Several Epistles to Friends in London written in the year 1655 by Edward Burrough, some of which were subscribed by Francis Howgill who was a fellow laborer with him in the work of the Lord.
Friends of God in the truth, whom the Lord is gathering as desolate stones to build unto himself a habitation, whom the Lord is bringing back out of captivity wherein you have been held under the chains of darkness in the land of the shadow of death, the Lord is calling you and choosing you to place his name in you and to spread forth his glory among you. Therefore all dear Friends whose hearts the Lord hath touched by his love and by his power, be faithful unto God who hath called you. And look not out at any thing that is mortal, to draw you from the obedience of the eternal light of Jesus Christ which shines clearly in darkness.
Resist not the drawing of the Father, but take up the cross and abide in it daily, that your wills may be crucified, in which the ground of enmity lodges. Wait in the fear of the Lord in singleness of heart and in simplicity of mind for the powerful appearance of the Son of God to be revealed in you to destroy the works of the devil, for where he is not witnessed, the works of the devil stand and the nature of the earthly man in the fall.
All of you whose minds are turned within where the pearl and the lost money is to be found, dwell and walk in the pure fear and obedience to that Spirit of God which is made manifest in you and made known unto you, and there will peace flow in from the presence of the Lord unto you and refreshment and strength to the seed, and the pure will live and the corrupt will die daily.
Beware, all that have put their hands to the plow, that you look not back at any thing which you have left behind in the world, but press on in the strait way, which is the light, which gives no liberty to the fleshly man, but which judges and condemns all that hate it and turns from it. The light is the way that leads to life, and by it as you wait in it, the life will be made manifest, which is immortal, and your redemption will be witnessed. Dwell in the judgment and in the burning so that the dross may be consumed and the pure may be refined and the earthly carnal minds may be confounded and judged. The Lord is near unto you; wait for his powerful presence in his own light to see him and in it to comprehend all the world with all its profession which leads not to God but keeps in the separation from God. Your way is near; walking in the light you will see it, and in the light you will see all the paths and all the ways which lead into the chambers of death.
Look not out at words, for that which feeds there is for the famine, but dwell in the light, joining with the immortal principle which receives nourishment from the eternal fountain which the world knows not nor comprehends. As you grow in the pure and in the life, so you are unknown to the world. And your growth will appear by your obedience in the cross of Christ.
Leave off stumbling at the cross, for such have no part in the eternal inheritance. But walk in the cross, which is life to the new man and death to the old, and so through death life is made manifest, and the pure life of God arising in all, the world will be trampled upon and denied by you. But such amongst you that choose the world, wrath from God I declare against you. And you who know the way and cast off the truth and for the love of that which is visible, turn from the truth, you cannot escape the damnation of hell.
So all dear and tender hearts, abide in the counsel of God and let not the world overcome your minds, but wait for a daily victory over it, that so you may with the saints possess the eternal riches, and that in you which is carnal and corrupt may be overcome by that which is eternal and holy, as you abide and walk in the truth and grow up in the knowledge of the eternal God. So our joy will be fulfilled in you, and our rejoicing will be increased by you. Therefore walk and live in that which God hath made manifest in you, which is of himself; and the eternal God of life and power prosper you, and lead you up unto himself, to dwell and walk in his love for evermore.
Be not troubled at the rage of the world nor at temptations, but stand in the will of God which hath been declared amongst you so that you may all be established and guided by that which is not of this world but by the principle of life, which is eternal, which judges all the fruits and grounds of darkness. Our love salutes you all who walk in the truth, and our prayers are for you, that life may spring up in you, to praise the Lord for ever.
We are servants unto you, and unto all the elect seed of God every where, for whose sakes we give ourselves to be spent.
Friends, whose minds are turned to the Lord, by that which is pure, which comes from him who is the light of the world; all mind it, that with it your minds may be turned to Him from whence it comes, out of all the perishing things and out of all the visible to the invisible, that so you may all come to know the word of the Lord which endures for ever, which is as a fire and a hammer which breaks down the mountains and burns up and destroys all that is acted in that nature which leads into transgression and into the curse from God.
Therefore, dear friends, who have tasted of his power, dwell in his fear and keep your minds from gadding abroad from that which hath discovered the lusts and filthiness of your minds and turned your minds from these things and from that nature that rules in the children of disobedience. So you may all come to know the life, and that he may lead you and direct all your minds in his fear and wisdom that so you may be preserved out of those paths that lead to destruction and out of the deceitful profession of the world. In the light of Christ you will see the rise and ground of all deceivers and dreamers, and all them that speak their own imaginations, and yet boast of great things, and strive and contend about words, and feed upon wind, and bring no fruit unto God.
And all ye that are not of the light and walk not according to the light, but are lending your ears to such who act and speak in that nature, you turn from your guide which is near and lend your ears to the wicked, and so walk in darkness. But now you who have tasted of the love and power of God, which the world knows nothing of, in it dwell, and abide in that which hath convinced you, and in that which judgeth you, that so you may witness the fallow ground plowed up, and the earth shaken, and the rocks rent, and the veil taken away, that so there may be a way for the pure to pass through the earth, and so the earth may waste, and wither, and decay, and the lions may suffer hunger, and the gods of the earth may be famished and the lusts destroyed.
All keep low in the fear and wait in silence upon the Lord to be near you to direct your minds and stay and establish you. And as you have received the truth, so walk in the truth, we do charge you all in the name of the Lord. Be faithful to your measure and improve and wait for power, and stand in the cross to the earthly, that whatsoever your minds have delighted in, in the first nature, may be denied and crossed. The cross is to the lust and as you nourish the lust, and let your minds and wills at liberty, and deny the cross, then that which is pure is vexed and darkened, and so the deceit and lust get up again, and the guide is lost and condemnation comes upon you. Therefore all be diligent in the work of the Lord and watch over your actions, and you will come to see Satan hath many strong holds and would spare the best and the fat. But in that which is a cross to all mortal, stand and dwell, that so you may be preserved and kept out of all the snares of the devil.
And now take heed of judging the power of the Lord, and be silent and wait, that you may come to see in the light and be partakers of the same. And all who have tasted of the power, wait, and keep out of imaginations, and thoughts, and false voices, that so the enemy may not be hearkened to, nor the deceit. But all in the measure wait upon the Lord in singleness of heart, out of all deceit. And form nothing in your minds, but all dwell in purity and uprightness.
And all Friends take heed of carelessness, slothfulness, and sluggishness of mind and of giving liberty to the flesh and ease to the carnal mind. We charge and command you in the presence of the Lord, whose power is dreadful, that you meet together in silence and wait, and none to speak a word but what he is moved to speak from the Lord. Take heed of adding to it, but only what you are moved. And take heed of striving and contending, or letting out yourselves to strange spirits, but every one keep in his own tent and sit down under his own vine. Eat not that which dies of itself but feed upon the eternal, and so you will be nourished and grow up in wisdom and power, in that which is pure, that all deceit may be kept out.
And all children and servants, be diligent in your places, more willing, more ready to labor in love and diligence, that so the name of God may not be dishonored. And all you who have callings, throw off nothing hastily or rashly, but wait and flee not the cross, for if you do, you will be darkened and the name of God dishonored. Therefore, all dear Friends who have owned the truth, wait upon the Lord in diligence, that so you may grow in the life, in the power of the Lord, that nothing may be spared that is for destruction. And so God Almighty bless you all and keep you out of all deceit, in the pure life which is made manifest, that you may have victory over all, and witness him who puts all under with it. If you wait, you will see him present and near you.
The everlasting God of power keep you all, for great is our care over you and our love is to you that abide in the truth, of which you are already made partakers. And when joy springs up, keep in it, and run not forth, and spend it not. And take heed of exalting, for then pride and presumption get up, if you keep not in his fear, and so darkness will come upon you. But all dwelling in that which is pure, you will be preserved out of all snares and temptations, and your minds will be kept clear and pure, out of all things that defile. And so the everlasting God of life and power be with you all.
Your dear brethren in the unchangeable love of God.
Edward Burrough, Francis Howgill
Dear and beloved Friends, in that which is pure, of God, and made manifest in you all, wait and abide, and walk in the light which comes from Jesus, who is the Judge of the quick and the dead, and condemns all unrighteousness into the pit. Therefore all wait in that which is pure, which hath turned your minds from darkness to light, and from Satan to God, and hath convinced you of all unrighteousness and hath let you see all that ever you have done. Behold, he is the very Christ. Mind that which is pure of God which shows you the deceits of the heart, the light of the eye which discovers all the secrets of your hearts and will show your present condition, and that which would lead aside. And temptation as it ariseth it will discover, and resisting it in the light, you will escape the pits and the snares which they who err from the light fall into.
Dear Friends, great is our care on every side, and we are jealous over you, lest you depart from the simplicity of the gospel, and so the deceit lead and guide and you come under condemnation. Therefore in silence wait. Be swift to hear, slow to speak; and all wait upon the light in diligence, and take heed of forward minds and wills, which would go before the light and run before the guide.
There is the deceiver and false prophet within, the same that is without, and therefore we charge you all in the name and power of God to take heed of forward wills in speaking, lest your minds be drawn out from the moving of the pure within, to hearken to words without, which are spoken from that which is above the light. This feeds the carnal reason and the earthly wisdom, and lets in the enchanter, and so your minds being turned without, you feed upon the husk, and not the life. That nature that cannot live without words, is for the plague and for the famine, and must be famished and stopped.
As the power ariseth in you, dwell low in it and sink down in the same, and as things open in you, speak not forth, where your minds would run out, but as things open treasure them up in your hearts. All keep in that which separates between light and darkness, and be not hasty to do any thing, lest your wills betray you. And all keep in patience, for there the crown is obtained. Flee not from the trouble, nor from that which judgeth, but dwell in it, and pray that your flight be not in winter. Despise not the cross, even the death of the cross, that all your iniquity may be nailed to the cross, and the righteousness may be set up within and the land kept in peace.
And dear Friends, whose hearts the Lord hath touched, meet together, in silence wait, and you will see the Lord present among you and his power made manifest, and the earth broken up and the fallow ground, and a passage for the seed. We charge you all take heed of many words, or feeding upon that which is torn and dies of itself.
We charge you by the Lord, that none speak without divine motion, for if you do, the false prophet speaks, and his words eat as a canker and darken and veil them that hearken to it. All wait to have salt in yourselves, and savor and discerning, that you may come to know the voice of the Lord from the voice of a stranger, and so you may be kept out of all deceit, for there thorns and briars and the cursed fruits are brought forth. But in the light of Christ dwell and wait, and grow up in it, and walk in it, that you may come to know your Redeemer and what you are redeemed from, and see him near you and in you, else you are reprobates.
The Lord God of life and power preserve you all, for we have kept nothing back, but are free from the blood of you all, and of all that hear us! But our desire to the Lord is that what has been sown in weakness may be raised in power, and that you may grow up in the truth and walk in the truth so that we may see the travail of our souls and be satisfied. And if the Lord give us to see your faces again, we may rejoice in you and with you. The everlasting God of life and power keep you all in his wisdom and power, to have victory over all your enemies, that you may serve him in uprightness of heart and be faithful to that of God made manifest in you all.
Your dear brethren in the gospel of Christ committed to our charge,
To be read at meetings of Friends in London.
Friends of God, called by him out of the dark world into his marvelous light, to all you who by the power of God are kept faithful to walk and abide in the measure of the gift of God received, grace, mercy, and peace from the Father of life be multiplied in you and amongst you, that you all may grow up in the power of God, out of darkness and the shadow of death, wherein you have been held captive in a strange land.
Dear Friends, our souls are poured out for you, that you all may abide in that which you have received and heard, which is the way and path of life and righteousness and peace eternal. Therefore, walk worthy of the calling whereunto ye are called and wait in the light by which you are enlightened, that all deceit in particular and in the general may be seen and judged. We bear you record that there is a witness of God manifest in you, and true desires which flow to God from you. Therefore take heed to the measure of God, that by it you may hear the voice of God and see his powerful presence. For by that which is manifested of God in man, God speaks, moves, and acts, and is known unto man.
They that neglect the measure of God, to walk in it, all their knowledge, experiences, and profession are for condemnation by that which changeth not. So all dwell in the measure which is the light, in the cross which keeps under and judges the fleshly man. Thus the understanding will be kept open to receive the mercies of God and to walk worthy of the mercies received. But turning aside from the light, you neglect the mercies and follow lying vanities, and err from the way of righteousness and bring yourselves under condemnation. For no longer is God enjoyed by man than while man abides in his counsel and in his fear, where the secrets of God are manifest and received by the light, which is the first entrance unto God and the fulness of the enjoyment of God. Beware of the world where all the temptations lie, to draw away your minds into the carnal and visible things out from the light by which the life is enjoyed, and so death passeth over you and condemnation cometh upon you, and the life be lost and misery be revealed against you.
Large is the love of God unto you in calling you and choosing you, and therefore forget not this love, but walk in it, up to God, from whom free redemption is manifest unto that which hath lain in death, overcome by the darkness. Follow not your own wills, nor the voice of the stranger and false prophet which draws out into visibles here and there, but have salt and discerning in yourselves, that you may try every motion and every spirit, and may by that which is infallible and errs not, comprehend and judge that which is fallible and erring, which flourisheth for a time, but comes to an end and is withered. This your own knowledge and consciences will set seal to, who have been scattered upon the mountains in the cloudy and dark day. But now the light is breaking forth and the day begins to appear, and all you who abide faithful shall see the glory of the Lord and shall enjoy him in the land of the living.
We charge you all in the Lord that you who profess the truth walk in it. And as you profess a change, let it appear by putting off the works of darkness, which by the light are made manifest unto you and testified against by the witness of God in you. Know this, that that which liveth in you which is contrary to God, witnessed against by the light of Christ, shall be as a prick in the eye and as a thorn in the side for ever. Wrath is to be revealed upon him that spareth the best and saveth the fat from judgment, for to the slaughter all must come so that life and glory may be made manifest. He that looks back by the way is not fit for the kingdom and he that returns again to the pollutions, his latter end is worse than his beginning, and the judgment of God cannot be escaped.
Therefore wait in the power of God and stand in the light, which is the armor against all temptations, whereby the darkness and death and he that hath the power of death, is overcome, and all that love the light are guided by it. And all dear Friends who have tasted of the love and power of God and do witness the rending of the earth, dwell in the power and pure fear of the Lord, that so all deceit may be kept down and under. Take heed of the false prophet's speaking or suffering your minds to run out in the openings, and so you will speak that which is opened in the light.
We charge you all in the presence of the dreadful God of life and power that you all wait in silence, and wait to have salt and savor in yourselves, to know the voice of Christ from the voice of the stranger, for till that be known in yourselves you are not able to judge. Therefore all wait in the light, which is the eye, which sees into the mysteries of the kingdom and none to utter a word, but what you are divinely moved unto, or else that in every one's conscience will bear witness against you.
Be not hasty when you see things open in your minds. Dwell in them and run not forth and speak, but treasure them up in your hearts, and take heed, and keep low in the fear of the Lord God so that pride and presumption get not up, nor any thing be exalted above that which is pure. Dear Friends, you are upon us as a great weight and burden lest we should have bestowed our labor in vain, but we hope and trust that the Lord will preserve you if you stand in obedience to that of God made manifest in you, and so you will grow. Take heed of striving and contending, but judge that spirit everyone in yourselves, that you may all grow up in the pure life of God. The everlasting power of God bless you all, and keep you in his everlasting love and power, and give the victory over your enemies so that you may come to witness eternal life from God made manifest in you.
Your brethren in the work of the Lord,
Dear Friends, in the everlasting covenant of life and peace whom we bear witness of and unto whom we have declared and preached in season and out of season, yea, and have often come unto in much weakness and fear and trembling and have not ceased day by day to watch over you, lest any should start aside from the hope of the gospel which was declared amongst you in demonstration of the Spirit, whereby your understandings came to be opened, even by the word of his power, which we directed you to wait in and for.
You are witnesses yourselves of the love and mighty power of God which was made manifest among you, which made the heathen to rage and confounded the wisdom of the wise. So dear children of light, of whom we have travailed in pain and great burdens that Christ might be formed in you, fulfil ye our joy and make our hearts glad in your growth up in him who hath called and spoken to you from heaven by his Son in the light.
Your ears have heard, your eyes have seen, and you have been made to understand the mystery of the kingdom of God, which is a parable to all the world and sealed and cannot be read but by you who continue and abide in the grace of God, which hath appeared to all men, which brings salvation to all that walk and abide in it and leads to the entrance, and earnest, and the sealing of the Spirit, until the time of the finishing of transgression and making an end of sin, and so the everlasting offering be witnessed, which perfects for ever them that are sanctified.
Therefore all Friends whose minds are turned to the light and do witness a change in you by the working of the Spirit, and now a door of hope being set open, abide in that measure every one and stay your souls upon him who is your hope. And keep low in the fear to the just principle of life so that you may have savor and discerning to know the voice of Christ from the voice of a stranger in yourselves and in others, and so grow up in the discerning and comprehend all spirits, and judge them by the light that makes all things manifest.
And all meet together in your several meetings and watch one over another. And be diligent in your measure and take heed you neglect not, and none be of a careless mind to meet and wait upon the Lord in silence, for such whose life stands only in words without, we deny, for their eyes and ears are without, and they would be ever learning, and that is the silly woman that is laden with lust. Take heed of taking liberty to the flesh. Give no ear nor liberty to the earth, but dwell in the cross to the carnal mind, and so you will witness the plant of the Lord watered and a growth in the immortal, and the seed you will see, which is one in all, which the promise is to.
All be still, cool, quiet, and of a meek spirit, so that out of boisterousness, eagerness, feignedness, and self-love you may be preserved up to God in your measures. If any be moved to speak a few words in your meetings—this we charge you all, that you speak nothing but that which is given, and in the sense and in the cross; and do not add your own words, for then you will burden others who dwell in the life. Take heed of whispering and back-biting one another. But if any see one to be overtaken or walking disorderly, reprove such a one privately and exhort privately, and bear and forbear one another, and so love will increase, and your joy, wisdom, strength will grow.
The Lord God of life preserve you all in his wisdom, and take heed of imaginations or running out. Do nothing hastily, but wait at wisdom's gate, that so you may do all things in wisdom. All be faithful in your measures and give up all freely unto the Lord so that he may take away your enemies and bring you into everlasting righteousness.
All Friends in your places—masters, parents, servants, and children in your places, be diligent in that which is just unto the Lord, that so the name of the Lord, by whom you are called, be not dishonored, but that you may all dwell single in the counsel of the Lord, in the light of Christ, which keeps you out of all pollutions and out of that nature that starves you and darkens you. The living God of life preserve you, for you are dear to us, even all of you, without respect of persons, who walk with the Lord. And we cease not to make mention of you to the Lord, and he hears us, that you may grow in the life of Christ Jesus to follow the Lamb wheresoever he leads you or moves you. For truly our hearts are bound to you in the Lord by one everlasting cord, and if you make us sorry, who shall make us glad, for you are our crown of rejoicing in the Lord.
We are your brethren, nay, your servants for Christ's sake.