Mr Lane <left margin Sir>
I received by Mr Ellis conveyance <Mr Ellis inclosed to me>, should haue been answered sooner, if he when he sent it to mee had not told me <written> that he was to come to towne & that he would be gladde <at his returne> to bring my answer <back> to you; which <therefore I send> now by him I send to let you <that you may> know that I am very desirous to giue you that satisfaction which as <is due> to a Christian & <a> Brother <unsatisfied> I owe you, & that wherin you think your self unsatisfied at my Epistolicall discourse prefixed to the Clauis Apocalyptica & if I should <could> see any iust cause of a Retraction of any thing <I haue> said there; I hope I should not scruple to expresse it; but truly as yet, I am not made to see this by anything which you haue alledged hitherto you will therefore giue me <leaue> to declare the Truth as it is in my heart unto you which I beseech the Lord so to addresse that wee may <both> reap therby the comfort of mutuall edification.
The first thing whereat you are offended; is that Mr Braine & such as
hee seduceth or are seduced with him, make their boast that I agree with them in their opinion concerning the nullitie of a visible Church in these times. you say that I foment them in their errors, & haue giuen them cause to insult & bee [ more?] bold in their opposition to you that are contrarie minded. To this let me tell you that in bearing witnes unto the truth so farre as I am inlightened; I looke upon it <the truth> as it is naked in it self, I offer it to all without partiality; I respect not any <no> mans opinion, nor any party, to byas my thoughts to some their <are not byased for any> interests; I corrupt not willingly nor do I deal deceitfully with the word, but I speake my sense therof <of divine matters> as in the sight of God. now if it fall out that any should contrary to my sense wrest, misconstrue or misapply my words to colour <uphold> the errors which I disallow <left margin: & they assert> that is not to bee imputed to me as a fault of mine if that which I assert bee a truth in it self. it is no new thing in men of perverse minds & seducers <& unstable minds> to wrest the truths of God unto their owne destruction as Peter <as the Apostle> saith 2 Peter 3. 16. Christs <were not Christ's> owne words were misconstrued & misapplyed against his true sense? & brought an accusation against him when he spoke of the destroying of the <his> temple in three dayes. [left margin: Rom. 3. 7.] The Apostle Paul complaines that some did slanderously report of his Doctrine, as if he did teach, that men should do euill that good may come <of it>. I shall therefore intreat you to consider that a truth is neuer a whit the lesse receiuable because euill men abuse <it> & peruert <or wrest> the consequences therof <from thence> against the meaning of those that beare witnes therunto. <we see> that in these dayes the soundest & most precious Truths of God are <thus> peruerted taken made the grounds of most abominable errors by the subtilty of Satan. [left margin: 2 Peter 1. 4.] as for this, that wee are made pertakers of the Divine nature Satans instruments [ now a dayes?] maintaine, that the soule of man is of the very essence of God; & that the saints are God; & Consequently that they sinne not. &c. & because it is said that God seeth no sinne in Iacob & that the elect are beloued before the foundation of the world they inferre that the elect please God aswell when they sinn & as when they obey his will. & <twentie> such like instances might bee giuen if need were <left margin: concerning the Doctrine of our Iustification; of Predestination, of free grace; of Christian liberty, & of <of outward> ordinances & of the law>. shall therefore the truth of God bee suppressed because men abuse it to confirme their lyes? by no meanes: but but [catchword: their]
their lyes <should be rather so>
be so much the more condemned by the <further> manifestation of the truth. I haue said, & do <still> say that the visible state of the Churches <left margin: calling upon the name of Christ is within themselues> is in a wildernes of Spirituall Confusion I have said & do say: because it is clearly manifest & that they are not yet all come to the vnity of the Faith & of the knowledge of the son of God <left margin: within themselues because their members> if they are not free from being <& this I say because it is apparent that their outward estate is unsetled, changed,> & tossed to & fro & & caried about with [word deleted] of Doctrine by the Cunning craftines of men who lye in wait to deceiue <by the power & in subordination to the policie of those who manage the affaires of this world>; & because in their relation to each other they <the churches> are not an <one> entire Body ioyned & growing up visibly in Christ & <nor the saints> ioyned together & compacted by that which euery euent supplyeth to the edification of themselues in loue. <left margin: this unsetled wild condition I call their spirituall wildernes, yet> but that I hope they shall in due time come out of this wildernes, & grow up to a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fulnes of Christ. this I do testifie & haue all along testified for these many yeares to be a truth. now because some peruert this Truth & draw from thence this <a> Conclusion <left margin: which neuer came into my Minde viz:> that therefore there is no true Church exstant <& visible> upon earth, you say that I foment their error & am of the same <agree with them in their> opinion: & because I say that the time is not yet fulfilled of the Gentiles <at an ende>, wherein they are <the Gentiles are permitted> to tread the outward Court under foot: you your self inferre this Conclusion: let us then all (say you) pass ouer to the Tenets of those separatists whom we haue hitherto blamed & take unto our selues the shame as is meet for ioyning with them no sooner. which to my sense is a most absurd consequence. for although I assert that the outward state of the Church is not now <yet> what it shall bee; shall I therefore bee forced to grant that there is no <true> Church at all in being <left margin: or that the truth of no Church is visible?> & that wee ought to separate our selues from all the outward ordinances to Continue & increase the Confusion wherin wee are? I could neuer haue imagined that Mr Lane would haue argued thus preposterously. what can there bee no true Church in the wildernes? was not Israel the people of God before they came into Canaan or before the temple of Solomon was built? was there not a flitting tabernacle before there was a temple? nay & before there was any tabernacle at all was there not a true Congregation of Gods people in Egipt itself? <&> so farre visible as that they were not mixed with the Egiptions but distinguished from them in their habitations; & differ <by their customes & by> a grievous oppression of the Egiptian Tyrannie & yet although then their visible state was trode under foot Moses did not argue as Mr Lane now doth; that therefore he must <ought to> separate from them <but> he Chose rather to separate from the Egiptians, for he refused saith the Apostle to be called the son of Pharaohs daughter Chusing rather to suffer affliction <left margin: Hebr. 11. 24, 25.> with the people of God. Moses could see that the Israelites although they had no outward visible estate of the world, but were under Pharaoh, yet were the true people of God, & that for want of such a state they ought not to bee separated from (as Mr Lane concludes <left margin: no lesse preposterously then> with Mr Braine) but rather ioyned unto. you see then that from the premises which I assent your inference doth not follow, but that both you & Mr Braine though intending to oppose each other yet you both agree in
agree in the same fallacie to misapply the truth of my assertion to a wrongfull conclusion: at least to such a one as is quite contrary to my sense: for I cleerly professe
tha t notwithstanding the desolation & confusion wherin the outward state of the professors of Christianity doth stand; that there is still a true Church amongst them, wherunto & true ordinances; wherunto wee are bound to ioyne, & not to stand as separate from them.
Thus your first matter of unsatisfaction I hope is cleered; & that you are <made> able to see a mistake in
your inference these consequences viz: which both you & Mr Braine draw from my premises. But then in the second place you declare yourselfe unsatisfied in the case come to argue with me, because I say that I expect the bride from heauen; & that it is apparent we haue not yet any permanent Citie on earth such as the Apostle hath described the lambes wife <to bee> Reuel. Ch. 21 & 22. & that I will not allow any societies of Churches or single Congregations to haue receiued the favour of being arrayed in fine linnen cleane & white; which is the Righteousnes of saints; tha t is, to bee in a true visible perfect Constitution without blame before the world; but I speake my experience, that I haue found & do find them in their seuerall associations to haue the Laodicean temper: that is a kind of popular humour & vulgar disposition to Iustifie themselues before & ouer others. <& in comparison> of others.
Concerning these assertions of mine you argue with me first in Generall, about the perfection which is <now> to bee acknowledged in the Churches then in particular
about about the incongruitie of some of my expressions wherin I mention the Churches comming down from heaven & out of the wildernes. to satisfie you in these things I pray consider that <as> I do not deny the true being of a Church in the world nor <so I acknowledge> the perfection of the Constitutiue parts therof as it is in via: I acknowledge also that there is another perfection to come hereafter when Christ shall haue giuen up the Kingdom of his Mediatoriall office, & that wee shall effectually pertake of the <Fathers> loue [left margin: Ioh. 17. 26.] wherewith the father hath <he> loued the son; where I say that loue shall bee in us & Christ in us. then wee shall bee in the full height of perfection wherunto we can bee brought & wherin we shall remaine unto all eternitie; but I conceiue that before we come to this state there shall bee seuerall intermediat degrees of growth which in comparison of the state wherin we now are may be called so many perfections; & this you seem fully to grant when you say that you acknowledge a perfection to come before the Church on Earth be taken up into heauen: this perfection you describe to be in the accomplishment of promises & prophecies of Daniel & of the Reuelation at the Downfall of Antichrist & the calling of the Iewes, which you say will adde much to the splendor & beauty of the Church in the last times, so that heerin you confesse that we & our posterity shall be more happy then those that haue been before us. these are your words wherin you seem to close fully with me, nor do I see wherin you disagree from me otherwise then in your mistake of my meaning when you adde [catchword: but as]
but as for the want of[altered from if] any other visible perfection, the want of which should make the Lord Christ pronounce Lo-ammi against the Churches (you say) you know none; & if I do you desire me to impart it unto you. here you suppose that I haue said, that the present reformed & orthodox Churches are to bee counted by Christ Lo-ammi by reason of the want of that perfection which is not yet come but in due time shall come. which is an assertion as unreasonable as if I should say that because my child (who shall be in due time a man in stature strenth & iudgment) is now but
a little a babe of three or foure yeares old; that therefore he is not my Childe; which I neuer meant to say of the present Churches; as you with Mr Braine are pleased to understand me. I therefore to giue you satisfaction heerin shall declare; that when I said that I had not seen any perfection in any of the present Churches I meant it not absolutly of any thing which in any respect may bee called perfection, no not in comparison of those that haue no truth in them at all; but I meant it only secundum subiectam materiam wherof there & then I did speake which was concerning the adorning of the Bride to fit her for the mariage supper of the lamb; I say that I haue not seen any such perfection of fine linnen clean & [whine?] in anie of them as to fitte them for this state & to qualifie them to bee that bride which is expected to bee arraied. in a word I say that I know none of the particular Churches which I can call the Bride which Reuel. 19. v. 7, 8 doth mention, as yet fitted for the supper which there is spoken off. if you know any I desire you to shew her unto me. I say, that I said a Laodicean rightousnes in all parties, the one iustifying themselues in comparison of others; or rather condeming others in comparison of themselues. I find none truly zealous for the Righteous & [ truly?] perfect way of Holy Communion without partiality; to build up others in loue that wee all may come to the vnity of the Faith, & of the knowledge of the son of God: for till we bee brought to this state in our visible outward communion & profession so as to owne one another in that wherin wee agree; & by that owning of each other find a way to remoue scandals & offences & walke together in loue as one body building up each other by the same rule; I say till we come to this perfection; I must confesse I am not able to see anie perfection in anie of the parties which will qualifie it to bee the Bride wherof the prophet doth speake in that place which I alledged: whence you may perceiue that the present Churches although built upon the foundation of the Prophets & Apostles wherof Christ is the corner stone, & by consequent true Churches, & in that sense the true Bride as to their intrinsecall relation to the Bridegroome; yet that they may bee called in some sense Lo-ammi that is not the people which they shall be, when they shall be fitted for the mariage supper. for then they shall bee all one body in perfect Loue & holy Communion, wherof I confesse I see very little appearance at this time & consequently as to their extransecall & visible realtion to the Bridegroome looking upon them in the bulke of the Commen profession we may truly say they are not the Bride which is arrayed in fine Linnen. this being my [catchword: true &]
true & full meaning, you may see that your inference concerning our disanulling of the Nationall Couenant upon this account is wholly void: for this consideration of our present & expectation of our future condition, doth bind us so much the more to aduance our promised Reformation according to the word of God & the example of the best Reformed Churches not only in this but in all ages; for although I can see no absolut perfection in any of the Churches, as to that outward state which the Rules of Holy Communion in the word require, yet it doth not follow that wee may dispense with this part of our promise seing the word of God is to bee made a paterne aboue the best reformed Churches, nor is their reformation to bee admitted to be good further then it agreable to the word.
The last thing wherat you are are unsatisfied is concerning the incongruitie of some of my expressions as you call it; as if the Brides coming downe from heauen & comming out of the wildernes of Confusion were matters altogether inconsistent. take notice therefore that in my notion they are so farre from being inconsistent that they are necessary & immediat consequences one of another: for to some downe from heauen is by the spirituall & heauenly frame
which of life which is in the Kingdome of Christ, & with which we are not yet fully acquainted, to bee drawen forth unto a state of visible conformitie wholly answerable therunto: for when we are said to bee with Christ in heavenly places, & to haue our conversation in heauen; the meaning is not of a locall heauen but of a heauenly that is spirituall condition of life & state endowed with heauenly properties: I meane then that when the Church that is the visible societie of saints shall on her outward profession appeare truly spirituall, & conformable to the life of saints in heauen, so that the will of God is done here on earth as it is in heauen then that she doth come downe from heauen; for now all her perfection being only in her inward & invisible estate; I conceaue shee is not yet come downe from heauen; nor out of the wildernes: for as long as her visible estate is not apparently descending from heauen, she is as to us in a wildernes of Confusion & disorder. by a wildernes I meane a place wherin there is no habitation, or frame of a citie, or orderly constitution of settlement for humane societies: & I conceiue that the outward present face of the profession, as it is apparent now amongst those that call themselues Christians [left margin: Psal. 122. 3.] is not like any citie compacted together; but rather like seuerall flockes of sheep scattered & wandering here & there upon seuerall mountaines, exposed to the danger of all manner of rauenous beasts; now I say that Christ will seeke out his scattered sheep upon these mountaines & find them both of the Iewes & Gentiles which wander up & downe in uncertainties & desolate places, & will make them both one flocke, & in one fold will settle them under his owne ordinances & then they shall bee truly said to come out of the wildernes & also come downe from heauen
Thus I haue endeuoured to cleer those things wherat you haue stumbled in my preface; nor do I know any thing materiall wherat you are further unsatisfied which may not nee cleered by that which hath been said; for as to this last point; if you take this present euill world, & the confusions & disorders which are therin; [letter deleted?] wherin the saints are, in respect of their spirituall life <as> in desolate places; I say if you take this present state of humane affaires in the world to bee a wildernes in comparison to the Citie of God the heauenly Ierusalem which is the mother of us all, then you shall not need to bee filled with horror & amazement to heare [catchword: that]
that our present condition is a wildernes of Confusion & desolation: for if it bee not so; I pray you show me where the citie of God which hath foundations is <visibly> apparent
where amongst any particular societies; & & I shall reioyce with you in her glory. & if you take on the other hand, the spirituall gouvernment of mens soules under Christs conduct & the manifestation of his life & loue in them, [ venting?] <by the vision of> them to himself as his members, & <of> one to another as members of each other in God, to bee the Kingdome of heauen then when the professors of the name of Christ shall bee brought to liue under this gouvernment <of their head> & manifestly to stand in such a relation <of comembership> by the conduct of the spirit of Christ one towards another <in this world> then I say they may bee truly said to bee come downe from heauen upon earth as a citie compacted together: so that their comming thus downe from heauen will bee their going out of the wildernes; because their settlement in & under a spirituall state of gouvernment & <a> frame of life <Brotherly> vnitie will bee their comming out of this worldly state of Anarchie & confusion, which is amongst them by reason of their wan diuisions & want of <Brotherly> vnitie. from all which I could haue you with me to reflect upon this Conclusion that so long as we boast our selues of our present perfection & enioyments; euery one <left margin: exalting himself> in comparison of our <his> neighbour, & do not earnestly endevour & <make haste & iustly> stretch forth our soules towards the perfection which is set before us in the communion of saints; wee are so farre from being the Bride fitted for the Mariage supper; that wee are rather like the foolish virgens who had only their lampes & no prouision of oile in them; for when wee do this are lifted up & become proud for one partie against another < are [ puffed?] up for our selues or> it will bee found that all such as are puffed up for themselues in the Contemplation of their owne state or for one partie against another, will are but Christians rather in name then in deed; & all such as upon such a <this> ground make divisions <seeking rather> to appeare rather by themselues; then to ioyne with others that call upon the name of the Lord out of a pure heart, will bee left to stand by themselues <& to shift for themselues in the day> when Ierusalem shall bee built as Citie compacted together; & when the tribes of Israel shall the Lord shall go [left margin: ps. 122. 3, 4] up thither to the testimony of Israel; I say they shall bee left to stand by themselues <& to shift for themselues> if they change not their Course & follow the principles of Holy Communion wherunto wee are called <by one spirit> into one Body in Christ, who as he hath made our peace with God [ so?] as we are men so he hath united <us all> both Iewes & Gentiles in one Body to himself as wee are spirtuall men. Let us therefore not deceiue our selues <with vaine imaginations> nor esteeme of our selues aboue what wee are, nor bee troubled at the discouerie of our imperfections; but let us hope perfectly for the saluation of Israel reddie to bee reuealed & let us put ourselues in a posture reddie to receiue it; which I conceiue is none other but first to keep the foundations <or beginning> of our confidence <of our standing> & <the> reioycing of our hope firme to the ende. secondly to follow Peace [ Now?] with all men & Holines of truth without which no man shall see God & lastly to prouoke one another daily to loue & to the good workes of Holy Communion <& conformitie to the will of God> wherby the vnitie of the spirit will bee kept & aduanced in the bond of Peace & mutuall edification & aduanced to perfection in the duties of mutuall edification.
Let this bee our worke & wee need not doubt but that wee shall see [catchword: Ierusalem]
Ierusalem a quiet habitation & a tabernacle that shall not bee taken downe; a state wherof none of the stakes & constitutions [left margin: Isa. 33. 20.] shall euer bee remoued; nor shall any of the lords therof (the obligations & relations under which wee shall stand) euer be broken. Now when & where & how &
by <to> whom this shall come to passe first or last, wee need not to bee sollicitous, wee may bee sure that if wee bee wise virgins we & haue our lampes burning wee shall meet with the Bridegroome & bee admitted with him into the wedding Chamber; where I hope yow & I shall meet with many more who are now at a distance as to outward administrations from us. Let us pray for the hastening of that day, & expect it daily praying for each other, which is the heartie purpose of
your Louing freind & Seruant
Iuly. 7th in Christ
1651. Iohn Dury.
For his Reuerend & Louing Brother in
Christ Mr. Edward Lane.
these bee presented
Copie to Mr Lane Iuly 7th
[another hand:] Durie