that Principle, in which ascending Spirits are centeríd, as moving straight forward, not looking back or down any more to what they are now redeemed from; keeping pace and maintaining their Walks with the Holy Trinity, being so refreshed and satisfied, both as to Place and Company, that they mind and study no other thing, but to become as fixed Pillars, no more to come out, being answered there to the fulness of all Joy.
But here it may be queried, With what Body do you ascend? If your mortal Figure be yet confined to stay in this visible World, How shall it be discerned when you do ascend?
In Answer to this; No gross earthly Eye, that looks at things according to outward appearances, can indeed discern the Lordís Mystical Body, which is put on for Ascension; no one can be in the true Perceivance, but such as are in the same free and light Principle; others are not to see it or know it, till they come to descend in the Tabernacle-Body of the Holy-Ghost; then they shall be confessed and owned by them, who are doubtful and unbelieving, as questioning all of this internal Ascension; because not known experimentally. But blessed are they who know themselves in it, and are received as out of sight, to be very much with Jesus their Lord. How is that, you will say, to be out of sight, and yet in sight amongst mortals? You are to understand it thus; That the Soul and Spirit in the secret Divine Body, which it puts on in the Resurrection, is so highly soaring and moving, as the Cherubim-Wheels mentioned by Ezekiel, lifted up by the Spirit, and ascending from the Earth, as neither caring or minding worldly Matters more. It hath no patience to demur its stay, such worthy and glorious Objects, as all amazing it doth in the Spiritís Eye behold, that it is so enkindled in flames of Love-desire, as it can take in no check nor control to detard it from Ascension. Oh ! what is given us for to descry, though yet appearing in a mortal Vehicle, as relating to Ascension; at the entrance of which Gate do stand numerous Angels and Seraphims, with Flags of Victory, to give to each ascended Spirit; shouting with Joy of Salvation, that is now wrought out: Then doth this Holy and Heavenly Train usher in the Ascended and bring them close up to the Throne of the Lamb, who all in Jasper Light and Glory doth appear, rising up from his Throne-Seat them for to meet, and shews each one their reserved Crowns, and Thrones, given them for their Instalment. Oh we must be silent, for we can find no words to set forth what Love, Joys, and Embraces, do mutually pass betwixt the Lord Christ, and the ascended Ones. No measuring out of any Heights, and Lengths, and Breadths of Love, which is enjoyed here in the highest Solacements; it may be well and truly said, it passeth all understanding. But this is not all, there is yet much more to be done and conferred by the Father of Ascending Spirits, whom the Lord Christ presents unto him, and saith, Behold, and see them whom thou gavest me, are come up after me, being no more of the World than I am: Therefore, O Father, confer upon them what thou hast done upon me. At which sight and request, the supreme presence of Glory seems all well-pleased to behold the effect of Christís travel through Death and Sorrow, thus to save and redeem. Upon this then there is a Council held jointly by the Holy Trinity, all agreeing in one, as to what Immunities and Gifts that are to be conferred, with all those promised Rewards, which do belong to the Conquerors, for the encouragement of the rest of the Elect Flock to pursue Ascension also. But here the Lord, and great High Priest, as more nearly entrusted, acts the part of an Advocate, and makes Demands from God the Father, for all those eternal Land-Revenues settled by fore-Ordination, upon those whom he had recovered and raised from the Death of Sin. Whereupon a Cry does go forth from an ascended Soul, as the Widow Woman, whose Son Elisha raised to Life; who in a time of Dearth and Famine, sojourníd in a strange Land; which when again returned, cryed to the King to have her House and Land restored again, shewing her Son and Heir whom the Prophet had from Death brought to Life. Thus it is with a Soul that hath been banished from its ancient heavenly Inheritance; for which Christ the now glorified Mediator sueth, that there may be a return of all spiritual Revenues and good things; at which the mighty God and King appoints his Angelical Officers to search the everlasting Records, and to bring forth the ancient Deeds, which to the Resurrection and Ascension-state do belong; every Name therein to be found, which are predestinated unto Glorification. For Christ the Lord hath a most lawful Plea, and doth now make claim for the Tree of Life also, to stand all free to be fed upon, without any prohibition; for as Adam sucked in Death by that other Tree, so here is confirmation in eternal Life; and as Adamís Angelical and Paradisiacal Body was changed into that which was mortal and vile; so by virtue of feeding upon this Tree of Life, we shall again reassume a pure and unfadable Body, far more transparent than he had in that first Creation-state; which may be made out clear in the various Properties of this Tree of Life, which we shall draw up the number of.
The first Property, It gives a single, clear and christaline sight, to behold Celestial Glories, without any medium.
Secondly, It gives a supernatural hearing, it comes to understand the Heavenly Language, as from Eternal Nature spoken; which Language is in corrupted Nature now quite lost, and can only be restored in the Ascension.
The third Property is, the most profound and deep Wisdom, which doth most highly excel and outvie all the craft and subtilty sucked in from the Breast of fallen Eve, whose Children have herein been nourished up in a shifting way of worldly Wisdom, which shewed it self in Adam and Eve, when the Lord called them to an account for their disobedience to his Command. All which subtilty must die and fall away, when Godís Wisdom shall be restored again.
The fourth Property of this Tree of Life, it gives an everlasting and unchangeable Righteousness, as a white Robe that covers from Head to Foot, suffering no more spot of the Earthly Life to fall upon it.
The fifth Property is; an unutterable ravishing Pleasure, and Joy drawn in as the sweetness of the Dew, which lies always upon the Branches of this Tree, the precious savour hereof never departs from the Soul; it is all Paradisiacal Power.
The sixth Property is, a flowing torrent of Love, which knows no bounds; it expatiates it self from lengths to breadths, and from heights to depths; it runs through all degrees first and principally; it runneth it self into its own original Being of Love, where-out it comes all covered with Love, Sweetness, and Amity towards all, to scatter among all Fellowships and Societies, these pure sparkling Powers of Love received from the Deity.
The seventh Property produceth an absolute, free, and eternal Liberty of Will, which stands fixed in God, knowing no restraint or bondage; for what-ever it willeth or decreeth is made good, because it moveth in the Will of the Holy Ghost.
Eighth Property is, the serene Meekness, and tender Mercifulness let forth, as from Godís own nature of Goodness, to Objects, that may require succour and help, whether upon an Interior or Exterior; if in spiritual desertion and temptation, how readily is the Balsam Tincture of this Tree given forth, to heal and cure the wounded in Spirit, that so they may find present Cure.
Ninthly, Here is a donation of durable Riches and Honour, which is so infinitely great and glorious, as it draws a black Cloud of Contempt upon all the Babylonish Treasures, that have been gotten and raised by earthly Science and Craft.
Tenthly, Know in Truth and Verity, here is an eternal springing Bank, that will never be spent out, for it is the Generating Revenue, which the Holy Trinity spends upon, and freely does receive the ascended into Community, to share in this springing Gold-Mine, where there will be no need of digging, nor labour, either of Body or Mind; there will be no occasion to say, What shall we eat or drink, or where-withal shall we be cloathed? The Lily-Time is now here come, that all of this kind will be supplied from Godís flowing Fountain of all precious Store, that will confer such a plenty of dowry Riches and Honours, that cannot be degraded, nor plucked away from the Ascended. Which as a Ship they will sail with out-spread Banners of Conquest and Victory, floating upon the Throne-River of Life, daring all Sea and Land Enemies of this worldy Principle, whose strength is rottenness, and cannot stand before the Ark of Godís moving Power, in which his Kingdom shall be established.
The eleventh Property of this Tree of Life, is known by sending forth sweet-scented Odours and Perfumes, a compounded Spikenard, which is so strong and powerful, that it is all-penetrating: So deep, that it toucheth and doth influence, and is an Antidote against all Putrefaction of Sin, and the evil Consequences thereof; the very out-breathing words, are all perfumed with the Oil of the Holy Ghost, which sends forth a virtual healing-Life, among whom they converse with in a Spiritual Sense.
The twelfth and last Property, which is the consummating Glory of all, is an unceasant flow of immortal Life, which fed is from the Christalline River, proceeding from the Throne of God, which River doth encompass this Tree for fixation, that so no more Death, nor Curse may be known but all swallowed up in Victory, according to the Vision, which the beloved John saw, how that this Tree grew in the midst, and of either side of this River, signifying it to be the Holy Trinity in their distinct Variety, springing up for a feeding Life to the Spirit, Soul and Body, which hath reached to Ascension.
Now then by all that hath been opened and revealed of the wonderful Properties of this Tree of Life, can it do less than inforce most ardent longings and aspirings, to go on forward to all of these Degrees? Oh let not this low Elementary Kingdom, with all its subtile Inchantments, and binding Weights, keep down any that are of the Resurrection. The Ascension-gate, our Emmanuel hath passed through, and doth cause it to stand open for all that have good Will and fervent Love to come up after him. What though as yet there may be but few Precedents that have reached this Ascension mark; the Serpent with his twisting Tail having drawn down many ascending Stars: let not that discourage, but rather fire our Zeal the more, and watchful be to avoid his Subtilty, who is not wanting to lay numerous Stumbling-blocks in our way; but through the Spirit of Faith, there may be a striding over all, taking up courage and holy resolution in this ascending way. For something I do see breaking forth as the Light of a new Day, and by the great Alpha and Omega it is testified, that what by his Spirit hath been revealed, shall not go off as a dead Scene, shewn only in literal description and so folded up again. No, a more lively draught the Holy Ghost will draw upon the Hearts and Spirits of those who are born again; this being now the very Time wherein our expectation groweth big, for bringing forth the Heir to all of these Heavenly Immunities which hath been mentioned; and what the tenor of the new and everlasting Covenant runneth upon, wherein a new Heart, and another Spirit, in which Godís own eternal and pure nature will be restored, so as to abolish the very Root-Essence of Sin, which no verbal Ministration, or doctrinal Precept could reach, nor intellectual Knowledge or Vision that giveth divine Seeing, and speculation of heavenly Objects and Things: All of these have the cessation and termination; but that which is the safer ground-work, far excelling all, is to find our selves rooted and essenced in the birth of the Holy Ghost, which is firm, stable and unchangeable, wherein the Issues of a new-springing Life will go forth in every motion, putting a stop to all profuse and impertinent Imaginations, that from Natureís Root has been put forth. Such a signal Change, we in our selves shall find, when the Lord from Heaven shall descend for to bring up to Ascension, and will for ever maintain his Superiority and Kingly Power over all Principalities in this Worldly Region: putting all things under, which hath exalted themselves above him. This is the unreversible Decree of our great Sion-King, wherein the ransomed shall passively stand, for the ruling Scepter of the Holy lamb of God, to take all kingly Power into his own hand, to manage a pure, righteous, and peaceable Kingdom, of which there shall be no end. This is that great and mighty over-turn, which we are looking and hastening for.
WHAT is this rushing sound which I now
The fiery Chariots whirling through the Air,
For Souls to mount up to the Heavenly Station;
And there for to put on their Glorification.
Mount risen Souls, and not in Eden stay,
Lifeís Tree doth for you all its Fruits display.
Fear not, behold, as Cherubs mount apace,
Ascend on high into your native place.
Loveís Heart stands open; it is there alone,
Youíl see God Face to Face in his bright Throne;
Where you shall Pleasures feel, Life, Joy, and Peace,
For you prepared, that will never cease.
Mount then the Ladder, and to Heaven ascend;
There lies the Treasure, that shall never end:
Whose endless Riches so shall take your Eyes,
All temporal Wealth for it you shall despise.
The Income everlastingly shall flow;
And of this end of Wealth no one shall know.
In this Ascending State, all Spirits are
Free from all Thought, disburtheníd of all care:
For in this glorious, and wealthy Land,
And endless Store, and Bank doth open stand;
Which still does multiply, increase, and grow,
As it does from the God-head Fountain flow.
Upon Ascension and Descension.
EXPECT now that Day of God, which as a fiery Oven and molten Heat, shall come upon the old Heavens and Earth, not only to shake, but dissolve them; such a signal change will be effected through the fiery Baptizing Cloud, in which the Holy Ghost will descend the second time upon the New Jerusalem Waiters, who called and fixed are to mind no other thing but Ascension, to receive Power from the most high, for to do Works of Glorification, which none can be capable of, but such as are separated, and redeemed out of the Earth. The Apostles were commanded of the lord Christ, when he intended to pour forth the Holy Ghost, wholly there to tend; upon which they accordingly received the first Fruits of it. But now where shall we find a holy separated Fraternity, that in pure Concord and Unity of Love, do together wait for the residue of the Spirit, to do the great Works of God in this Earth, which hath lain so long barren from bringing forth any of this kind of fruitful Powers? Therefore it is but all necessary to provoke to such a gathering in Spirit, and ascend together unto the Mount of Olives, as apart from all worldly Impediments, hereupon for to wait till the bright glance of the Ghostly Majesty shall again break forth in Power and great Glory, that we may shew our selves to those of our Brethren, who yet in the Kedar of a worldly State do dwell, to invite them out of this imbondaged Life, where the sorrow and servile droil do attend. Who then shall of these glad Tidings first bring, but such close and fervent Seekers that have set the Morning-Watch, looking for the East-gate to open, which hath been the six working-days of Manís labour shut? all of which is to cease, when the great Prince of the Sanctuary shall rise and ascend in us, to enter into the most holy and inward Court, as that one perpetual Sabbath, where we come to rest from all our own Works; that the Holy Ghost may act, and do all in the most Holy Place in us, as an Offering well pleasing to the Father, who accepteth such Worship only, as performed is by this most excellent Spirit. Therefore how lightly and unavailable are all our Actings and Workings to be set by, till the Power of the Holy Ghost comes to move all pure, strong, and effectual? for nothing will or can hold out or abide, but what is wrought up to the numberless measure of God the Holy Ghost: Therefore this golden Reed is given to be our Measure, from thousands to thousands, till the living Waters from under the threshold of the Sanctuary, do rise as an unpassable River, to drown all that is drossy and earthly, so as nothing may live there, but what is of Godhead-appearance. Now then let us go on to pursue that, for which the lively Hope is begotten in us, not looking back to any veiled or shadowed Ministrations, which could never perfect what we in the everlasting Counsel of the Holy Trinity are designíd unto; for know it for a Truth, from the Yea and the Amen, that the now vile drossy Man shall be made all Gold, through the tincturing virtue of the Deity entering into him: This is the amazing Wonder which is left for the Holy Ghost to bring about. But who are the elected hereunto, as Subjects upon whom this shall first be wrought upon? It may be further queried, There are various for-running Qualifications which have been already mentioned, as in the Death and following Process. This only I shall further add, That those who are chosen in God for to be the first springing Plants of this new Creation, there will be given to them a mighty Spirit of Faith, and a clear and satisfying, Persuasion, that this great, thorough and marvellous Change is to be effected and for this they must be cast as into a new Spiritual Model, fitted out by the Spirit of Wisdom, and so found in a believing and waiting posture; for let none imagine this will fall upon any suddenly, but they will have a foregoing Work for it, and know a great change in the secret of their Soulís inward part; which is all necessary, that through cleansing Work, there should be a getting through, to make ready for this great and last Baptizing, into the pure Nature of the Deity, who then will discharge all our bodily exercise, as to the most Holy Things, wherein fault might be found; because performed from a mixed ground, where Good and Evil in contest was. It shall no more be said, The Spirit and we together do work, for Man must come to the end of his days Work; for the Holy Ghost doth take upon him to do this great Work, which appertains to Glorification, in those that are come thus forward on to cease to their own Works, and doth see the utmost ends of their unprofitable and dead Earth, and can no more act from that mixed Property, being made to know another more excellent Ministry, by uniting now with the seven forms of eternal Nature compacted, and made up for a pure Ghostly Body, where all Ability and God-sufficiency will shew forth it self quite of another sort, than while under internal Purifications, and Soul cleansings, which were always a doing, and never done, nor could ever be expected, till the Holy Ghost comes to fix his own Body, which will go forth in various working Powers, which I should unfold as they have been revealed unto me; but not knowing yet any that can bear or receive such wonder-working Powers, they must lie a while under the Seal of Secrecy, till it be known who are worthy of them, which God will reveal to us in his Time; for the bringing forth a new creating Store, that hath in bank been treasuring up, for those that shall meet me in this high and heavenly Track, who have left this visible and fadable State, for the more sure and weighty precious Things, which the Day of the Holy Ghost must and will bring in; to which Lot, the Wisdom of God hath charged us to stand, and not to let the Golden Stone which is left in trust, as unadvisedly to slip out of our hands; but wait for him to work upon it, who only is mighty, able and skillful to use it, by opening the wonder-working virtue of it. In the mean time we are taught to hold out our six working days till the seventh Year of the Sabbatical Rest is come. Blessed are those which are arrived to the sixth and last day, in a ready preparation and hopeful expectation, that the East-gate will open to give an entrance into that good Land, where we may be as those true Rechabites, no more to Build, or Plant, or Sow into a corruptible Soil, nor any more to drink of the Wine of any adulterated Vine, wrought out by the sweat of the Brow; but come to reap all of those rich, good, and plentiful Things, which are made ready unto our hand, according to that saying of our Lord Christ unto his Disciples, I have sent you to reap that whereon you bestowed no labour, (Joh.4.38) referring here unto the Gifts and Powers of the Holy Ghost, which so fluently were shed abroad and given in that day. So again, much more will be known, when the residue of the Spirit shall be poured forth, a rich prize shall be possessed, even such a living stock for subsistence, as shall be blessed with the multiplying Power of the Holy Ghost. After this way will God for his own Household provide distinguishingly; but for this it is given us to understand, there will be such a kind of Faith given, as shall run up as high, and extend it self as large, as an Almighty and Infinite God can answer unto; for such a Spirit of Faith is all-necessary for the accomplishment of such mighty Things; therefore we may be provoked to pray uncessantly for this Gift.
Thus we have defined some part of the Glory that doth follow upon Ascension, through being fixed in the Body of the Holy Ghost; by whose glance of Light it is given us to see another Degree, how that the Ascended and Glorified, are again to descend, to show and declare to their fellow Saints, what Dowry they are by the Holy Ghost possessed with to serve their Lord and Masterís appointment with here in this visible Principle. This is a secret written in the Book of life, upon which there hath been a fast Seal: But now the Lamb of God is in Spirit come to break it open, that we may read & know the great Royalties, which he hath redeemed us to enjoy. We in the first place are to remind and make observation, that when any great and mighty change was to be wrought and effected upon the Earth, it was to be done still by Angels that decended from Heaven, as mentioned is in the Holy Johnís Revelation, (Rev. 18.1 & 20.1), which is not to be understood or limited unto those Angels, which never knew a Birth in Time, whose descent was ever in Seraphick figures; but more properly to the Angels of the Resurrection, that have passed through the ten days Tribulation, and have overcome through the Blood of the Covenant. These are those whom the mighty God will imploy for the replenishing of a New Creation, and coming down with the ghostly Powers to lay the Foundation for the Mount-Sion Glory; and it could never be expected that this great over-turn, and change upon the confused Babylonish State of things, as now standing, should be effected till Angels of Time had ascended, and again descended, as having obtained personal Conjunction, and Power from Christ their Head-life, to act as his Representatives in this World, shewing a Godhead-dominion beyond and above all worded Testimonies, by Signs, and Deeds of Wonders; all which are reserved till elected Angels do ascend to receive a mighty impowering from the Holy Trinity. This is the finishing Mystery that is waited and looked for, that so the ruinated and apostatised State of Creatures may be restored to their first Principle, where the New Jerusalem will open and descend; then shall the Priestly Kingdom be revealed and its Government be known, and managed by the Saints of the most High, who after Ascension must have some space of Time for their Installment and Fixation in the Powers and Gifts of the Holy Ghost, that they may not transiently come and pass away again, as formerly they did, but be established and founded as upon a Rock immutable. For as the Heavens have received the Lord Christ out of visible sight, so it will these ascended Angels, till they be confirmed for Kingly Dominion: for their visible Figures may be seen by Mortals, while their inward transformed Spirits, Soul and Body are translated out of sight, and are taken into the Heavens. But it may be queried, Whether those that may hereunto attain, shall be secured from the Mortal Death? To this each one must stand to their Election and Lot, as known to God. We cannot say any thing more as from the Lord, but only this; we have received good Assurance, that if Bodily Death should overtake us, while upon this Ascending Ladder, there will be a considerable advantage, that an open access by Christ the Lord is made for such as die in the Faith hereof; who will find a free pass through the mortal Death into that Mount Sion, to be received where the Lord Christ, and the high Order of Holy Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, are before-hand gathered. And therefore slack not your Work, but pursue forward on, for nothing shall be lost, but all runs on upon account according to each oneís measure attained, although it must be granted, that such as shall continue in this visible Body, till the whole Process be accomplished, they will be more eminent Instruments to glorify God in a World that lies under Death and Curse. For here comes in the very Redemption of the visible, weak and impotent Body, which shall not die dishonourably, as the manner of the whole Earth hath been; but be changed, and Mortality swallowed up of Immortality, and so all Rule and Authority put under, as personating the Lord Christ in the Earth; according as it is prophesied, That Judah shall rule with God, and be had in admiration by Dignities, Principalities, and Powers; such Honour will the descended Angels have. I shall omit any further enlargement upon this particular, having reserved it for another part, which is to follow this, wherein greater things will be discoverable for the sakes of those who have a living Portion therein. But as to what is at present communicated, let it be accounted of as weighty and considerable to provoke, and stir up all pure Minds to meet harmoniously upon this Ascending Ladder, where one Saint may call to another in the Attractive Power of Love, to go up together. Oh where, where shall we find such, that so highly raised in the Spirit of their Minds are, and that will agree to run and hold out this heavenly Race with us, till we reach the Descension to bring down Glorification! Is there not a sealed Number here-for? Oh God, bring them into manifestation and knowledge of each other, that as clustered Grapes we may be all filled with the Wine of the Spirit, that ready is to be pressed out for the cheering the weak and faint, that also are Members of this Body of the Lord Jesus, which yet remain in an humbled suffering Life, crushed down under sin.
We should now conclude this present Subject, but there meets me one Objection which I am to give answer to, which is this: You have here discoursed of a high and wonderful State of Ascension and Descension for visible Glorification, How come you to understand the way of it, without you were actually ascended, by a Cloud of Glory, coming down to receive you out of all mortal sight, after the manner of our Lord Christ? We answer to this, You are given to know, there is an Ascension in Spirit, which beats the Track for the Soul with its Resurrection Body to follow after: For who knows the way of Spirit, it flies as a Bird in the Air, no Mortal can discern; it is of that sublime quality, as it can easily pass into the Principle of Light and Glory, for a prospect and view of that Celestial Orb, which is to descend into Time for the manifestation of what is to be Eternal; and thus it is given to some to be taken up in Spirit, for to make discovery of what lies concealed in Superior Regions, as not yet understood: so as from hence we may give satisfaction to this Query, how truly and safely we may declare, and open these mysterious Deeps concerning Glorification, although the Holy Ghostís Descension is not yet, He having not Ascended in personality, but only in Spirit, but not in Soul, and with a risen Spiritual Body. For there we must keep a distinction, and not pretend to any thing beyond what is attained; for I may have a Revelation of what is designed and purposed, shall be accomplished by the Power of the Holy Ghost, as ground for Faith to work upon: but while this is not done, so as Spirit, Soul, and Body are made one entire Angel for Ascension and Descension, till then it is to be appropriated only to the swift flight of the Spirit, that is as a Heavenly Spy sent before-hand to be a Speculator, to behold the Pattern of those Heavenly Things, which are to be replanted, in like manner and order here in this World, by and through the creating Word descending from on high, into the low, meek, and pure in heart, with whom the high and lofty One will tabernacle withal for generating with New Heavens and Earth, which is the effect and consummation of all Spiritual Sight, Vision, and Revelation, as the purer production of the Holy Ghost in fruitful Powers exerting forth. This is the substantial Thing, which in greatest valuation is with us to be, as for to be pressing on in the Lordís Spirit, to attain and possess what each step of this Ascending Ladder will bring up unto. For far be it from any, who have known translation in Spirit, to see and hear what is in the Heavenly Sphere, to abide and stay here, without waiting for such a Body as may be exercised in the Holy Ghostly Might, or else will never turn to that advantageous Account, which is to be greatly desired upon our mighty God and Saviourís renown, that he alone may be exalted and glorified in his Saints, filling up the full measure of it in his elected Dove-Flock, who by me hath sent, for to declare unto them, that he stands all ready to receive, and in Glory to install each one of our ascending Angels, and to descend with us for the establishing an everlasting Kingdom, where Joy, Triumph, and Glory shall be the new Song, which the redeemed from among Men shall to their mighty God and Saviour sing. Thus I am now returned in Spirit as a Heavenly Spy, to make report of those substantial, high, and worthy precious things, which I have seen and found in the Love-deep, and unmeasurable spaces of Eternity, which hath all-fired my Soul to be cloathed with that Body which may effect all, which the Spirit hath been made to see and understand; for which good assurance is given to all that shall unite, travel, and journey on together with me in the Love-harmony and Spirit of Faith, shall and may see that Key suddenly to come down, that will open the Ascension-Gate, where we may pass in one by one as meetly herefor prepared. Now who, O God, to this Holy Resolve will come, that may gird up, and as mighty strong Elijahís out-run all the Ahab Chariots, that entereth into Jezreel? (1Kings 18.46) Even so let thy mighty Hand, O Lord God, be upon thy Ascending Angels, which are thy Chariots, which all swift do move, as driven on by the Whirl-wind of thy Spirit; for which let our Eye be fixed steady evermore unto. Amen.
O Ye Spirits of the Angelick Race,
That must descend, why stay you in that place?
Descend, and with your presence cheer the Earth,
It languishes, and waits for this new Birth,
That by your heavenly Powers its Sons may be
Releasíd from Bondage, Thrall, and Misery.
O mighty Prince, and Saviour ! in the end
Thou wilt with flaming ministering Spirits descend;
Who in this World shall Kings, and Monarchís be,
And represent thy Power and Soveraignty?
Thy Kingdom then descended theyíl proclaim,
Whilst they as Kings, and Priests, rule in thy Name.
O bow, O bow ye Heavens, and come down! Prince of Peace
descend in thy bright Throne!
Wonders and Signs shall through the Earth be hurlíd,
From the four Quarters of this outward World.
All earthly Craft shall then be brought to nought;
And Wisdomís hidden Stone to light be brought.
Those Glorious Saints, whom Christ then represents,
Shall all be clad in Glorious Ornaments:
In brightness and in glory shall shine free,
Where nothing is of Earthís obscurity,
Thí Elected Seed shall all be then brought in,
Christ then shall reign, and put an end to Sin.
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