An excerpt from


(Paragraphing and minor edits by George Amoss Jr.)

What should be a Christian's rule?
What are the Catholic and Protestant rules?
The Bible is not the Word of God.

What is a Christian's rule, whereby he is to steer and order his course?

A Christian is to be a follower of Christ, and consequently must have the same rule to walk by as Christ had. A Christian proceeds from Christ, hath the same life in him, and needs the same rule. Christ had the fulness of life, and of his fulness we all receive a measure of the same life. "We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones" (Ephes. 5:30). Yea, we came out of the same spring of life from whence he came: "For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb. 2:11).

Now what was his rule? Was it not the fulness of life which he received? And what is [the Christians'] rule? Is it not the measure of life which they receive? Was not Christ's rule the law of the spirit; the law which the spirit wrote in his heart? And is not their rule the law of the spirit; the law which the spirit writes in their hearts?

How was Christ made a king and a priest? Was it by the law of a carnal commandment? or by the power of an endless life? And how are [Christians] made kings and priests to God? (Rev. 1:6). Is it by the law of a carnal commandment? or is it by the power of the same endless life? "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God," saith Christ, "when he cometh into the world" (Heb. 10:7,5). But by what rule? By what law? "Thy law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:8).

And the same spirit who wrote it there, is also to write the new covenant, with all the laws of it, in the heart of every Christian, from the least to the greatest (Heb. 8:9-10). Yea, the same spirit that dwelt in Christ's heart, is to dwell in their hearts, according to the promise of the covenant (Ezek. 36:27). This was Paul's rule, after which he walked: "The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1-2). This made him "free from the law of sin and death." Where is the law of sin written? Where is the law of death written? Is it not written in the heart? And must not the law of righteousness and life be written there also, if it be able to deal with sin and death?

The spirit forms the heart anew, forms Christ in the heart, begets a new creature there, which cannot sin. ("He that is born of God sins not" [1 John 5:18]). And this is the rule of righteousness: the new creature, or the spirit of life in the new creature. Gal. 6:15-16: "In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them."

Mark: there is the rule; the new creature, which is begotten in every one that is born of God. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature"; and this new creature is to be his rule. And as any man walks according to this rule, according to the new creature, according to the law of light and life that the spirit continually breathes into the new creature, he hath peace; but as he transgresses that, and walks not after the spirit, but after the flesh, he walks out of the light, out of the life, out of the peace, into the sea, into the death, into the trouble, into the condemnation.

Here then is the law of the converted man, the new creature; and the law of the new creature is the spirit of life which begat him, which lives, and breathes, and gives forth his law continually in him. Here is a Christian; here is his rule: he that hath not the new creature formed in him, is no Christian; and he that hath the new creature, hath the rule in himself.

"Ye have an unction [i.e., anointing] from the Holy One, and ye know all things" (1 John 2:20). How came they to know all things? Doth not John say, it was by the "unction"? The anointing was in them, a fountain or well-spring of light and life, issuing forth continually such rivers and streams of life within, as they needed no other teacher in the truth and way of life (same, verse 27). The "Comforter" did refresh their hearts sufficiently, and led them into all truth.

Search the apostles' epistles, and ye shall find them testifying of the Lord's sending his spirit into the hearts of Christians; and exhortations to them not to grieve or quench the spirit, but to follow as they were led. They were to "live in the spirit," and to "walk in the spirit (Gal. 5:25). And the spirit was to walk, and live, and bring forth his own life and power in them (2 Cor. 6:16). And what can be the proper and full rule of God's sons and daughters, but the light of the spirit of life, which they receive from their Father?

Thus God did advance the state of a believer above the state of the Jews under the law: for they had the law, though written with the finger of God, yet but in tables of stone; but these have the law, written by the finger of God in the table of their hearts. Theirs was a law without, at a distance from them, and the priest's lips were to preserve the knowledge of it, and to instruct them in it; but here is a law within, nigh at hand, the immediate light of the spirit of life shining so immediately in the heart, that they need no man to teach them; but have the spirit of prophecy in themselves, and quick, living teachings from him continually, and are made such kings and priests to God, as the state of the law did but represent.

The gospel is the substance of all the shadows contained in the law. A Christian is he that comes into this substance, and lives in this substance, and in whom this substance lives; and his rule is the substance itself, in which he lives, and which lives in him. Christ is the substance, who lives in the Christian, and he in Christ: Christ lives in him by his spirit, and he in Christ by the same spirit: there he lives, and hath fellowship with the Father and the Son, in the light wherein they live, and not by any outward rule (1 John 1:6-7).

But what is the rule now in the apostasy?

Among the Papists, the rule is the Scripture, interpreted by the church (as they call themselves), with a mixture of their own precepts and traditions.

Amongst the Protestants, the rule is the Scriptures, according as they can understand them by their own study, or according as they can receive the understanding of them from such men as they account orthodox. And hence arise continual differences and heats and sects; one following this interpretation, another that.

And this is a grievous apostasy, and the root, spring, and foundation of all the rest; for he that misseth in his beginning, he that begins his religion without the true rule, how can he proceed aright in any thing afterwards?

But are not the Scriptures the word of God? -- And is not the word of God to be a Christian's rule? If every one should be left to his own spirit, what confusion and uncertainty would this produce!

The Scriptures are not that living Word, which is appointed by God to be
the rule of a Christian; but they contain words spoken by the spirit of God, testifying of that Word, and pointing to that Word which is to be the rule. "Search the Scriptures, for in them you think to have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me; and ye will not come to me that ye may have life" (John 5:39-40). The Scriptures are to be searched for the testimony which they give of Christ; and when that testimony is received, Christ is to be come to, and life received from him.

But the Pharisees formerly, and Christians since (I mean Christians in name) search the Scriptures, but do not come to Christ for the life; [they] stick in the letter of the Scriptures, and oppose the life with the letter, keeping themselves from the life by their wisdom and knowledge in the letter. Thus they put the Scriptures into the place of Christ, and so honor neither Christ nor the Scriptures.

It had been no honor to John to have been taken for the Light; his honor was to point to it: nor is it any honor to the Scriptures to be called the Word of God; but their honor is to discover and testify of the Word. Now hear what the Scriptures call the Word; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). "And the Word was made flesh" (same, verse 14). This ["The Word"] was the name of Christ, when he came into the world in the flesh, to sow his life in the world. And when he comes again into the world, out of a far country, to fight with the beast and false prophet, and to cleanse the earth of the whore's fornication and idols, wherewith she had corrupted it, he shall have the same name again; "his name is called the Word of God" (Rev. 19:13). So Peter calleth that the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever (1 Pet. 1:23). And this Word that liveth and abideth for ever, was the Word that they preached (same, verse 25). And they that believed did not cry up the words that the apostles spake for the Word; but received the thing they spake of, "the ingrafted Word;" which being received with a meek, quiet, and submissive spirit, "is able to save the soul" (Jam. 1:21).

This is "the Word of faith" that is "nigh, in the heart and in the mouth" (Rom. 10:8). This is the Word that stands at the door of the heart, and speaks to be let in ("Behold, I stand at the door and knock"): and when it is let in, it speaks in the heart what is to be heard and done. It is nigh; it is in the heart, and in the mouth; to what end? "That thou mightest hear it, and do it."

The living Word, which is "quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword," divides in the mouth, and divides in the heart, the vile from the precious; yea, it reacheth to the very inmost of the heart, and cuts between the roots (Heb. 4:12) -- and this thou art to hear and do. Thou art to part with all vile words, the vile conversation, the vile course and worship of the world outwardly, and the vile thoughts and course of sin inwardly, as fast as the Word discovers them to thee, and to exercise thyself in that which is folly and madness to the eye of the world, and a grievous cross to thine own worldly nature; yea, when the Word reaches to the very nature, life, and spirit within, from whence all that comes, that strong, wise root of the fleshly life in the heart must not be spared, nor that foolish, weak thing (to man's wise eye) which is brought instead thereof, be rejected: which, when it is received, is but like a little seed, even the least of seeds; and when it grows up, it is a long while but like a child; and yet keeping in that childishness, out of the wisdom, it enters into that kingdom which the greatest wisdom of man (in all his zealous ways and forms of religion) falls short, and is shut out of.

This is the word of life; this is the true, living rule, and way to eternal life; and this is the obedience; this is the hearing and doing of the word. "He that hath an ear, let him hear. Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith: prove your ownselves. Know ye not your ownselves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Cor. 13:5).

Are ye in the faith? Then Christ is in you. Is not Christ in you? Then ye are in the reprobate state, out of the faith. Is Christ in you, and shall he not hold the reins, and rule? Shall the living Word be in the heart, and not the rule of the heart? Shall he speak in the heart, and the man or woman in whom he speaks run to the words of scripture formerly spoken, to know whether these be his words or no? Nay, nay, his sheep know his voice better than so. Did the apostle John, who had seen and tasted and handled and preached the word of life, send Christians to his epistles, or any other part of scripture, to be their rule? Nay, he directed them to the anointing as a sufficient teacher (1 John 2:27). "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). He that hath the fountain of life in him, issuing out rivers of living water continually, hath he need to go forth to fetch in water?

"The kingdom of heaven is within you," saith Christ; and he bids "seek the kingdom." Light the candle, sweep thine own house, seek diligently for the kingdom; there it is, if thou canst find it. Now he that hath found the kingdom within, shall he look without, into words spoken concerning the kingdom, to find the laws of the kingdom? Are not the laws of the kingdom to be found within the kingdom? Shall the kingdom be in the heart, and the laws of the kingdom written without in a book? Is not the gospel the ministration of the Spirit? And shall he who hath received the Spirit run back to the letter to be his guide? Shall the living Spirit, that gave forth the Scriptures, be present, and not have pre-eminence above his own words?

What is the proper intent of the letter? Is it not to testify of the Spirit, and to end in the Spirit? The law, the prophets, John, led to Christ in the flesh; and he was to be the increasing light, when they should decrease. Christ's words in the flesh, the apostles' words afterwards, and all words since, are but to lead to Christ in the spirit, to the eternal, living substance; and when words of Christ, of the apostles, or any other words spoken from the same spirit in these days, have brought to the spirit, to the feeling and settling of the soul in the living foundation, and to the building and perfecting of the man of God therein, they have attained their end and glory. But to cry up these, not understanding their voice, but keeping at a distance from the thing that they invite to: the words hereby are put out of their place, out of their proper use and service, and so attain neither their end nor their glory. And though man put that upon them which seems to be a greater glory, namely: to make them his rule and guide; yet, it being not a true glory, it is no glory, but a dishonor both to them and to the Spirit, who gave them to another end.

Now for the other part of the objection, that if men should be left to their own spirits, and should follow the guidance of their own spirits, it would produce confusion and uncertainty: I do acknowledge it; it would do so. -- But here is no leaving of a man to his own spirit spoken of or intended, but the directing and guiding of a man to the Word and Spirit of life; to know and hear the voice of Christ, which gathers and translates man out of his own spirit into his Spirit: and here is no confusion or uncertainty; but order, certainty, and stability.

The light of God's Spirit is a certain and infallible rule, and the eye that sees that is a certain eye; whereas man's understanding of the scriptures is uncertain and fallible; he, having not the true ear, receiveth such a literal, uncertain knowledge of things into his uncertain understanding as deceives his soul. And here man, in the midst of his wisdom and knowledge of the scriptures, is lost in his own erring and uncertain mind, and his soul deceived, for want of a true root and foundation of certainty in himself.

But he that is come to the true Shepherd, and knows his voice, he cannot be deceived. Yea, he can read the scripture safely, and taste the true sweetness of the words that came from the life; but man who is out of the life feeds on the husks, and can receive no more. He hath gathered a dead, dry, literal, husky knowledge out of the scripture, and that he can relish; but should the life of the words and things there spoken of be opened to him, he could not receive them, he himself being out of that wherein they were written, and wherein alone they can be understood. But poor man having lost the life, what should he do? He can do no other but cry up the letter, and make as good shift with it as he can; though his soul the mean while is starved, and lies in famine and death, for want of the bread of life, and a wrong thing is fed.

The Scribes and Pharisees made a great noise about the law and ordinances of Moses, exclaiming against Christ and his disciples as breakers and profaners of them; yet they themselves did not truly honor the law and ordinances of Moses, but their own doctrines, commandments, and traditions. So those now who make a great noise about the Scriptures, and about the institutions of the apostles, do not honor the Scriptures, or the institutions of the apostles; but their own meanings, their own conceivings, their own inventions and imaginations thereupon. They run to the Scriptures with that understanding which is out of the truth, and which never shall be let into the truth; and so being not able to reach and comprehend the truth as it is, they study, they invent, they imagine a meaning; they form a likeness, a similitude of the truth as near as they can, and this must go for the truth; and this they honor and bow before as the will of God; which being not the will of God, but a likeness of their own inventing and forming, they worship not God, they honor not the Scriptures, but they honor and worship the works of their own brain.

And every scripture which man hath thus formed a meaning out of, and hath not read in the true and living light of God's eternal Spirit, he hath made an image by, he hath made an idol of; and the respect and honor he gives this meaning, are not a respect and honor given to God, but to his own image, to his own idol. Oh, how many are your idols, ye Christians of England, as ye think yourselves to be! How many are your idols, ye gathered churches! How full of images and idols are ye, ye spiritual notionists, who have run from one thing to another, with the same mind and spirit wherewith ye began at first! But the founder of images has never been discovered and destroyed in you, and so he is still at work among you all; and great will your sorrow and distress be, when the Lord's quick eye searcheth him out, and revealeth his just wrath against him.

In my heart and soul I honor the Scriptures, and long to read them throughout with the pure eye, and in the pure light of the living Spirit of God: but the Lord preserve me from reading one line of them in my own will, or interpreting any part of them according to my own understanding, but only as I am guided, led, and enlightened by him, in the will and understanding which come from him. And here all scripture, every writing of God's Spirit, which is from the breath of his life, is profitable to build up and perfect the man of God; but the instructions, the reproofs, the observations, the rules, the grounds of hope and comfort, or whatever else which man gathers out of the Scriptures (he himself being out of the life), have not the true profit, nor build up the true thing; but both the gatherings and the gatherer are for destruction.

And the Lord will ease the Scripture of the burden of man's formings and invention from it, and recover its honor again, by the living presence and power of that Spirit that wrote it; and then it shall be no longer abused and wrested by man's earthly and unlearned mind, but, in the hands of the Spirit, come to its true use and service to the seed, and to the world.

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