Of Unprofitable Opinions, And Strife About The Letter
A True Christian, who is born anewof the Spirit of Christ, is in the Simplicity of Christ, andhath no Strife or Contention with any Man about Religion. Hehath Strife enough in himself, with his own Beastialevil Flesh and Blood. He continually thinketh himself a greatSinner, and is afraid of God: But the Love of Christ by degrees pierceththrough, and expelleth that fear, as the Day swalloweth up theNight.
159. But the Sins of the Impenitent Man restin the Sleep of Death, bud forth in the Pit, and produce their Fruitin hell.
160. The Christiandom that is in Babel,striving about the Manner how Men ought to serve God, and glorify Him; alsohow they are to know Him, and what He is in His Essence andWill. And they preach positively, that whosoever is not one and thesame with them in every Particular of Knowledge and Opinion, is noChristian, but a Heretic.
161. Now I would fain see how all theirSects can be brought to agree in that One which might be calleda true Christian Church; when all of them are Scorners, everyParty of them reviling the rest, and proclaiming them to be false.
162. But a Christian is of no Sect:He can dwell in the midst of Sects, and appear in their Services,without being attached or bound to any. He hath but one Knowledge,and that is, Christ in him. He seeketh but one Way, which is the Desirealways to do and teach that which is right; and he putteth all hisknowing and willing into the Life of Christ.
163. He sigheth and wisheth continually thatthe Will of God might be done in him, and that His Kingdommight be manifested in him. He daily and hourly killeth Sin in theFlesh; for the Seed of the Woman,viz., the inward Man inChrist, continually breaketh the Head of the Serpent,that is, the Power of the Devil, which is in Vanity.
164. His Faith is a Desire afterGod and goodness; which he wrappeth up in a sure Hope, trustingto the Words of the Promise, and liveth and dieth therein; thoughas to the true Man, he never dieth.
165. For Christ saith, `Whosoever believethin me, shall never die, but hath pierced through from Death to Life; andRivers of living Water shall flow from him,’ viz., good Doctrine and Works.
166. Therefore I say, that whatsoever fightethand contendeth about the Letter, is all Babel. The Lettersof the Word proceed from, and stand all in, one Root, which is theSpirit of God; as the various Flowers stand all in the Earth and growby one another. They fight not with each other about their Difference ofColour, Smell, and Taste, but suffer the Earth, the Sun, the Rain, the Wind,the Heat and Cold, to do with them as they please; and yet every one of themgroweth in its own peculiar Essence and Property.
167. Even so it is with the Childrenof God; they have various Gifts and Degrees of Knowledge, yetall from one Spirit. They all rejoice at the great Wondersof God, and give Thanks to the most High in His Wisdom. Why then should theycontend about Him in whom they live and have their Being, andof whose Substance they themselves are?
168. It is the greatest Folly that is inBabel, for People to strive about Religion, as the Devilhath made the World to do; so that they contend vehemently aboutOpinions of their own Forging, viz., about the Letter; when theKingdom of God consisteth in no Opinion, but in Power andLove.
169. As Christ said to his Disciples,and left it with them at the last, saying, `Love one another, as I have lovedyou; for thereby Men shall know, that ye are my Disciples.’ If Men wouldas fervently seek after Love and Righteousness as they doafter Opinions, there would be no Strife on Earth, and we shouldbe as Children of One Father, and should need no Law, orOrdinance.
170. For God is not served by any Law, butonly by Obedience. Laws are for the Wicked, who will not embraceLove and Righteousness; they are, and must be, compelled and forcedby Laws.
171. We all have but one only Order, Law,or Ordinance, which is to stand still to the Lord of allBeings, and resign our Wills up to Him, and suffer HisSpirit to play what Music He will. And thus we give to Him again asHis own Fruits, that which He worketh and manifesteth in us.
172. Now if we did not contend about our differentFruits, Gifts, Kinds and Degrees of Knowledge, but did acknowledge them inone another, like Children of the Spirit of God, what could condemnus? For the Kingdom of God consisteth, not in our knowing andsupposing, but in Power.
173. If we did not know half so much, and weremore like Children, and had but a Brotherly Mind and goodWill, towards one another, and lived like Children of one Mother, andas Branches of one Tree, taking our Sap all from one Root,we should be far more Holy than we are.
174. Knowledge serves only to this End,viz., to know that we have lost the Divine Power, inAdam, and are become now inclined to Sin; that we have evilProperties in us, and that doing Evil pleaseth not God; so thatwith our knowledge we might learn to do Right. Now if we havethe Power of God in us, and desire with all our Hearts to act and to livearight, then our Knowledge is but our Sport, or Matterof Pleasure, wherein we rejoice.
175. For true Knowledge is theManifestation of the Spirit of God through the eternalWisdom. He knoweth what He will in His Children; He showeth hisWisdom and Wonders by his Children, as the Earth puttethforth its various Flowers.
176. Now if we dwell one with another, likehumble Children, in the Spirit of Christ, one rejoicing atthe Gift and Knowledge of another, who would judge or condemn us? Who judgethor condemneth the Birds in the Woods, that praise the Lord of allBeings with various Voices, every one in its own Essence? Doth theSpirit of God reprove them for not bringing their Voices into one Harmony?Doth not the Melody of them all proceed from His power, and do they not sportbefore Him.
177. Those Men therefore that striveand wrangle about the Knowledge and Will of God, and despiseone another on that Account, are more foolish than the Birds in theWoods, and the wild Beasts that have no true Understanding. They are moreunprofitable in the sight of the Holy God than the Flowers of theField, which stand still in quiet Submission of the Spirit of God,and suffer Him to manifest the Divine Wisdom and Power through them.Yea, such Men are worse than Thistles and Thorns thatgrow among fair Flowers, for they at least stand still and are quiet,whereas those Wranglers are like the ravenous Beasts and Birdsof Prey, which fright the other Birds from singing and praising God.
178. In short; they are the Issue, Branchesor Sprouts of the Devil in the Anger of God, who, notwithstandingmust by their very tormenting be made to serve the Lord; for by their plaguingand persecuting, they press out the Sap through the Essence in theChildren of God so, that they move and stir themselves in the Spiritof God, with praying and continual sighing, in which Exercise of theirPowers the Spirit of God moveth Himself in them.
179. For thereby the Desire is exerted, andso the Children of God grow green, flourish, and bring forth Fruit;for the Children of God are manifested in Tribulation; as the Scripturesaith, `When thou chastiseth them, they cry fervently to thee.’