The Missing Cross to Purity


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Sermon XIV

The Kingdom of God Within — All Must Come to Witness its Establishment Within

Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Grace church Street meeting house on Oct. 26, 1691

YOU have read and heard much concerning the day of the Lord, as a great and notable day; many of you are now living witnesses that the great and notable day of the Lord is coming, in which the accomplishment of great and notable things, the mighty works of God, which have been prophesied of, may be lawfully expected. It is the work of every Christian to wait upon the Lord in the Light of this day, and to be acquainted with the works of the Lord, both inwardly and outwardly. For the day of the Lord is a day of power, and that power of God works wonderful things. If we were not kept in the Light of that day, the Lord might work great things, and we would not know it; we would be looked upon as careless and negligent witnesses of the works of the Lord, as those who do not regard them. If you would be faithful witnesses, you must have regard to the works of the Lord, and the operation of his hands. One who intends to be a faithful witness will take notice of what is said and done. You are called to be witnesses of the works of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of his doings. You must stand where you may hear, and see, and understand what the Lord is about to do at this time.

In your testimony and witness bearing, the greatest thing we have to expect in this day of the Lord is that God will set up the Kingdom of his son Christ Jesus. To this all the prophets did bear witness in their time. Now it is our turn to bear witness of it by sensible and living experiences of the accomplishment of those things that they prophesied of, that the Lord will set up the Kingdom of Christ, and bring down and lay waste the kingdom of antichrist. This our savior taught his disciples to pray for, sixteen hundred years ago, that the Kingdom of God might come. All the true disciples of Christ ever since have prayed for the coming of this Kingdom, and many of them have seen the coming of it, and rejoiced; and others have died in the faith of it, and have been gathered into the Kingdom of Heaven.

But, my friends, what chiefly concerns us at this day, is to behold the Kingdom of Christ, the eternal Son of God, within us, to go forward and prosper; and the Kingdom of Antichrist suppressed and destroyed, and utterly laid waste; and this is wrought two ways, 1. Inwardly. 2. Outwardly.

First, Inwardly. There is a greater inclination in the minds of people, to look more at the operation of God's power in this great work outwardly, than to look at it inwardly, but unto that there must be a daily Cross taken up, and it is my business at this time to tell you in the name of the Lord, that your duty and mine is to turn our minds to the working of the power of God in ourselves, and to see that other Kingdom of the man of sin weakened and brought down within us. Then there is no fear but he will carry on his work outwardly, and we shall see as much of that work as belongs to our generation. But the great matter and chief concern of you and me is to see the Kingdom of God set up within us, which stands in holiness and righteousness. Our business is to walk until we see the righteousness of this Kingdom set up within us in our hearts and souls and to have a real change made.

We all know, and we must confess, that we have been subject to the man of sin, whatever we are now. We have seen the reign and government, the rage and tyranny of the wicked one that has led us into rebellion and disobedience to the Lord our maker. How do we like that government to be ruled by the devil, and to be led captive, and to be made to do his will, and to rebel against God that gave us our life, and our breath, and our being? How do we like that government of Satan? I hope none of us like it. It was so with me. Those under the tyrannical government of Satan have many cries and wishes in their souls that they were freed and delivered from it, and brought under the Government and obedience of Christ Jesus. The wish they were able to serve God as they ought to do, that they might be translated from the Kingdom of sin and Satan, into the Kingdom of the blessed and dearly beloved Son of God.

This has been the cry of some ever since they have known the world; and I am persuaded it is the cry of many at this day. I have good news to bring you; not that the day of your redemption draws near, but that it is come. The day of redemption is now come, and there are a great many blessing and glorifying the name of God that they are redeemed, and delivered from the bondage of corruption, and have more joy and delight in the service of God, that made them, than ever they had in the service of the God of this world.

But may not some say: How shall this great work be wrought; for it is a great work, and we truly think that nothing but an Almighty power can effect it? For there are many in this assembly who have been trying with no result, and done what they could in their own strength, to deliver their own souls from death, and yet they find themselves in bondage still; no, they have called in the help and assistance of those who they thought to be stronger than themselves, and all have failed, and they are yet weak and entangled, and they cannot find themselves at liberty to serve the Lord as they ought to do.

I am of this mind, that nothing but the almighty power of God can do it; and when you come to my experience, to know this as I have done, then I hope you will seek after that, and you will see good reason for it; and you will then come to this profession: "If the Lord does not put forth his Almighty power, then I will perish, for there is no other power that can deliver me." When you come to know this, what must you do? Why, you must wait for the revelation of that power that will take you off from all trust and confidence that you have ever had in anything else. A man that has nothing to trust to but the almighty power, and mercy, and goodness of God, he puts his whole trust and confidence in them, or else he knows he will perish.

When a man or woman comes to this point, that they have nothing to rely upon but the Lord, then they will meet together to wait upon the Lord. This was the first ground or motive of our setting up meetings; and I wish to God that this was the use that every one would make of them that come to them, then they would be justly and properly used according to the purpose of the institution of them at first. We should use them as poor, desolate, helpless people that have broken off from all their own confidence and trust, and have nothing to rely upon but the mercy and goodness of God. If he pleases to reveal his power among us, we know that he is able to save us; and we will have then met with the Revelation of God's power. When we have met together in simplicity of mind, the Lord was pleased to communicate his Spirit to us, and open a door for us, and discover and reveal to us that it was the day of his power. When we came to examine ourselves, whether we were willing in this day of God's power, (for the prophet gives us a note of distinction between the people of God, and other people; your people shall be willing in the day of your power, which is as much as to say, God discovers and reveals his power to them, such a people are willing to give themselves over to the government of it, when we found we were subject to it), we had joy in believing, before we attained the end of our hope. It was gladness to us that we found ourselves willing. I am persuaded that every one of you would be glad to find yourselves willing to part with what you cry out of.

What a cry is there of our bondage and corruption, and of our being led captive by our lusts? We may hear such a cry from one end of the kingdom to the other. People cry out of the bondage of corruption, and of their subjection to sin and Satan. I wish they were sincere. There is not that earnestness and reality in men and women that God looks for, and so nothing results. There is no redemption, and no deliverance, the Lord does not hear them, though they come into his presence, to offer up their prayers. I wish all of you to be sincere; I wish well to you all. And it would be hard to say that you do not wish well to yourselves. Here lies your welfare, that you find yourselves willing to be subject to the power that made you. You have been subject doubtless to the power that destroyed you; that power that never gave you life and breath, has been instrumental of your destruction. The power of the God of this world never did men good, but destroyed them, deceived them, and deprived them of their lives.

Now if there was but a willingness in every one of us, freely to give up ourselves to that power that created us in order to obey his will, I am sure there is not a man or woman among us who would not shortly have the knowledge of it. If I am only willing to be subject to the law of him who made me, it will not be long before he shows it to me, and reveals his power in me in the glory and excellence of it; which power is more able to preserve me than all the power of men on Earth, or all the power of the devils in hell is able to destroy me. When the Lord shall show and reveal his power in you, you will be willing to be subject to it.

But I think the sound and noise of flesh and blood grows loud here. [I think I hear some say] I would like to be subject to God, but I would not have him cross my interest [my will], and deprive me of what I love and thirst after. I would not have him embitter my carnal delights and pleasures, and ruin my reputation in the world.

You may see where this comes, that you would make a bargain, and draw a contract with the God of your lives about these things. This is a nonsensical thing because of all people in the world, you are a people that have had a veneration for the holy scriptures, the scriptures of truth, and have been acquainted with them so familiarly as with any book in the world; wherein you find articles drawn, long ago fixed and sealed. No new ones are to be drawn. If anyone will be my disciple, John or Thomas, James or Peter, or whoever he is, he must take up his daily cross, and deny himself, and follow me. Now here is a contract made, therefore turn aside from all kind of reasoning and consulting with flesh and blood.

If you will become spiritual, and partake of spiritual blessings and benefits, I would advise you to turn from all kind of reasonings that come from the pit of darkness, that has thus far deceived you, and will ruin you forever, if you hearken to them. For assure yourselves no man can make new gospel requirements. If any comes to preach a gospel with new requirements count him a deceiver. For there is no possibility of being a disciple of Christ, but by taking up a cross daily, and denying ourselves, and following him as our leader and guide. To him I must go, and go in no other way, speaking nothing, or doing nothing but what is holy and pure. He must conduct me in my walking, guide me in my way, and justify me in it. This is to be a true disciple of Christ.

As soon as he comes to adhere, and join to the power of God revealed in his soul, he sees the coming of the Kingdom of God; he sees it at a distance and says within himself, and makes this conclusion, I will follow my captain, I will become subject to the Kingdom of Christ. If I obey this divine principle of the grace of God, and the gospel of Christ, I shall be his disciple. I read in his blessed book that as many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the children of God. I am not to propose new requirements, but accept of the old requirements of the gospel of Christ. I see that the Kingdom of God is to be set up, and the Kingdom of the devil to be brought down in me. If I follow this divine principle, I should never follow the devil any more. If he would have me lie, I shall refuse, and say I cannot. If he would have me run into vain and corrupt communication [conversation], and foolish jesting, that will be a bridle to me, that I cannot do it.

I speak now to persons that live under the Light of the gospel of Christ, and that are subdued by his grace. I would speak what all the logic in the world cannot overthrow, what the most cunning logician, with all his wit and quirks, cannot refute and prove erroneous. If a man is led by the Spirit of God, he cannot lie; this is a common cure for all men. If I am led by the Spirit of truth, and hearken to the Principle of truth in my own soul, this will cure and heal me of the wounds and maladies of my corrupt nature, and set me at liberty from my old master. I do not like his service.

I hope if any of you like the servitude and bondage of sin and Satan, you will desire liberty before you die. Why do you not desire it now? It may be you hope to enjoy a little liberty and reputation, and pleasure in sin for many years, for six or seven, nine or ten years, and then break off from it, and repent and turn to God. How do you know that you have ten days to live? It is of high concern to every one of us to wait for a discovery of gospel-liberty, and an ability and power in his soul, to enable him to break off from the servitude and bondage of sin and Satan, that he has so long lived under; and to wait upon God with patience for the setting his soul at liberty, and setting up the Kingdom of Christ within him, and pulling down the Kingdom of Satan. So that he may be brought into the Kingdom of Christ, that consists in peace and righteousness and joy in the Holy Ghost. These are the things that follow one another; when righteousness is set up in me, I shall not be disturbed, I shall have peace; and if I have peace I shall have joy, and this joy is in the Holy Ghost the apostle said the Kingdom of God consists in these things.

Now that every one might be persuaded that God has given a measure of his grace to them, as well as to others, let them consider and say within themselves, God has not shut me out of the number of his people. He has knocked at the door of my heart, to bring me to repentance; he has waited upon me so long, surely he has a mind to save me. Would he call upon me, unless he intends I should repent and turn to him?

But where is the power? You will say knocking at the door of the heart, and checks of conscience, we understand them; but we do not understand where the power is, that allows us to conform to the Will of God.

People will never understand it while they are in the Kingdom of Satan, and under the power of the prince of darkness. The apostle tells us that the God of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine upon them. If men saw the beauty of the gospel, they would run after it, and embrace it; therefore the devil blinds their minds, that they should not see the beauty and amiableness of the gospel, and like the terms of it. He has the rule and government of the children of disobedience. So long as I live in subjection to that devilish, hellish power, which leads me forth into sin, I shall be a stranger to God's power that would enable me to break off from it.

[Without the power of God working in you, there is no victory, there is no overcoming. There are three sources to the power of God being released to purify you: 1) power in the belief and faith in the true hope and gospel, 2) power in bearing the inward cross of self denial, and 3) the power thinking on the name of Jesus. This power of God works in us, and keeps us through faith to salvation, which is to be delivered from sin. Christendom today is without the cross and without the true hope; and so without the power of God, left only as a form (hollow shell) of the original Christianity, without the new life of the new creature, without holiness, wallowing in sin, boasting of their imperfection, perishing, whose end is destruction. For without the power of God released to change a man, his heart remains full of sin and unacceptable to God, whatever his lips may say in the form of worship. The true hope is detailed in John 14 and John 17 with commentary and footnotes. With the true hope, carrying the inward cross of self-denial with obedience to his spoken and heard words, while meditating on the name of Jesus: the combination of all, to access the changing, infinite power of God to work in you, cleansing you, purifying you, delivering you from all sin, and bringing you into union with God into his kingdom, while on earth and then forever.]

You never read in scripture of any that ever came to be saved by the power of God, but that there was faith mixed with it, that came to join with that power of God. Our Savior said to the impotent man, "Your faith has made you well;" your faith joining with that power of God. We shall be made strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and be able to withstand temptations.

As soon as the soul of man joins with the grace of God, he forsakes the service of his old master and governor. Sin shall no longer have dominion over him. Though he may meet with the same temptation, it shall not have the same power over him, but he will be enabled, by the grace of God to withstand it, and overcome it. If you ask such a man, how it is that he overcomes that temptation that formerly prevailed over him; he will tell you, I have now a helper; I am now joined to the grace of God in my soul, therefore I withstand temptations and have power over them. Thus the Kingdom of Christ comes to be set up in the soul, and this is what will fit and prepare us for the everlasting Kingdom of God: those who do wait upon God, shall see this work wrought inwardly in them, they know more by faith than they can see by sense.

I know and am certain, that the power the devil has in the world, shall be broken down, and righteousness shall be exalted, and justice and equity shall prevail in the nations. I shall not perhaps live to see it, but I may see it by faith. I have seen enough for my generation, and those who live in the next generation shall see it also. For the church of God is the same from one generation to another. Now unto us it is given to see the things that in former generations were prophesied of, God having (said the apostle) provided some better thing for us, that they without us, shall not be made perfect.

The church of God from one generation to another, has its measure and degree of service, and bears its proper testimony, and leaves the rest to succeeding generations. It concerns us in our generation to see a change made inwardly in our souls, and the Kingdom of Christ set up within us, and the kingdom of Satan brought down in ourselves. This does not concern my son or grandson only, but it concerns me, and when they grow up to mature age, in their time it will concern them. Therefore what is most profitable to us, is, that we have such a station, and stand in such a place in our time, where we may see the work of God carried on.

I have considered many a time, that there are many brave men and women in this age, that might have been eminent witnesses of God in this world, and borne their testimony to his truth, but their faith has been weak and ineffectual. They have discovered their unbelieving hearts and have joined with the common herd of the world because they thought such great things could never be done, that the kingdom of Satan could never be pulled down and destroyed, and the Kingdom of Christ set up within us. But I would hope better things for you, things that accompany salvation and that he that has begun a good work in you will carry it on to perfection; that living praises and joyful thanksgivings may be rendered to him who alone is worthy, who is God over all, blessed forever; to whom be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

SERMON XV

The Undefiled Way to Eternal Rest

Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Devonshire House, July 29, 1691

My friends,

THE Lord will be with all his people, who are undefiled in the way, and who are spiritual travelers walking in that undefiled way that leads to an undefiled rest. There are some that by this way have entered into rest, that rest which God has prepared for them. We cannot apply to ourselves that promise that is made to us of entering into rest, unless we are real and true travelers in the way that leads to it, for if we are not in the way, we deceive our own souls.

[What is the rest to which we must enter? The rest is to have ceased from our own thoughts, words, and deeds. The rest is to enter union with God, and sit down with Christ in the heavens, to become a part of Christ [in his body], to be energized by the power of God, to be supplied with thoughts from God, with words to speak from God, and be shown by God what to do; everything prompted to noble actions according to the will of God. The rest is to no longer be fighting our enemies: lust, pride, anger, sexual immorality, greed, covetousness; but to sit back in purity and power, watching the will of God unfold before our eyes and mind; the will of each moment in our life, supplied with the perfect, noble, pure, constructive, helpful thing to say and do. We cease to be an individual and become a part of Christ’s body, with him, the head, instructing us what perfect thing to do next. We cease from our own dead works, to do works of life, serving the living God.]

Therefore you that have had a sight and vision of the way everlasting, that leads unto a holy rest, you are an engaged people to make strait steps therein, and to have it your daily care, and make it your continual business, to look that your goings and foot-steps are of the same nature and kind that the rest is that you desire to enter into. For it is an undefiled rest, that we all are, or ought to be traveling after; therefore every one of us must be undefiled in the way, and every foot-step must be of the same kind and nature, and separate from all what defiles it and pollutes it, that so it may have a tendency to the bringing of the soul nearer to its rest.

This holy rest many travelers have attained by this holy travel, and many are still in hope to attain it.

But now those who are full of hope of attaining this rest, their foot-steps and goings are not of the same nature and kind; they are not holy and pure, they are not undefiled. These do not have their faces turned towards Zion, though the face of their profession may stand that way; but the Lord looks at the heart of every one, and he knows which way the heart stands. They who have their hearts truly turned to the Lord, they have the mark of holiness in their eye, and the mark of purity and righteousness in all their undertakings, because they know there is no attaining to that divine rest, but by a holy way and travel; therefore their trust and reliance is alone on the Lord, that is to keep them in all their way; for if they are ever so clearly convinced that holiness and righteousness is their duty, and is the way in which they may attain to the kingdom of God, though they are ever so fully convinced of it, yet there lies an impossibility of any walking therein without the divine assistance of the grace of God; for though they have been convinced by the appearance of his grace, and have had a light that opens to them a sight of these things, it is not this sight and vision that will enable them to run the race that is set before them.

For the manifold impurities and hindrances which are in our way, between our coming out of Egypt's land, the bondage of corruption, and our entering into the kingdom of God, are too mighty and too great for any man with his knowledge and strength to overcome. The children of Israel might as well have gone through the Red Sea, without the help of God, as the Christian traveler can go through the many difficulties, and the many impediments that he is to meet with in his way, without the assistance of God's Holy Spirit.

My friends, it has been a labor and travail at this time upon my mind, that all whom God has so signally blessed with the knowledge of the truth, that you may see your way, and most clearly know and understand, that your way leads to life eternal; that all and every one of you in your particular meetings, are to have a dependence upon what can help you in your way.

For I have seen too many that have had a wrong dependence, after they were rightly convinced, and after they have had a true knowledge of their way in which they should walk; they have too much trusted to openings and sights that they have past received. They have thought their mountain so sure, and that their feet have been past sliding, that there has grown up a state of presumption, that they have thought they would never turn aside, and have not had due regard to the renewing of the Divine Power of God in their souls, that God's children always must have. They have (as I may so say) forgotten what our Lord said, without me you can do nothing. They have passed a sentence upon that doctrine in their minds, and they have thought they could do something; that they could withstand temptation; that they could do some work for God, and service to God, without the Divine Assistance of that power that begat them; and alas! the least they have sustained has been, that they have run into evil, and they have defiled their way, and run into temptations, though it has pleased the Lord, whose mercy is infinite, to pull them many times back again out of the snare into which they had fallen, and to take them again, and to wash them, and cleanse them, and purify them, and set their feet on a sure place. This was more than they deserved; but his mercy, and goodness, and tenderness, is over all his works.

This he has wrought for many a one; and not only once, but many times; it is hard venturing; it had been better if such a one had never fallen, or that their footsteps had never slid from the ways of the Lord, than after they are fallen, to be renewed again by repentance. It has caused sore judgment, and condemnation, and anxiety of spirit; and they have given their old enemy an advantage to whisper in their ears; you have lost your ground; your sins are gone over your head, and you shall never find repentance. These are the words of the wicked one, who seeks occasion against us; and through our carelessness, and not being watchful, we put an advantage into his hands. Now seeing you know he is vigilant, and seeks occasion that he may turn you out of your way, before you attain to the end of it, you ought to be vigilant to keep occasions from him.

But some may say, how may I keep occasions and advantages from the enemy? I answer, the way has been often told you, and I dare say most of you have tried it, and found it to be true, that so long as you have remained in a watchful state and posture, and have had your minds exercised by the grace of God, by which you were convinced of your sin, and by which your duty was manifested to you, so long you gave the enemy of your souls no occasion; that the truth preserved you in which you trusted, and in which you hoped and waited for the virtue and power of it. Did you find lack of ability then? Did the enemy prevail then? He did not cease to tempt when you were in the most watchful state of a Christian; the devil did not then cease to tempt you, but you found in you a power that resisted him, and said, get you behind me Satan.

[Perhaps it would be helpful to focus on obedience. For by obedience we receive the grace to stand; by obedience to the commands and understandings that we have received from the Lord. Certainly, we must be vigilant, but we also must remember what we are obligated to deny and turn away from. Anything the Lord has commanded us, we are able to perform, for he gives us his power to perform his commands. Anything he commands us to deny, he gives us the power to deny them; but we must be willing to do our part in turning away. He does 90%, we do 10%; but we cannot expect him to do 100%. We are held responsible to what we have been ordered to deny; we are held responsible to observe his teachings; we are held responsible to keep his words; we are held responsible to review his commands periodically and keep repenting. If we do that, we will not fall to temptation, for his power will change us. The same grace that charges us with sin, will remove the sin from our heart, providing we truly repent of that sin; and providing we continue repenting, eventually even the desire for that sin is removed from our hearts – by grace, mercy, kindness – the sin is purged from us. And if we stay vigilant, that sin stays out of our hearts.]

So long as you are upon your watch; so far as you keep your mind fixed upon the Divine Power, so long you are in a sure place; and whoever turns aside from this, they suffer great harm and prejudice, and if ever they are restored again, it is with loss and damage, and sore exercise; and if they are not restored, they are lost to all eternity. Then it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. And then they said within themselves, this must be the way.

Sirs, these things pertain to your everlasting welfare; I speak to you as a people whom God has abundantly loved; and it has been far beyond anything of defect. He has made known his ways to you; the Lord may say, concerning you of this city, as of old, what could I have done more for my vineyard that I have not done? So he may say concerning you, what could I have done more to make them a grown people, a holy people, an entire people, that they may bear my name, and walk before me in holiness and righteousness all the days of their lives? What should have been done more for them?

But this is an exercise to us, whom God has blessed, and set as watchmen, to behold and see the state of his people, and to feel and bear the burdens that are to be borne; and this is a great burden, that after all that God has done, and that we do in the hands of God, all that is necessary for the welfare of the people, there are some that turn aside, and defile their way; and we testify in the name of the Lord, that whoever walks in a defiled way, shall never come to an undefiled rest; therefore that you do not attain to that undefiled rest, it is because you have been defiled. Seeing the holy conduct of the people of God is the effect of the working of his own power and Spirit.

Here comes the rest, by and through a Mediator, even Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the Mediator between God and man, and the leader of all his people in the way of holiness and righteousness, which he has made manifest to those who believe and obey the power. And he has purchased eternal salvation for all that believe and obey the gospel. But the transgressors do not obey the gospel; the Spirit of Christ does not lead you to transgression; and the power and light that comes from Christ, does not lead you to pride, vanity, envy and bitterness. Wherever these things are led into, there is another spirit, and that other spirit has another tendency, it leads into the wrath of God.

And my friends, this is what my soul desires at your hands, and it is for your good and advantage; it is my duty to discharge my conscience, and to speak plainly as the Lord shall give me utterance, to warn you that you abide in the truth; for if you are not saved, but will turn aside after your own hearts' lusts, after your pride and the vanity of the world, and the lusts thereof, you may blame yourselves, and your iniquity will be your ruin. We who have given up ourselves to God for your sakes, and the churches' sake, we speak these things which we have learned of God, and we earnestly press you that are convinced, that you walk in the truth which you have believed. There is no great need of more knowledge, and of the vision of heavenly and divine things; for abundance of you have seen more of the things of God, than ever you have traveled and come up into. I would to God that every one of you that are convinced, would come up to the treasure of the knowledge you have received. O! that you would answer the Lord's power, in opening and discovering his mind and will concerning your travel, and the things that belong to his everlasting peace, that your foot-steps may be directed thereby. If you will walk in this undefiled way, you may lie down at night, and rise in the morning with peace, and in the favor of the Lord, and have the answer of a good conscience in his light.

The means that must help and conduct us in this way, must be that familiar converse that the soul must have with something greater than itself; the familiar converse that the soul must have with the Divine Power, with that manifestation of Divine Light and Grace, which, through Jesus Christ, God has given unto you. For if a man prize and esteem the truth ever so much, and suffer ever so much for it, and love the minister ever so much, if he keep not a familiar converse with the truth, notwithstanding all his profession of love to the truths of the gospel and the preachers of it, he will reproach it. Though he professes and says, I love you, I love you; though he has suffered much in the way, yet if he loves not the truth in his own heart, and desires not to feel the excellence and virtue of it, that man will certainly dishonor the truth, and grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

We warn you to take heed of your way, and to your feet in your Christian walk, that you may come to have an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God. Pray to God that the work of regeneration may be wrought upon you, that you may be born into another seed, and partake of the divine nature. Then, though the devil assault you, he cannot overcome you; he will find nothing in you whereby to betray you into his hands; when that change is wrought, and when God has made an alteration, and has brought you out of the love of the world, and the love of earthly things, and set your affections above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Now you can say, there comes a temptation with this instrument, and the other instrument, and the devil lays things before me that he would have me to do, but I have no inclination to it, I have no mind to be sucking at the world's breasts; but my mind is set upon this, that I may reach acquaintance with God, who will be a present help to me, and tread down Satan under my feet.

There is need of your continual care and vigilance, and that you watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. It is not so easy a thing for a man or woman while they are in this world to do anything without sin; but God has called you to a holy profession; which is, that you should do all you can do, to do every thing you do without sin. For whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, you should do all to the glory of God. This spirit we would have in you, and we would have all you that have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, to walk in him as you have received him. Then you shall be kept undefiled in the way, and delivered from temptation.

To this end you must be still, waiting upon the Lord, so that you may have acquaintance with him from day to day; you are in the world, but you should not be of the world. The prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ, to his heavenly Father for his disciples, was not that he should take them out of the world, but keep them from the evil.

Merchants, tradesmen, and shop-keepers, have always something to do in the world, but they should pray earnestly that they may be kept from the evil of the world. There is nothing can be done in the world, but there is evil in it, which we shall be overcome by, if we do not keep our watch. In the government of a family, there are occasions and provocations given to be passionate and furious; many occasions are given to men and women; but we should not be transported and overcome. Our profession obliges us, that when a child or a servant gives a provocation, we are not to behave ourselves unseemly, and unbecoming our holy profession; for it is not in their power, nor in the devil's power either, to kindle your wrath and anger into a shame. If you are upon your watch, and wait upon the Lord, he will give you wisdom and strength to stand against all temptations whatsoever and to order your conduct according to the will of God, and as becomes the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In merchandise, buying and selling, there are snares, and there is evil we may run into; but this is our comfort and joy, there is no coercion, we cannot be forced to sin, the devil can only lay a temptation before me; if you will tell a lie, equivocate, dissemble, here is an advantage for you; but the devil with all his subtlety, power and allurements, cannot say, you will run into this sin, and be overcome by this temptation; for though of ourselves we can do nothing, yet in the name and strength of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can do all things; we can do what is just, and stand over the temptation, and trample upon it, and not be overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. When we have bought and sold, we may look back upon what we have done with pure minds, and clean consciences in the sight of God, and we may come off victors, and more than conquerors (over temptations) through Jesus Christ, who has loved us.

The more a Christian keeps himself unspotted, and the more watchful he is in his walking, he may go on from day to day, and see the snares of the devil, that lies in this vanity, and this and the other vanity and temptation, and yet escape it.

I would I could say of some of you, that when the devil laid a snare for you, you did not run into it when you saw it. I have known some that have had understanding enough, that they need not be told where the snare of the devil lies; yet so has it been, the devil and their own hearts lusts have agreed together, and they have run into the snare. This is from the old confederacy that men have had with God's enemies; you are my friends, said Christ, if you do whatever I command you. If you are the friends of Christ, you will be his subjects, and yield obedience to him; when he shows them a snare, they will keep out of it. This is the proof of a true Christian — that he will be true in a time of trial, and will trust in that divine power that keeps him out of the snare.

One thing more I would say about the divine fellowship that you have with Christ Jesut: it consists in holiness of life and conduct, and the exercise of a good conscience towards God, and towards man. It is in vain to tell me that you will walk in unity with the truth, unless you have unity with the truth in your own hearts; you cannot receive the Lord, nor long deceive his people either. Here is the fellowship that you are to live in all your days — to live in fellowship with the people of God, and communion of saints. Can the saints have communion in anything but holiness? And holiness is a blessed, sacred thing, it becomes the house  of God forever; those who are saints, are sanctified and made holy; and he that sanctifies and those who are sanctified, are all of one; for which cause, he is not ashamed to call them bothers Heb 2:11. Those who are sanctified have become saints, they bring forth the fruits of holiness and sanctification, and they have come into fellowship in the spirit with God and one another. Every branch in a tree, said Christ:, that does not bear fruit, he takes away; but every branch that bears fruit, he purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit. That branch that does not bear fruit, is cast into the fire and burned.

There are some that bring forth fruit, but it is fruit to the flesh, and the wicked one; and I hope you are not of that number. These separate themselves from the life of the true vine; these have no fellowship or true membership with the church of Christ, while they walk as captives to the devil, and sin; these are of the world, and not of the church. If you would have fellowship with the church, do not think to have it by outward conformity. Do not think that this will maintain your fellowship with Christ, without a life of inward holiness and righteousness; for that day you break with the truth in yourselves, you break off your fellowship with the church of God, and break your peace with God, and can no way be restored again to the favor of God, except by an unfeigned repentance; for the mystery of faith is to be kept in a pure conscience. How is my conscience defiled, if I do not wrong this, or the other man or woman? Some can hold the mystery of faith; so far as it consists in a profession, they can profess it, and they preach it; but they have not held the mystery of faith in Christ, so as to receive life, and virtue, and comfort from him. You may have gotten knowledge of the history of words and doctrines; but as soon as you defile your conscience, by doing evil things, and depart from the principle of grace, you make shipwreck of faith.

But, my friends, as you have a mind to continue and abide in the faith, and in this travel and heavenly journey, I would give you this as a certainty, for it will do you good even when my head lies low. The way to continue in the church of God, and communion of saints, and to retain your peace with God, is to keep a familiar converse* with the truth in your own souls, and it will keep you from falling, and lead and guide you in your way, in your travel and journey to Heaven. As the mother, when the child cries after her, but cannot go, takes it by the hand and leads it, so if you keep close to the truth, it can lead you through all difficulties, through great business as well as little, and deliver you from snares and temptations, and when you are assaulted, it can bring you off clear. As for communion with God, and communion with the saints and people of God, it stands in that peace, and purity, and keeping a holy frame of mind in your heavenly travel, in the undefiled way, which will at last brings you to the undefiled everlasting rest that remains to the people of God.

[*A familiar converse with the truth, is to wait on God, silently listen for his words, watch for his revelations, hear his words, obey whatever you are commanded, observe his teachings, and retain his words forever.]

SERMON XVI

The Dawning of the Day of Grace and Salvation

Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Grace-Church-Street, April 2, 1691

My Friends,

YOU cannot but know and be sensible, that a gospel-day, a day of grace and salvation, has dawned upon you, and that the light of it has broken through many clouds of darkness, which sometimes you could not see through. This is an inestimable and unspeakable mercy of God unto us, that the light of the gospel of salvation shines upon a people, who without it must be miserable.

There has been a very dark and cloudy day upon our forefathers, and also upon us, in the days of our ignorance. We are apt to wander here and there, and to be turned aside with the wind of men’s' doctrine, that we could not find a rest, a home or a settlement for our souls, in order to eternal life. And there are many who have cried unto God to please to reveal his way and to make it known unto them' and they have been likely to promise the Lord, that if they could once come to a certainty of the way, they would walk in it. Unto such as these the Lord has bowed his ear, and has answered them; and in his answering the cry of the soul, he has brought salvation near, and has revealed the power by which he would bring it to pass, in every particular soul that receives the gospel of his Son.

[Crsip speaks of the gospel being an individual experience of God showing his power and revealing the taste of what salvation feels like. That is why the gospel is a mystery, that can only be revealed by revelation from God. What has not been revealed is a mystery, until it is revealed: the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 2 Cor 4:4. ]

But now friends, you that are sensible of this blessed and glorious visitation of his gospel-day, in which salvation is brought near, it is needful for every one to examine their own hearts, whether they have really received the gospel; whether they have received and embraced the great bounty, and unspeakable blessings of the gospel, with which the Lord God of life has visited us, or whether they have rejected it. For though it is our happiness to know the visitation of life, yet it does not follow that every one that is visited will be made an heir of it; for there are many that fall short through their unbelief. There are many that have received the gospel, who do disobey the gospel of Christ, and so have not eternal life by it.

When people come to this serious examination of themselves in this, then the light and grace, that comes from Christ unto every one of us, both to him who rejected it, as well as to him who receives it, that will make known to them their state and condition, with respect to the gospel of Christ. For there are a great many, that by an alienation of their minds from the light of Christ Jesus, are apt to be mistaken in their state, and to make a better judgment of themselves, and of their state inwardly, than really it will amount to in the day that the Lord searches and tries them. But those who make a judgment of themselves, by the openings and discoveries that they have through the light of Christ Jesus (for so we are to do in this weighty matter) they make a judgment of their state and condition, according to the evidence that the Spirit of God bears to their spirits, and this I hope you will all say is a most certain way. For if we go to compare ourselves one with another, and say, I am better than you and that man is better than I, here we are liable and subject to a great many errors, where there ought to be none. But if we come to measure and determine our present state and condition, by the evidence of the Spirit of God, bearing witness with our spirits, here we have a foundation to place an infallible and certain judgment upon. And those who are obedient to the gospel of Christ, are capable of giving a sound judgment of their state, because they are made partakers, through Christ, of that grace, and light, and truth, which they would be obedient to, and they are brought into a kind of knowledge and understanding of their duty, whether they do it or not. And this knowledge, and this understanding that God has given them, makes them capable to pass a right judgment upon their own state. They will not call it a good state, if it is an evil state; and they will not call it an evil state, if it is a good one. They know it is good by the principle of truth in their judgment.

Therefore since there are so many uncertainties in the world, and that men are so apt to take hold of an uncertain way of judging and determining, even in matters relating to their souls; there is a greater aptness in people to take hold of uncertainties, in judging about the matters of their souls, than in those things that relates to their bodies. Since people are so liable to it, it can do none of us harm to exhort one another, and move and stir up one another, to make a calculation of our states, by something that will not deceive. There is an abundance of people deceived in this country, as well as other countries; we shall not need to go into foreign parts to find people deceived and deluded. It will not be amiss to say that the drunkard, the swearer, the liar, the oppressor, the proud, and the malicious, are deceived. If they were not deceived, they would never be overcome by the wicked one, the author of all evil he has deceived them, in that they should think to go on in these things, and cry peace, peace, to one another, and in their own souls. This is a great delusion; and the devil is the great deluder that they are deluded by. And it would be worth the while to find out what would make a man think himself in a happy state, and hope to enjoy eternal life, with God and Christ, and when he goes on in sin and iniquity; it would be worth the while to find out the delusion.

There is nothing so proper to turn every one to the grace of God, as to search their own hearts and try their ways. This is what will discover their thoughts, and make them known to themselves. This is God's grace and gift to men while they are yet sinners and disobedient; he does not withhold his grace, but gives his grace, and light and truth, even to the rebellious. He gives gifts to men, even to the rebellious, that he might have a place and dwelling among them, that they might know there is a God that searches the heart, and tries the reins, and judges all unrighteousness. If God has given you so much grace, that he might have a dwelling in your heart, should not that restrain you from sin, that the devil, by his temptations, might not defile you, and unfit you for the kingdom of God? When the Lord comes to search the heart, it is in order to the purging of it, and the taking away of iniquity and sin, that would make you unfit for his kingdom. This is a better way, and more excellent than living to the flesh, and fulfilling the lusts thereof. Let people live ever so much to their own corrupt wills, in pride, wantonness, looseness, and the vanity of their minds, they will not find so much true satisfaction and delight, as in living a holy life, living in the fear of God, and avoiding sin, and keeping themselves from the temptations and snares of the devil.

This is a more excellent way; and it is our work and business to declare to people this more excellent way, which all, one time or other, will confess. This is irksome, some will say this will abate my pleasure and delights in the world, and spoil my secular interest. If it were not for this reason, they would grant it were better to live a holy life, and to live in the fear of God, than live in the service of the devil; and their carnal interest lies in the way, and weighs down the scale, but it is because you join with it, otherwise the devil, and all the powers of hell, could not weigh it down. If people would consider these things seriously, they would say, it is better to serve God, that made them, and gave them life, and breath, and being, than him who would destroy them; and then when they meet with the pleasures and delights of the world, that the devil lays before them, they would never weigh down the scale against a Divine Reason. If you will give your heart to it, and seriously consider it, it will weigh down the scale against all temptations to live in sin, and pleasure, and jollity. If you will but join with this Divine Reason, that tells you these carnal pleasures and enjoyments are not necessary for your soul, but it is necessary to live a holy, heavenly life, and to serve the Lord that gave you life, and breath, and all things; who has promised you manifold preservations. If that will but join with the Divine Reason, and hearken to that which opens the truth in your own heart, all the devil can do, cannot make you serve him; for the devil has no coercion, no power to force you to commit sin; he cannot make a man work wickedness against his will; he must cloud the understanding, and work upon the will, and allure and entice the affections by earthly things. So you cannot be forced by the devil against your will, to yield to his temptations, to commit any sin, but you may say, “I will do it.”

I confess, when the understanding is bribed, and the will allured and seduced by the devil's temptations, there is no withstanding them. But on the other hand, if men would give up themselves to the power of God, they would have Divine Assistance; and joining with that power, they would be more than conquerors. Therefore we cannot but be encouraged to keep in the way of the Lord, and have acquaintance with the power of God, which will preserve you, and give you victory over all the temptations and assaults of the devil; and without this power you cannot overcome; but if you have the assistance of this power, nothing will be too hard for you. When you are in straits, and in a helpless condition, you sometimes are ready to cry out, “I shall not overcome my spiritual enemies; I shall never get victory over sin and the world, the flesh, and the devil; and I shall never be able to withstand his temptations, but they will prevail over me all my days.” No wonder you make this conclusion, when you have parted with your truth and dependence on that power that is able to overcome the devil, and baffle him in your thoughts, words and deeds.

You may be ready to say, “alas! of myself I can do nothing; I am not able of myself so much as to think a good thought; yet by Divine Assistance, I do many times think good thoughts. In me, that is, in my flesh, there dwells nothing that is good. Not in my flesh abstractly; separate from the power of God, and the Divine Assistance promised unto me. In my flesh dwells nothing that is good. But if you take me as one who has faith in Christ the Mediator, this faith embraces the tender of the love of God in the Redeemer. And when I have this faith, a good thing dwells in me; and from this good thing that dwells in me, there flows forth good words and good actions." Then you come to be acquainted with a power greater than your own; and if you trust in it, you will be able to withstand temptations. When you are tempted to any sin, you will not only be able to withstand the temptation, but to overcome it too, and to be more than conquerors in your spiritual warfare. This relying upon, and trusting in the power of God, is what we call faith; and this faith is the operation of God.

To speak in plain words, God will operate upon your mind, and make you know, that this is his power, light, truth and grace, by which he would save you. And after God has wrought and opened unto you in this manner, it is your duty then to believe in it, to put your trust and confidence in it, to be delivered. But though faith he offered unto me, yet it is not forced upon me; God has offered faith to all men, but he does not force it upon any. All have an opportunity offered to them, if they will but join with it, they may have faith wrought in them, and be fitted and prepared for the kingdom of God.

There are many that are convinced of the truth of the doctrine that we preach to them, but they do not get into the power of the truth; they will hear us preach of the power of truth, and will hear what this man said, and what the other man said; and this will serve their turn, that they may talk of religion, and make a profession. But they do not seek after that power that should enable them to work out their own salvation. These persons grow in knowledge, but they do not grow in grace; they will embrace truth as far as doctrine and words will go. They have professed it, and they have suffered reproach for it, and yet they have not received the truth in the love of it; they cannot reach to the power of it. They glory in their knowledge and in their understanding, but they do not come to what sanctifies them. They are not able to resist the devil, and to stand against his temptations; when a temptation comes, they join with it, but they cannot withstand it. They come to the knowledge of truth in words, but they do not come to the knowledge of the power of it in their hearts and minds, so as to make them prepared vessels for God's honor. God is more dishonored by them than by those who never professed his name. They fall into the temptation of the devil, and never discern the operation of God's power in their own hearts.

Secondly. There is another error as great as this: there are a great many that when the Lord's power has wrought in their hearts, and they have had truth opened to them in the power of it, yet they have not believed in it; they have not had faith wrought in their hearts, they have not trusted in it, nor relied upon the power; so they are weak and feeble, they have little faith, which is next to none at all. However much knowledge they have, how easy can the devil tempt them to sin, if they have no faith; this is the victory, said the apostle, that overcomes the world, even your faith. This is not my victory, that I see the subtleties and wiles of Satan, and know much; but what is my victory is my faith. My trust is in the power of God, and my reliance upon him who is God, mightier than all the finest of men and devils; that God who knows my heart. If I am faithful to him, and rely upon him by faith, I shall resist the devil, and withstanding his temptations, obtain victory over them.

[Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of God, the word that is near you, in your heart and mouth, so that you may obey it; that is the word of faith we preach. You must be obedient to the commands you hear, for your faith to be anything but lip service. The father of faith was Abraham, who obeyed God’s voice; his faith was strong enough that he obeyed God, to leave his homeland, to circumcise himself and all males in his family, and to sacrifice his son (which was retracted). Abraham didn’t just say: “yes, God spoke to me, and I believe in God; the things he has told me to do are unrealistic for me to do, but I certainly know and believe there is a God.” Hearing and obeying is your faith; such faith has power. Hearing without obedience is doubt, the lack of faith, therefore with no power of God released. Without obedience, there is no salvation; without obedience, there is no spiritual progress. With obedience there is power, salvation, righteousness, union, translation, purity, perfection, and holiness. Obedience to the commands you hear spoken to you is the key!]

This power you may have by the gospel; but then you must be true to the power of it in yourselves; for I do distinguish between the gospel, as it is a doctrine and word preached, and an invisible, divine power working upon men by the preaching of the gospel; you will all hear the gospel preached, though you may be ever so proud and high-minded, and you will say it is true; but you can never come to the saving knowledge of the gospel itself, until you find it working inwardly upon yourselves.

We do not pretend to any power of opening men’s hearts, as God opened the heart of Lydia, except when people come to wait upon God with a serious and religious mind, you will find the power of the word working effectually upon you, and so the gospel will become the power of God to your salvation. This is, and shall be my prayer, for all religious assemblies, that the Lord will be pleaded to teach them, by his invisible word, and beget living desires in them towards himself, and bring them to an effect of holiness and righteousness, that they may adorn the gospel of Christ, by living gospel-lives; for lack of this, what dishonor have men brought to God, and what reproach upon the gospel. O! That people would come to hear the word preached, with desire to profit by it, and say, Lord, do me some good this day, give me a powerful refreshing visitation at this time; give me some living experience of your Almighty Power working upon my heart, that I may not be led by this man's word, or that man's opinion; for if they are mistaken, I shall be mistaken. But if I build my faith upon what God in his word reveals [mark! reveals by speaking to you or showing you in your heart as you wait for him] to me, I shall infallibly know what I am to believe and practice, and I shall receive from God some good thing, and I shall know what is the good and acceptable will of God. I shall find that there is power in the gospel for building me up in the most holy faith, and that it is mighty through God, for the pulling down of the strongholds of sin and Satan, and I shall see the salvation of God brought near to me.

When the gospel becomes the power of God, and works upon the hearts of men by the operation of the Divine Power, they may distinguish between that faith that is built upon the declarations of men, and what is wrought by the revelation and discovery of the mind of God in their souls; this is what we may bottom upon, and have an anchor sure and steadfast in our own souls; when I depend upon Christ, the rock of ages, both of this age, and all other ages, my faith must be placed upon him; and when I hear the word of a man, I must have an eye to God, that he will reveal his power in my heart; this will make me believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive that engrafted word which is able to save my soul. I shall not only hear the word, but live in obedience to it. What signifies it to make a profession that I have the light within, if I do not give obedience to it? For without that, it is all hypocrisy; all pretence to holiness, or righteousness, all mortification, is but hypocrisy, any further than we find the power of truth making an impression upon our hearts and minds, bringing us to the obedience of faith.

Let them therefore that profess righteousness, live righteously, and those who hear the gospel, live in obedience to it; and those who profess to be Christians, let them live like Christians indeed. When every one comes to know within himself, so far as the gospel has shined upon him, that they have received the truth in the love of it, and love the truth as it is in Jesus, and are obedient to the gospel, they shall know the salvation of it. There is a discovery of God's power in the gospel, and there is a believing of it, and trusting in it; this is what belongs to a Christian, this is the beginning and the first step to a Christian life; we must believe in Christ; for without faith it is impossible to please God. He that believes, should be careful to walk in the truth that he has received, and then he shall have a testimony of the power and virtue of it in his own soul. This virtue and power, if he joins with it, has the government of his heart and life, and gives him victory over the world, and the temptations of Satan.

You know in the primitive times there were believers that not only held the faith, but lived by faith; and by that faith they got victory over all the allurements, and pleasures and vanities of the world. I have fought a good fight, said the apostle, 2 Tim 4:7-8. I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, therefore is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. I have got the victory, and there remains an eternal weight of glory for me.

My friends, this is our ambition, and all our labor among you, that you may be built up in the most holy faith; that you may be brought home to Christ, in all your meetings and gatherings together. You should desire to be enriched with faith, and to have your own storehouse filled with all the fruits of the Spirit, and not only seek for the knowledge of the truth, but be subject and obedient to what you know, otherwise by your religion you will only hurt yourselves. And the apostle Peter, 2 Peter 2:20-21, speaks of knowing the truth, and of being established in it, and of some that after they had escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, and the latter end with them is worse than the beginning; for it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. There is a power goes along with the preaching of the gospel, that will enable you to do what you know; the gospel is a powerful doctrine, whether you know it or not, or whether you submit to it or not, yet pray remember that God's people are a willing people in the day of his power; they are a certain sort of people that are devoted to God, and submit all their worldly honors, interests, profits and pleasures, to the pleasure of God, and desire no other pleasure or happiness, but to enjoy his presence and favor; they are satisfied with this, and they are a happy people, being made a willing people in the day of God's power; they are willing to deny themselves, to take up a daily cross and follow Christ, and have salvation upon his terms.

There are a great many professors [professed believers] that have notions, and outside appearances, but they lack that virtue, and life, and power, that should settle them in religion, and a love of the truth. The Lord that knows our hearts, knows that our labor and travail among you has been designed for your good, and that our hearts desire is that you may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. We would have people consider, and attend and hear what God speaks, and remember what he has taught you by the ministers of the gospel. We have all ears to hear, let us thank God for that; blessed be God that there is a power and an ability of hearing with an outward ear; but there are many that will not so much as give the hearing to what might be spoken to them from the Lord. He that has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches; and what he says to his own soul. Hear what the Spirit says of your own state and condition; if it is good, bless God for it. Are you in so good a condition, that you have no trouble, no distress to lament, no needs to supply? Blessed are you that have none, but if you find that you have done amiss, and if the Lord should call you this night to give up your account, the Lord has a great deal against you, I am sure; and I tell you it is your duty to turn to the Lord with unfeigned repentance, that through Christ Jesus, you may receive pardon and remission of all your sins, and hear what the Spirit says to yourselves, and in yourselves.

Pray come and make it your work and business the rest of the time you have to live, to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, that when Christ comes, you may say, come Lord Jesus, come quickly, purify me and sanctify me, and prepare me to be presented to the Father without spot and blame; the day is coming that this will be the desire of every one of you.

[The Day of the Lord comes when one enters the kingdom. To those who never enter the kingdom, the day comes when they die. So everyone sees Jesus come to judge them.]

And it is the earnest breathing and desire of my soul, that every one of you may have an eye unto the Lord, and he will look down from Heaven, and have regard to the cry and the sighing of the needy soul. God will arise, and find out the people that breathe after him, and that desire to be reconciled to him, through the Mediator Jesus Christ; the Lord loves to find out such a people, and I am glad to preach to such a people the glad tidings of the gospel, and to teach as God has taught me; good and upright is the Lord, therefore will he teach and guide you in the way which you should go. Walk humbly with God; he will resist the proud, but he will give grace unto the humble. Walk uprightly before the Lord in this gospel-day that shines upon you; love the appearance of God, and prize it; though it has not been so glorious to you, as to some others, yet despise not the day of small things. Live in subjection to that grace that the Lord has given you, and the Lord will give you more grace, and pour out his Spirit, and multiply his blessings upon you , the Lord has begun a good work in you, and he will carry it on to the day of Christ, and will promise to bring the glorious day of his visitation upon you.

To the Lord I leave you, to his favor and protection I commit you; remember that there is no salvation but by Jesus Christ, and none to be had by Christ, until you come to believe in him. To him who searches the heart, and tries the reins, that pardons iniquity, transgression and sin, for the sake of Christ Jesus, the Mediator, to him I do commit you, not doubting but that he that has begun a good work in you, will at last complete and finish it to his own praise and your salvation.

Sermon XVII

THE EXCELLENCE OF PEACE WITH GOD

Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Devonshire House, on the 5th day of the 8th month, 1691

My Friends,

It is man's great happiness in this world to have acquaintance with God, with the Lord that made him, from whom he has life and breath here, and his eternal welfare hereafter. This doubtless every one will acknowledge one time or another, that peace with God is a great jewel, and the best estate and riches. It is the great desire of everyone, that they may attain to this one time or other; and there is a great neglect of happiness among the sons and daughters of men, in not seeking it, in not laboring to attain it while it is to be had. Oh! How many trifle away their time about fading and perishing objects, and know at the same instant that they are yet destitute of the favor of God, and peace with Him. Oh, friends! The very thoughts and consideration of the worth of this jewel, and all the misery of being without it, and the uncertainty of our time while it is to be attained, might put everyone upon a serious, diligent inquiry, after the way and means by which they might attain it, so that they might have a resting place for their souls, and satisfaction to their inward man; that it shall go well with them, when time shall be no more.

And those who come to this consideration, and are resolved in their hearts and minds, that they will labor after this, and set their whole endeavor after it, they will in the first place seek The Kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof. These do need a daily encouragement in their way to heaven, and there is nothing on the Lord's part lacking for all such souls, but that they may attain their desire.

But, alas! This has been, and is still, the misery of thousands. They are seeking after peace with God, but they err in the way to it, they do not seek in that way, nor take hold of those methods, by and through which God has promised peace. You shall scarcely find anybody, who would not like to have eternal life, and peace with God; we shall not need to persuade people to wish for, and to desire to have peace with God, when they shall come to die, and lay down their heads in the dust. There is not a Balaam, but he desires to die the death of the righteous, and that his last end not be like his. There is not a Scribe, or a Pharisee, or any that profess religion, but those who are seeking eternal life. The Lord Jesus did witness concerning them, that they were an envious, proud, persecuting people, yet that they did seek after eternal life, and they fixed upon some methods and ways whereby they thought to get and enjoy it, and so are a great many people at this every day. They are in a state and condition in which they are not likely to enjoy it; the methods and ways that they have chosen to themselves, by which to find eternal life, and to obtain peace with God, will never answer the end.

And God has been pleased to discover in us the many byways that people have chosen, and by which they seek peace with god, therefore we are willing at all times to show people their error, in these greatest matters, a highest concern to them. If they did err in their way of seeking to obtain some earthly good, and missed their end, they know the price of it, it is a loss of so much, which, if they had taken a right course, they might have attained; but it is an unspeakable loss, an inestimable loss, if they lose peace with God, and all the pains and labor they seek to obtain it.

I beseech you, friends, consider these things; they are of great weight, and your will say so one day or another. For, said our savior, what will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Oh, how sad is it to consider, that a man has not made provision for his soul; that he has not a place of rest for his immortal soul, when his body can retain it no longer! If this be a man's state when he comes to die, it had been better for him who he had never been born. Men may live and gather riches, and enjoy a plentiful estate; but if they are destitute of the favor of God, lack peace with Him, what will they do with their perishing enjoyments? They cannot really satisfy themselves with these transitory, visible things; but if these persons mind only their bodies, and neglect their souls, do they not live like the beasts that perish? The beast seeks after his meat, and when he finds it, he eats it with delight and pleasure, and in a little while he lies down and dies; and so it is with careless souls, they have no regard for their future state; but say, Let us east and drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die.

Oh that every one of us here did apply our hearts seriously, to the consideration of the weight of these things which concern our eternal state. If persons did this, then they might come to an inquiry into their own souls, what method and way is most safe for the attaining of so blessed an end. For you know there are abundance of people, — if you look up and down in the world, you will see almost everybody hunting up and down, in some way of religion or other, and engaged in religious performances. What is the matter? What would you have? We would have peace with God here, and everlasting rest in the kingdom of heaven in this life and the next. Thus have the nations been scattered and driven up and down in the pursuit of happiness and satisfaction.

There is a general belief among people, that there is a heaven, and a hell; and that they must have their part in one of them. There are none that desire a portion in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. These profane wretches that cry to God to damn them, they do not mean what they speak, they would be saved for all that; every one will cry at last, "Lord, have mercy upon me!" if he only has time to say so. Let us cry now: "Lord, have mercy upon me! Lord, bestow your favor upon me! Lord, lift up the light of your countenance upon me! Lord, touch my hard heart and soften it, and break it by the power of your Spirit; open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things of your law; open my ears, that I may hear your voice!" It is good for people to make use of time while they have it. Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, and God will pour out his wrath upon those who do not call upon his name. He that calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved; and God gives great encouragement to people to seek after him.

What do you mean by seeking after God? I have gone to church, and said my prayers; I have gone in that way in which my fathers have led me, and directed me; I hope I shall find mercy at last. I am a believer; I believe in Jesus Christ that died for my sins; and rose again for my justification; I hope, through the merits of Jesus Christ, I shall be saved. What do you mean by seeking after the Lord? Do not we all hear of Him, and pray to him every day?

Is there anything more common than this, that people speak to one another generally about. As for the general knowledge of God, you and I may see to our sorrow, that a great many cry, Lord! Lord! that are never likely to enter into the kingdom of God. If all that take the name of God in their mouths, should enter into the kingdom of heaven, it would be a very foul kingdom. If all the drunkards and fornicators of England, and all the profane and ungodly person, that will take the name of God in their mouths, should enter into the kingdom of heaven, it would be a very unclean and impure kingdom. There is nothing enters therein that is unclean, that is abominable, that loves to make a lie. So that there must be some more peculiar people that shall have an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God; and there must be something that will entitle them to it. For you may remember our savior said, No man knows the Father but the Son, and him to whom the Son shall reveal Him. So much as may be known of God by works, you and I may know, without the revelation of Christ; we need not wait for this knowledge; we can have it by books, we can have it without Christ's revelation. Nothing would serve some in our savior's time but eternal life; and our Lord Jesus tells them You search the scriptures, for in them, said he, you think to have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me. Yet, for all the profession they made, He tells them: No man has seen God at any time, neither seen his shape nor heard his voice. They were strangers to God, though they had a general knowledge of God.

So it is at this day; there is a general knowledge of God, and people hope to attain peace with God, and eternal life. Their parents and their tutors have instructed them in the principles of Christianity, and about the attributes of God; but all this will not bring them to a saving knowledge of God, and reconciliation with Him. For a man who is as wicked as the devil can make him, knows these things, and yet may be a servant of the devil, and do his work. He is not born again to become a child, with all his external knowledge. No he who desires to come to the true saving knowledge of God, our savior has told us, That none know the Father but the Son, and him to whom the Son will reveal Him. This is the sure way to come to the true knowledge of God the Father. Christ has the key of David, which opens and no man can shut; and shuts and no man can open. He can bring us to behold the glory of God in his own face. Without Him we are never likely to come to the saving knowledge of God.

Poor man is in a lapsed, fallen state! He is fallen into sin, and is in a state of alienation from God; and therefore he cannot come to Him but by a mediator: There is one mediator between God and man, the Man, Christ Jesus; and He must make peace for him, else he will never have it. How then shall we come to Christ, if He is the only means, and there is no other, by which we may come to the knowledge of God, as the Scripture speaks? Hearken to it, how may we come to Christ? I answer, you will never come to Him, if he does not first come to you; you will never be able to do it. It is not coming to Christ, when you say, you believe that Christ died and rose again, and ascended up into heaven and that He sits at the right hand of God, and lives forever to make intercession for his people; and when you read those words and doctrines which He preached up and down, at meetings and solemn assemblies. But if you believe that He is the eternal Son of God, and the author of eternal salvation to all that obey Him, you must come to Him, and entirely give up yourselves to his glory and service. Without this, you cannot come to Him, nor will He bring you to the Father. Christ is come near to us; He stands at the door of our hearts, and He stands and knocks. Behold! that is the word that calls for attention, for people to take notice of, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. What do you knock for? Said Christ, That you may open the door of your heart; for if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me, and this grace that brings salvation has appeared to all men. This manifestation of the Spirit and light within, we have from Christ. These are the ways and methods which the Lord Christ has taken to approach near to us. Now your own reason will tell you, if this is the way and means that Christ takes to approach near to us, we cannot take another way to approach to Him. If Christ has taken I say, this way to approach us, by the light and manifestation of his own Spirit, which convinces us of sin; if this is Christ's way of coming to us, there can be not other way of our coming to Him, but by the same method of his grace.

He said: If you have the light, believe in the Light. I have the light; I am enlightened; there is something that discovers your evil thoughts. Why must I believe in the light? That you may be the children of light as our savior speaks. They that are the children of the light shall have it for their inheritance; and those who are children of darkness, must have darkness for their inheritance. While we have the light, we must believe in it, and we shall be made children of the light. God has sent his Son, and the Son has sent his Spirit and his heavenly grace into our hearts, that we may draw near to Him, and be directed how to attain acquaintance with Him, and to do what pleases God, and come to be in union with Him, and do the works of God. This is what God requires of us, that we believe on Him whom He has sent; that we may embrace the light, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pray what do you mean by believing? There is something within me checks and reproves me for sin, and calls me off from it, and tells me to turn over a new leaf. Must I hearken to this? Is this what you mean by believing? As to this degree of believing, those who neglect it now, shall believe it hereafter; for all the world at last, and the damned in hell, shall certainly confess, that there was grace, and light, and means afforded to them, and they might have gone further, and escaped that misery which they are fallen into.

But there is a more precious faith that I would have you partake of, a faith that works by Love. Since the Lord has been so gracious as to extend his mercy and love to me, I am so captivated with the love of God, that I will be obedient to Him. This faith that works by love, is the faith of God's elect; that by which we may obtain victory over our passions and lusts, and over Satan and the snares of the world. When we are come close with the grace of God, and to believe in Christ, this is well; but we must also yield obedience and subjection. Yet when faith has brought forth obedience, you cannot be justified by it, you cannot be saved by your obedience, without Christ: He is the Author and Finisher of our faith, and a mediator from first to last.

Now all who come close with the appearance of Christ in their own hearts, they have laid hold of the method appointed for their coming to him. It is Christ they must hear. He come so near to men that they may hear his voice, and hear Him tell us our very thoughts. Why should I not hear Him when he checks me and reproves me for sin? He comes near, and tells me that I have done amiss. Lord, I have done iniquity, I will do so no more. Thus Christ converses with his people, and does not only check and reprove them, when they do what is evil; but persuades them and enables them to do good. He is a mediator, He is a middle person, and has taken flesh upon Him, that He might reconcile them to God, who believe in Him.

Now, when we come to have acquaintance with God, and have chosen Him to be our God, he teaches us what is good, and reproves us for what evil we have done. Who can choose a better guide, to lead him into acquaintance with God, than Christ that is conversant with us, piercing into our thoughts, and speaking to us? I may hear Him with the inward ear of my heart. When I do evil, He checks me for it, and tells me the thing I should seek is of inestimable value; and if, through my unbelief and carelessness, I miss of it, it had been better for me that I had never been born. Now we are in the way of coming to receive the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls, let us not neglect so great salvation. No man can save himself, nor save the soul of his brother, nor find a ransom, nor procure an offering for the expiating of his sin; therefore let every one that would have his sin expiated and pardoned, and cannot be satisfied and quieted till he has peace with God, let him come to Christ the mediator, and come with faith and truth in the inward parts, and submit to Him, and be willing to be ruled by Him; then Christ will save him, and present him without spot or blemish to his Father.

Consider that those who are the people of God, are led by the Spirit of God; and those who have missed their way to reconciliation with God, that love any other way, or think to come to God any other way than by Jesus, the mediator: their labor will be lost. Therefore I must exhort and persuade you who are out of the way, that you would take God's method, and come into God's way. The terms, I have told you, are made already; the bargain is not to make now,--I will give you so much to be at peace with God, or I will part with this or the other thing that is dear to me. No, the agreement is made between God and Christ, and his Covenant is ordered in all things, and sure; and his covenant stands sure with none, but those who are in Christ Jesus. There was a covenant made with Abraham: In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. The promise is made to the seed, that is, to those who are in Christ; the faithful are counted the seed. Now the faithful are those who are obedient to Christ, who is the seed of promise, in whom all the families of the earth are blessed. They must come to Christ the seed; they must not rebel against Him; they must come to Him, and believe in Him. Be there never so many nations and families in the world, the promise is not to them, but to as many as the Lord our God shall call.

Here is the way for people to lay hold of, for coming into acquaintance with God, which is of so great necessity before they die; they must come to Christ himself, by his Spirit in their own hearts. We need not go to this and the other learned man, and inquire of this and the other sort of people; but we must cry to God for help and direction, and come unto Him, and give up all the powers and faculties of our souls to Him, to be governed by Him. God will have servants that will be obedient to Him. If ever we come to obtain salvation, we must have another master: One is your master, even Christ. I must come under the government of Christ, and He must lead me, and rule me, if I will be a child of God.

When people come to see there is not an effectual way, except submitting to the grace of God* in their own hearts, and yielding themselves up to the dictates of the Spirit of Christ in their souls; when they come to this, there are many hazards and difficulties to be encountered. There is the appearance of the cross of Christ, and we must take up this cross if we will follow Christ, and be obedient in all things unto Him. This is what will kill all my pleasures, lay waste all my religion, and destroy all my hopes, I must be like a man that has built a house without a good foundation; I must pull it all down again, and I must come to build up again upon a new foundation.

[Submitting to the grace of God is to obey what the grace of God teaches you deny: for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and how to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Tit 2:11-12]

Here many have turned aside; the cross of Christ has seemed to them so sharp, and hard, and intolerable, that they could not bear it; they would not be at the charge of such a religion. What! Must I part with all my delights, and my beloved lusts and pleasures, and all my interests in the world, for Christ? I cannot part with these; these things lie in my way, I must rather lose my soul than part with what is so pleasing to me, and join with the light of my own conscience, and the truth in my inward parts? What! Must I not have so much as liberty of thought? What! Must my thoughts be regulated by what is so cross and repugnant to my mind? Must I throw out all evil thoughts out of my heart, and allow none but the good thoughts to remain there? Who can stand here? Who can bear such strictness as this? Rather than endure this, I will choose to lose my soul. Many have lost the truth on this account; and many are in danger to lose their souls.

If there is in you any desire of peace with God, so that you may not go from here before you have attained it, take hold of the present opportunity. Hardness of heart is a desperate plague; it comes from a long obstinate continuance in sin. When we have withstood the day of God's patience and long-suffering, and grieved the Holy Spirit of God; then God gives us up to our own hearts' lusts, because we choose to follow the voice of the charmer, however wise he appears. When we stop our ears, and will not attend to the calls of God; when men will go on, and nothing can stop them, in the career of their lusts and pleasures, but they will retain their carnal delight and friendship with the world, this hardness of heart becomes a desperate plague. Take heed of it, that it does not overtake you, and bring ruin and destruction upon you. Consider the patience and long-suffering of God, and let his goodness lead you to repentance. Consider, God has waited to be gracious to you, he has exercised much long-suffering and patience towards you; whereas He might have cut you off long ago, and given you your portion with the damned in hell: but He has hearkened to the voice of the mediator who has pleaded for you; He has extended his patience and long-suffering to the wicked and rebellious also; and for this reason, the apostle tells us, Christ is the savior of all men, especially of them that believe.

Now the patience and long suffering of God has been lengthened out to all, and we have not improved it. Conscience has been sensible of the inward strokes and rebukes of God for sin, and of the inward calls of his grace to bring us to repentance; but we have not regarded these calls, nor hearkened to the voice of God, so as to hear, that our souls might live. Oh let us not put off our repentance any longer! But today, while it is called today, let us hear his voice, and harden not our hearts; but be of tender heart; let our hearts be softened and tendered under the word of God, and under the strokes of his judgment. If ever the Lord brings you under a tender frame, you will receive the word of God with meekness, and mix it with faith. Then it will work effectually to the amendment of your lives; it will work faith in those who are unbelievers, and strengthen the faith of those who believe. Then we shall have come to bless the Lord, and praise and magnify his great name, for his patience, long-suffering, and mercy, which at this day he has lengthened out, and graciously extended to us.

<Sermons Continued>

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