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And did not the Lord bring his judgments upon the Jews for such actions? and do you think he will clear you of such actions, because ye make a profession of christianity, and the gospel? Nay, nay, be not deceived: God's wrath and righteous judgments will be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men? and therefore amend and repent, lest these judgments come upon you at unawares: when you and your priests are crying, 'peace, peace,' sudden destruction comes upon you, as it did upon Sodom, and the old world.
And you that be found out of the power of Godliness, as the Jews were found out of the law of God; do you think that the stone will not cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer to it, against you that delight in sin and wickedness?
This vision is plain, saith the Lord; he that runs may read it; and the vision is for an appointed time, but at the last it shall speak.' Hab.2. Therefore while ye have time repent, and give over pleading for your sin and body of death and wickedness to the grave; for there is no repentance there; and as the tree falls, so it lies; therefore cease to sin and break off your iniquities by repentance. For the grave cannot confess to the Lord, nor death cannot praise him and they that go down into the pit cannot hope for the truth; but the living, the living shall confess thee, as I do this day; the father to the children shall declare the truth,' thus saith Hezekiah, Isa. xxxviii. 18, 19.
And you may see these evil works and workers before-mentioned, to wit, drunkenness, uncleanness, &c. are the works of such as go into hell; for the scripture saith, all that forget God, and do wickedly, shall be turned into hell, as aforesaid; and so into that which burns with fire and brimstone; and therefore saith the prophet, hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure; and their glory and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth among them shall descend into it. Isa. v. 14. Therefore consider this, all ye drunkards and unclean persons, that feed yourselves without fear, and destroy and devour the creatures of God upon your lusts, lest hell swallow you up, which has opened its mouth without measure; be sure it will, except you speedily repent and amend your lives and doings, and turn unto the Lord. Though you may call drunkenness and uncleanness, good-fellowship, and call others fools that will not follow you into the same excess of riot, yet it is the bad-fellowship; for the good-fellowship is in the good spirit of God, which mortifies these evils, and the works of the flesh, which are manifest; as, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, wantonness, envy, murder, drunkenness, gluttony, &c. whereof I tell you (says the apostle) that they that do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.' Gal. 5. Worcester Prison, this 1st of the 11th month, 1674.
FOR ALL THE BISHOPS AND PRIESTS IN CHRISTENDOM,
To measure themselves by the scriptures of truth, and see if they be not re-
And to all that call themselves papists, bishops, ministers and teachers of the
Read and try with patience, and be not offended at truth.
He that hath the form of Godliness, and denies the power thereof, from such turn away. 2 Tim. iii. 5.
Woe be unto thee that spoilest, and thou wast not spoiled, and dost wickedly, and they did not wickedly against thee, when thou shalt cease to spoil, then thou shalt be spoiled, &c. Isa. xxxiii. 1.
Woe unto the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me, and cover with a covering, but not with my spirit, that they may add sin unto sin. Isa. xxx. 1.
Let his habitation be void, and let no man dwell therein, and let another take his office. Acts i. 20.
If you do own God, and Christ, the prophets and apostles, that God chose and sent to speak, and which Christ chose and sent to preach, and what they sent them to declare against, are those things to be held up? and such teachers, which they marked out by their fruits, that we should know them by? are they not to be cried against in these our ages, as they did in their ages?
Such as were the sons of Eli, and Eli not restraining their sons, but honoured his sons above God; therefore the Lord said, 1 Sam. ii. 29, &c. 'He would cut off his arm, and the arm of his father's house; and this should be the sign unto him, that he would cut off his sons in one day.' So Eli the priest lost his two sons, lost his life, lost the ark of God, and lost the priesthood; and therefore saith the Lord I will stir up a faithful priest that shall do according to my heart and mind, (to wit, Samuel,) and all that is left in Eli's house shall come and bow down to him for a piece of silver, and a morsel of bread,' &c.
Here was the judgments of God upon the unruly and unfaithful priests, as in the first of Sam. ii.
And when Samuel was old, he made his sons judges over Israel, and his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took rewards, and perverted judgment, which grieved the good people, and Samuel, which brought judgments afterwards upon them, as in 1 Sam.
i. and viii. And Samuel said unto all Israel, in 1 Sam. xii. 3, Behold, here I am, bear record of me before the Lord; whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I done wrong unto? or whom have I hurt? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith, and I will restore it to you again?' then they said, 'Thou hast done us no wrong, nor hurt us, neither hast thou taken aught of any man's hands,' &c. Samuel said unto them, The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have found naught in my hands,' and they answered, He is witness.'
Now, can you priests of Christendom say, as Samuel said here in truth in his old age, and the people say so of you, as they said here of Samuel, and cleared Samuel, saying, 'Let the Lord be witness,' come try yourselves by this scripture; and by the prophets' example.'
'And Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, went after Naaman for a reward, and when he came to him, he asked him whether all was well, and he said to him, all was well, then said Gehazi, my master Elisha hath sent me, saying, behold there be come to me even now from Ephraim, two young men of the children of the prophets, give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of raiment; and Naaman gave him two talents of silver, and two changes of raiment; and so Gehazi, laid them in his house, and came and stood before Elisha, and Elisha said unto him, whence comest thou? and he said, thy servant went no whither, and he said unto him, went not my heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is this a time to take money, and to receive garments, and olives, and vineyards, and sheep and oxen, and men-servants, and maid-servants? then said Elisha to his servant Gehazi, the leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever; and he went out from his presence, a leper white as snow,' mark ye priests this, and whether the cause of this leprosy of Gehazi do not stick and remain upon you who are of his spirit and will take by force from them you do nothing for.
Now Elisha had healed this Naaman of his leprosy, and Naaman would have given Elisha a reward, and Elisha affirmed he would not receive it, when Naaman would have constrained him to have received it, but Elisha refused it; and Naaman would have given Elisha's servant something, but Elisha would not suffer him to give his servant any thing, yet greedy covetous Gehazi his servant run after him with a lie in his mouth, and received his rewards, and received thereby the leprosy to himself and his seed for ever.
And therefore take heed of Gehazi's leprosy in running after gifts and rewards, ye papists and priests, and other teachers, and mind also the nobleness of the spirit which was in Elisha, who refused all Naaman's gifts and rewards, and would not suffer his servant to take any neither,
2 Kings v. and in 2 Kings vi. Such was the envy of some, that would have taken off Elisha's head, but the Lord prevented them, as in 2 Kings vii. and the unbelieving prince was trodden to death, according as Elisha prophesied to him.
And as Elisha went through Bethel, the children mocked him, and two bears came out of the forest and tore in pieces two and forty of their children; therefore take heed, all ye mockers and people, how ye suffer your children and yourselves to mock the prophets of God, who do what they do freely. 2 Kings. ii. 24. And in Isa. lvi. the Lord God sent him to cry against the watchmen, and the shepherds, and were not these such as pretended to watch for people's souls, and to feed them, think ye?
The Lord saith, which gathereth the scattered of Israel, yet will I gather to them, those that are to be gathered to them,' all ye beasts of the field come to devour, yea all the beasts of the forest, [mark,] their watchmen are all blind, [mark,] all blind, strange watchmen to be all blind, they have no knowledge, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark, they lie and sleep, and delight in sleeping, and these greedy dogs can never have enough, and these shepherds cannot understand; for they all look for their own way, every one for his gain from his quarter, and say, 'come, I will bring wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink, and to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant,' &c.
Now, are such watchmen and such shepherds as these to be held up, or to be justified in our days, which the prophet cried against, he says, 'they are all blind,' and calls them all greedy dumb dogs, who look for their own advantage, and seek their gain from their quarter,' and may not such be so called as do so now, as you may see in Isa. lvi.
And Isaiah saith, Isa. lv. 1, 2. Ho, every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters, and ye that have no silver buy and eat, come, I say, buy wine and milk without silver and without price, wherefore do you lay out your silver and not for bread, and your labour without being satisfied, hearken diligently unto me, and eat that which is good, let your souls delight in fatness, incline your ears unto me, hear, and your souls shall live so the souls do not live without inclining the ears, and coming unto the Lord, and hearing him.
Now these shepherds and blind watchmen, which were called the greedy dumb dogs that could never have enough, they were of another spirit than Isaiah was of, who may get the form of the true prophets' words, but not in the power and spirit that they were in, as many are
And in Jer. v. and in the latter part of the chapter, 'shall I not visit for these things,' saith the Lord, 'shall not my soul be avenged of such a nation as this? a horrible and filthy thing is committed in the land, the
prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests preach for hire, or bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so, what will ye do in the end thereof?'
And now people consider, is not this a filthy horrible thing committed in the land now, which Jeremiah the prophet cried against then? and Jeremiah wept over such, and said, 'oh! that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, &c. for they bend their tongues like bows for lies, but they have no courage for truth.' Jer. ix.
And again, in Jer. x. 21. For the pastors are become beasts, and have not sought the Lord, therefore have they no understanding, and all the flocks of their pastures are scattered:' measure yourselves therefore, ye pastors of this age with those pastors, and try and see if you be out of their steps.
And in Jer. xiii. There you may see how the priests, and the false prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the land, how that they were filled with drunkenness, &c. and how the Lord 'dashed them one against another;' and further see the false prophets in Jer. xiv. 'thus saith the Lord, the prophets' prophecy lies in my name, for I have not sent them, neither did I command them, neither did I speak to them, but they prophesy unto you a false vision, and divination, and vanity, and the deceitfulness of their own hearts, therefore, thus saith the Lord, concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I have not sent them; yet they say sword and famine shall not be in the land, by sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed, and the people to whom these prophets do prophesy shall be cast out into the streets of Jerusalem, because of the famine and the sword, and there shall be none to bury them, both they and their wives, and sons, and their daughters, I will pour out their wickedness upon them;' so see what judgments came upon these flattering false prophets, and the people that set them up, and do you think, that they which hold up such in our days, can they and them escape the hand of the Lord? does not many now prophesy and preach in the name of the Lord, that the Lord hath never sent, nor commanded, nor spoken to them? nay, do not they say in plain words there is no hearing of his voice now a-days, how should he send them then, what can they preach or prophesy? but a false vision, and a divination, and vanity and deceitfulness of their own hearts, now as then so the true must have a command and hear God's voice; the true prophets and preachers that he sends, which deny such as Jeremiah did then.
When Pashur the son of Immer the priest, heard Jeremiah prophesy these things, he smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, on the morrow Pashur brought Jeremiah out of the stocks, then said Jeremiah unto him, the Lord hath