The Missing Cross to Purity


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SERMON XVIII

True Christianity

Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Grace-Church-Street, April 10,1692

THE institution of the Christian religion was for this purpose: that holiness and righteousness might be brought forth in the earth; that God, through his Son Jesus Christ, might take delight in the sons and daughters of men, that they might be reconciled to him; for that which the law could not do, by reason of weakness, God has had a purpose to do by his Son, and to him he gave all power in Heaven and Earth, that thereby he might be enabled to perform the great work of God, in establishing righteousness, and in bringing forth a holy people, to serve a holy God. This is the great blessing that is come to us, and to all mankind, through our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that came to turn every one from the evil of their ways. That is the way and method by which our Lord Jesus accomplished the end of his coming, and the will of his Heavenly Father. Moses and all his washings, offerings, and sacrifices, could not make clean and purge the conscience; and by all his offerings and sacrifices, he could not reconcile us to God. But Jesus, by his once offering himself, did forever perfect those who are sanctified; and by one offering, reconciled us to the Father, and so brings forth a holy generation unto God, through regeneration and the sanctification of the Spirit.

And seeing the Lord has been pleaded in the riches of his grace to open this new and living way, for man's returning again into unity and fellowship with his Maker, the question, my friends, that I would put to you on the behalf of God is for all of you to consider, whether it is not best for every one of us to lay hold of salvation, to lay hold of that blessing wherewith the Lord has blessed us, that so the principal institution of Christianity might not only be named and spoken of, but might come to be enjoyed and witnessed in every one of our own souls; and that all might wait with expectation on the Lord Jesus Christ, for fulfilling of this great work in themselves.

There is a general notion among people, that Heaven is a holy place, and that nothing that is unclean can enter into it, to have a habitation there, when time in this world shall be no more with us. The time that we have been given us is I am sure is given us by God as an opportunity of fitting and preparing us for his dwelling-place;* and every day and hour of it ought to be employed in that great work, so that we might draw nearer and nearer to that state and condition that suits and befits that holy dwelling where saints and angels, for evermore, praise the great and glorious God. So that I am persuaded you believe, that you and all of us, are to be accountable to God for all the time he has bestowed upon us, whether we use it to the purposes for which he has given it, or whether we spend our time upon those things that are not profitable to us; and upon these considerations, we had need all of us to take heed to our present state that we are come to, and are arrived at in the present time; as for the future time, that we all know we are not sure of; and the future fate that we may hope to come to, there is no certainty of it, unless there is an improvement of the present time, and the opportunities of our present state. Therefore every one should apply their hearts unto the seeking of wisdom and understanding, and unto God, that he may give us to understand our state, and our present fitness or unfitness for the kingdom of glory and happiness, and of that holy dwelling we hope to enjoy forever.

[Seeking God is the single purpose of life:
He [God] has made from one blood every nation of men
to dwell on all the face of the earth,
and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,
so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him,
though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being; Acts 17:26-28
one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in you all. Eph 4:6]

If I will but turn my mind inward, to the serious consideration of my present state and condition, I can tell whether I am fit or unfit to approach God's presence; and if I find I am unfit, I must have recourse to the divine working of that great power, which God has ordained and appointed for this purpose; I must come to him to work all my works in me, and for me, according to his good pleasure; and that he will never do, unless it is by crossing me in my carnal pleasures and corrupt inclinations; for that which pleases man, does not please God. And God will not revoke the holy scriptures, that tell us, that those who live in pleasure, are dead while they live; those who are indulgent to their own affections, and their own delights, and their own humors, they are not at all ready to please and glorify God; they are not fitted for it, therefore he never sanctifies, nor brings any into a true Christian state, but through a daily cross, so that if I am not already fitted and prepared to do what is pleasing to God, I may be fitted by taking up a daily cross, to glorify God here and enjoy him forever.

What those things are that you are to do, I need not tell you, or what you have done. I judge no man. There is one that judges, he will tell you if you ask him, what your state and condition is; he will tell the drunkard, if he asks him, whether he is fit for Heaven; and also the proud and haughty persons whether they are fit for Heaven. Let such as are guilty of these or any other sins, inquire of the oracle in their own bosoms, “am I not fit for Heaven, despite all this?” He will tell you no, there is no unclean thing shall enter there; nothing that defiles, nothing that hurts or oppresses; the proud, peevish, malicious person, that is hurtful to others, that hurts his neighbor, is shut out. There shall be no entrance into Heaven by anything that defiles. Rev. 21:27. For without are dogs, and sorcerers,* and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and makes a lie. Rev 22:15. None shall enter into the holy city of God, but those who are purified and purged from all iniquity. Therefore God has sent his son Jesus, seeing none else could do it. Moses and the Prophets could not do it, therefore he sent Jesus to bless us, in turning every one of us from our iniquities, and from our evil ways. One man has this evil way, another that evil way. It is all one to him; his work is to turn every one of us from our evil ways.

[*dogs and sorcerers are the ministers of Christendom. As dogs, they lick the sores of their congregation; they feed on the sins of the people in their congregations, telling them they are righteous, receiving their continual gratitude for giving them assurances of the favor of God and heaven to come; they are forgers of lies and physicians of no value. As sorcerers, they practice witchcraft with rituals and ceremonies that supposedly make a man acceptable to God, while that man remains a slave to sin, thus serving Satan, not God.]

But why then, (you may say), are so few turned from their evil ways throughout Christendom, where Christ is believed in, professed, read and heard; that yet so few are converted and turned? For we see great numbers of liars, swearers, drunkards, and unclean persons among us, where Christ is cried up at a mighty rate, and yet people are not turned from the evil of their ways; surely there is something that is the reason.

I would have all of you consider what the reason of it is, that those who profess to be Christians, are not turned from the evil of their ways; for Christ has all power in Heaven and Earth committed to him and he is able to do it, and he was sent from God on purpose to do it; but this is a certain truth, it is not done; and what is the reason of it? He came to his own, and his own received him not; what is the reason? He has caused his grace to appear to every man in the world, and yet they are not taught by it. Here is an object of faith for all, and God has offered faith to all men, since he raised up Jesus from the dead, yet men have it not. What is the reason that this nation, as well as other nations, have been puzzled about it, to find out things that are so plain in scripture, in relation to the love of God to mankind, and in relation to Christ Jesus the Savior, and so little of this work is wrought among us?

Some say there is never a man in the world turned from the evil of their ways; they live in sin, and they are under a fixed necessity of continuing in it, and lying under it all the days of their lives, despite all this belief of the love of God, and the power of Christ, and the profession of it. Some say there is never a Christian in the world who can live one day without sin, but will defile himself with one thing or another; that the devil will prevail over men, and sin mix itself with our prayers and alms, and all our holy duties, so that there is nothing clean; nothing pure that we can perform to God. There are others that are not so rash in their judgment, and not so inconsiderate, but they will believe some men and women may cone to a power and ability to withstand Satan, and resist him in his temptations; and that there are those who have been turned from the evil of their ways, but they are not; what is the matter? You have spent time about this, what is the reason you are not turned from the evil of your ways? The devil has told the people in former days that the reason why men live in sin, is, because God has appointed it so to be. And that has stopped the mouth of many a plain-hearted tender Christian; they have cried unto God under the weight of their sin, and they see no deliverance after all their prayers and tears, because they have been told they cannot do it, and that God has appointed it should be so, and required them to do what they cannot do; and with some the habit of sin has taken away the guilt of sin, and they go to perdition in their security.

I hope, my friends, that God has opened your eyes, and that you have better thoughts of God, than that he has required you a work and a labor to do, and by his eternal power and decree, has ordained that you should never do it, but damn you after all. Consider, there are men and women in bondage and captivity, and God has sent his Son into the world to redeem them from all iniquity, and turn them from their evil ways; we are not turned, what is the reason of it? I beseech you in the love of God, be serious in this matter; serious you must be, one time or other; when you come to the tribunal of God, there must be a reason given, or if not, you must be speechless; therefore find it out here. What is the reason that I am not turned from my evil ways, since God has sent his Son Jesus to do it, and given him power to do it; why then is it not done?

Some persons upon inquiry, and after their search, have brought forth this reason. They have alleged the great power the devil has. The devil is so strong, and has such a power to darken their minds, and enchant their affections; he injects and brings things into their minds before they are aware of it. I confess this, and I will say a little to it. I will confess as much as the argument will bear, that the devil has great power, and a way of injecting things into the spirits and affections of people. He is God's enemy and ours too, and he lies in wait, and will do as much as he can against us, that no one shall get to Heaven; if we come there, it shall be against his will. I have heard some magnify the devil's power to such a degree, that he has such power over a man or woman, that he is able to keep them in sin all their life, though God has put forth the exceeding greatness of his power for their redemption. This is hard to believe, that the devil is stronger than Christ Jesus. Well, as great as his power is, we are in a capacity of knowing a greater power; the apostle did comfort the Christians, notwithstanding all the power the devil used with them to defile them, and keep them from inheriting the kingdom of God, 1 John 4:4. You are of God, little children, and have overcome, because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. I would have you believe this; I do believe it heartily, the devil only rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience; and he who has the Holy Ghost in him, has one greater than he that is in the world. If you believe this, then the question is thus far answered, that we have a Savior, a Deliverer, that is more able to redeem us, than the devil is to keep us in bondage. I hope we are reassured, now we know we have a keeper. We are assaulted with the devil's temptations, and they are powerful; how powerful? He has so much power, as he finds in us an inclination to yield and join with his temptations. If he comes with a temptation to a man or woman that has no inclination to that thing he tempts them; if they hate that thing, then there is an end of it. The devil's power lies in this, when he brings a temptation that I have an inclination to, then he has a party within me; if that is rooted out, what signifies his power, let him bring ever so many temptations?

There are many of you that understand what I say; if a temptation comes to a man to commit an act of uncleanness, if he is chaste man, there is no inclination in him to yield to it, or join to it; he hates it, it is an abomination in itself, and grievous and provoking to God if he does it; a man abhors it, then what powerful temptation is it? If it light upon a man of an unclean mind, that is defiled in his heart, he has not only the devil, but his own lust and corrupt inclination to contend with; but if a man believes in Christ, he relies upon him, and he will say, Lord, you see I am under temptation; here is a great and powerful temptation, I can never withstand it, but I trust in your name and power. Please arise and deliver me from it. Thus when God does arise, his enemies will be scattered; though the devil's power is great, yet there is a deliverer that is stronger than he. The reason of men’s being overcome, does not lie in the greatness of the devil's power, but in the frailty of our nature.

Some will say, that our natures are so frail, weak and depraved, that we can do nothing as we ought to do. This is given for another reason, and there is truth in it, but that truth is but a delusion; they would excuse themselves when they have yielded to a temptation, I am weak and frail, I cannot resist the devil; though the devil is not stronger than Christ, yet he is stronger than I; he works with all his might, power, and subtlety to deceive me, and ensnare me, and overcome me; I am a poor, frail creature, therefore I must yield to him. This is a carnal reason; as though I were to grapple with the devil in my own strength, and to deliver my soul, as if God has left me to myself. If you say, “Lord, you have set me to grapple with the devil, and to withstand his temptations. Lord I am not able to do it myself.” God will answer you, "I have laid help upon one that is mighty, that is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto me by him;" so that you are not to overcome the devil, by your own power and ability. If any man reason thus, his reason is out of reality; for we are saved by Christ, therefore I cannot plead my own frailty, seeing God has provided a rock for my defense that is stronger and higher than I, that I may trust and rely upon.

So that you see the frailties of our nature is not a sufficient reason, we must seek further for it yet; and when we come to search narrowly, and to the bottom of our hearts, I will tell you here it rests, it has its center in the perverseness of the will that is in man, that is contrary to the will of God; it is the opposition of our will to the will of God. We may talk what we will of salvation and Christianity, that we have a mind to be saved, and go unto God when we die, and to enjoy the happiness of Heaven to eternity. We may talk thus; but as long as the perverseness of the will continues, I am the cause of my own ruin. If I grow in a profession, this perverse will, will grow up with me under that profession, and under any profession. Change your judgment and opinion as often as you wish, this will go along with you, the reason and the bottom of things will come to this, none can overcome the devil, nor be a disciple of Christ, without a daily cross. When people come to this, to see a necessity of taking up the cross of Christ, and denying themselves; when it comes to this, there are such shifts and evasions, and arts that men have to cover themselves, to make themselves and others believe, that such and such a thing is consistent with the will of God, and that they may do it, and save their own souls; but they boast of their own deceit, and are glad that they can make a pretense to deceive their own souls; so that there is no hopes of their ever being purged and cleansed, and of having any holy work brought forth by them; but when a man comes to be sensible of his spiritual condition, and is sincere and honest, he will be ready to say unto God, “if I am deceived in anything, open my eyes, Lord; if I indulge myself in anything that is contrary to your holy will, Lord, I beseech you to show it to me.” Such a man will lay aside his own will, if it is contrary to God's will. Now here is one that is a very fit object for Christ to work upon; he will not be long before he is convinced of deliverance to come. When a man comes to the word, he is convinced of such an evil in his conscience, where nobody but God and himself were privy to it, or had any knowledge of it. It is discovered that he lives in such a practice that is contrary to the mind of God. God has convinced you, that you love it, and live in it, and if you will but break off that evil practice, that he has sent his Son Jesus Christ to turn you from every evil way, and to redeem you from all iniquity.

This truth has a savor in it; and if you are sincere and upright, there is nothing for you to say or do, but to set yourself against everything that is contrary to the mind of God, and you will have light from Heaven sent to guide you and direct you in your way there; if you will only receive that grace that is freely given of God unto you through Jesus Christ, he will certainly purge you and cleanse you from your sin, and turn you from every evil way, notwithstanding the perverseness of your own will and the power of Satan; and he will work in your heart by his grace, until it has brought you off from your iniquity, and wrought iniquity out of you, and so bring forth a holy work to God.

Without faith it is impossible to please God. We cannot please God without faith, nor with it either, unless the faith is authored by God and given to us as the gift of God. There is a great deal of faith [so-called], in this nation, and in this city; but do you believe all their ways are pleasing to God?' We must distinguish between different kinds of faith here; when the apostle would give a description of saving faith, he tells you, that it is the operation of God; if I do not have that operation, and a regard to it, how can I have it be working? But since it is the dispensation of the gospel of Christ, and design of Christ, to turn people to the operation of God in their own hearts, we would have them believe it.

If there is a drunkard or a profane person, if God works faith in that person’s heart, he will be convinced and say, "what a stroke has the Lord given upon my conscience;" and he will see it is the Lord's work. Then believe, whoever you are, and lay hold of this, for this is the operation of God upon a believing soul, the stroke of God's hand and the power of God; and then you have the work of faith, by which faith you are enabled to keep yourself from that thing that God smote you for, and before he gives you over, the same hour you will find the same hand smiting you for another sin; this will be like fire in your bones, kindling up your zeal and hatred against your sin, and will kindle in you a high fire of love to God, that has not let you be in your misery, but minded your condition, and had compassion on you. This love God will shed abroad, which will run over your heart, he has shed abroad his love, said the apostle, Rom 5:5, upon our hearts by the Holy Ghost to constrain us to yield obedience; when you fall into the way of faith, which is, the operation of God, the devil comes and knocks and bounces on this side and that, but God will not fail to give you power to withstand temptation.

The Lord Jesus Christ works in people's hearts, to turn them from the evil of their ways, that so he may bring forth holiness and righteousness, and redeem a people from under the bondage of sin, and fit them for the kingdom of his Father, and to use the apostle's words, present them before the throne of God, without spot and blameless; he will purify them, and sprinkle them from an evil conscience, their bodies being washed with pure water, he will sanctify the creature; his word is near them, and in their hearts, he begins a work in many, and will carry it on in one, and in another.

Here lies the chief work; it is the good hand of God that must work all our works in us, and for us, according to the good pleasure of his will. He must work in you a willingness to bear the cross of Christ, and to deny yourselves; he will operate for you for this purpose, therefore you must commit yourselves to him.

It is not our preaching which will convert men to God, but it is the work of God that is pure, which converts the soul to God, and that cleanses, fits, and prepares it for the kingdom of Heaven, Psalm 19:7. We must come to the word of God [in our hearts], that will convince us, reprove us, strengthen, encourage and illuminate us, and do in us and for us all that we stand in need of: To him be all the praise that works all in you, and prepares you to be a peculiar people to himself. The word of his grace I commit to you all, take heed of doing anything contrary to it; if you do, what would be your comfort, will be your condemnation.

His Prayer after Sermon

BLESSED God and Father of Life! You are glorious in holiness, infinite in power, the eternal God; your dominion is an everlasting dominion, your kingdom is without end.

O Lord! We bless and praise your glorious name, that you have made known yourself among the sons and daughters of men; you have revealed to us in your word the manner of your kingdom among us, in setting up righteousness and truth, and throwing down iniquity.

Powerful God of Life! Subject the minds and hearts of all your people to your divine power and pleasure, and let the dread of yourself rest upon our spirits, that every one of us may fear to sin against you, and to do despite to your Spirit, the Spirit of your grace, that we may every one of us turn from our iniquities, the evil of our hearts and ways, that we may praise you in the land of the living, and may become faithful witnesses of that salvation which you have wrought for us, and for all those who believe,

Powerful God of Life! The souls of your people which you have gathered out of the world, do praise and magnify your name for what they have seen, and for what you have wrought; you have wonderfully appeared in your love, and brought salvation near, and gathered many into it, it is become a wall and a bulwark to them, that they are defended from the evil one, and from the evils of the world.

O Dearest God of Life! Raise up poor and needy souls out of the dust, that they may serve you, and obey you, and do your will, and show forth your power and strength in their weakness and infirmity, that they may trust in you, and rely upon you in the time of their distress.

Blessed Father of Life and Power! Give grace to the humble and meek, and teach them in your way. We have had experience, O Lord! of your fulfilling your promises; you are still fulfilling of them to all that truly wait upon you; you have begun a good work; carry it on to the praise and exaltation of your great name,

Blessed Father! Reveal your power more and more in the nations round about, that those who long after the life of the Living God, may come and find you, and behold your divine appearance through the Son of your Love, in their own spirits; that so they may receive your word, and your word may quicken them; that they may stand up from the dead, and live; for it is the living, the living, Lord! that praise you, that honor your name, that offer praise, and glorify you,

O Blessed Father of Life! Carry on your great work with power throughout all the earth; gather a remnant of your seed that are scattered, and bring them home into the kingdom of your dear Son, that we may praise you together, and rejoice in your name.

Dear Father! You have saved this nation, the land of our nativity, to this day, by a wonderful power, by your powerful arm; our souls are deeply sensible of the stretching forth of your Almighty Hand in our preservation at this day; so Living Father! If it is your heavenly pleasure, lengthen forth our tranquility; and the enjoyments of your mercy and goodness to the inhabitants thereof, that they may learn to fear you, and turn to you with their whole hearts, and break off, by true repentance, from all those sins that grieve your Holy Spirit; that so, Living Father of Life! they may come to walk in love and in union with your heavenly power, and have concord one with another and show forth the power of your grace manifested to them, and magnify your love and power, and give you honor and renown for that great salvation that you have wrought for them; that so your great name may be exalted, and your will may be done on earth as it is in Heaven; that the souls of your people may be refreshed with your love, and the joys of your presence, and the revelation of your heavenly power. For this, we offer up to you living praises, and Christian thanksgivings, in and through the Lord Jesus Christ; for you are worthy of all praise, and glory, and dominion, forever and ever. Amen.

SERMON XIX

The Mighty Work of Man's Redemption

Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Grace-Church-Street, Feb., 8, 1687

My Friends,

WE are met upon the most weighty affair that can be to every one of us, even to wait that we may have a true knowledge of the beginning, carrying on and perfecting the mighty work of redemption, that people may know that redemption is wrought in their souls; for everyone's soul has been lost and captivated, and led away from the pure presence of God; all have been alienated by reason of sin, which has been an universal wall of partition and has excluded out unholy souls from the Holy God. All that have been defiled and polluted, they have been excluded from his dwelling place, they have been driven out into the world, and the world has become a world of misery, and of distraction and confusion to the sons and daughters of men. There has been anguish, tribulation and wrath upon all their souls, and an insensibility has happened unto many, that they have not been apprehensive of the great depravation they have lain under, and they have not been sensible of the glory of that state and condition which they were to have enjoyed; and in that state of insensibility they have not sought after the Lord, but have been captivated and led away by many lusts and pleasures, by which they have wounded their own souls more and more.

And in such a state as this it is, that the Lord has found us; he has sought us out, and he has found us cast out into the open field, and wallowing, as it were, in our own blood. Yet this has been a time of love; and he has manifested his love to us in this respect, in that he has awakened us and brought us to a sense of our depraved and deplorable condition, and given unto a remnant to perceive, that there is a more excellent glory, a more excellent enjoyment to be had, than any this world can afford. But a great many of those whose eyes are so far opened, that they can see and discern a more excellent glory, yet they cannot receive it, for they are not in a capacity for the enjoyment of it. Many have the glimmerings, and some little sight of heavenly things, but they themselves are earthly. Many perceive there is a holy life, but it is not theirs for their own life is unholy; and yet they know there is a life that is holy and pure. Through this desires are instilled, by the word of life in the sons and daughters of men, through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Mediator; by him desires are instilled in people that they might come to enjoy that life of holiness, that they might not only see a better state than what they do enjoy, but that they might come to enjoy it, and have it for theirs.

There is a universal desire in people that they might have eternal life, and they believe there is an eternal life to be enjoyed; but not everyone has it, and the reason is, because they are not fitted and prepared for the enjoyment of it; for it is a kind of treasure that is never put into an unclean vessel, there must be a cleansing and purifying, that so earthen vessels may come to retain and hold this heavenly treasure; and when it comes to this, that people must be cleansed and purified, here the world turns out to many means and methods; some have gone to outward washings, outward cleansings and observations of, this and the other ordinance, and when all that has been done, themselves being judges, they were yet unclean; when they have done all that lies in their power and ability, towards their washing and cleansing, and towards preparing themselves, they have found some secret testimony in their own consciences that their hearts were still unclean, and that there was defilement still abiding and lodging in the secret of their souls, and this has left a great many puzzled as what they should do; when they have come to the end of all, they do not know what to do. Many have cried secretly, "what shall we do to be saved? For all that we can do, cannot save us. We have retained this, and the other doctrine, followed this and the other way, and made many observations; but all this does not cleanse our soul, nor purge our consciences from dead works, this will not bring us to the inheritance of that immortal life that will give us satisfaction. We hear many speak of satisfaction, and of joy unspeakable and full of glory; but here is a weight and burden that still lies upon our souls."

Therefore, my friends, that all such who are brought so far, as to be under such a burden and oppression, might be informed and come to understand where the true rest is, and where that power can be found, that is able to answer those tender desires that are begotten in them; for this cause has the Lord our God communicated and given the dispensation of the gospel of his son, unto a remnant whom he has sanctified, that they might speak a word in season to the weary soul. This is not a day to make a mock of sin, this is not a day to make a covenant with death and hell, and to resolve to go on in a wicked life, and to continue in it all their days.

But yet there are a kind of people that desire to have a word spoken in season to them when they are weary. How many are there in our age and generation, that one may count of this number, that are sinners, and overcome by their lusts and corruptions, and by the temptation of Satan and his instruments. But they are weary of it, it is a burden to their souls, it costs them many a bitter tear, many a sigh, and many a sad and sorrowful thought in secret, that they should have a sight of a more excellent glory, and of a better life than that of their own, and yet they do not know how to get into it.

My friends, that same divine word of life, by which any of the people of the Lord, in any age, were ever restored, redeemed, and purchased again to the Lord; that word of life must have been at work in their hearts, and has been at work in them, or else you would never have been so far opened; there has been something that has unstopped your ears, that you might hear; and the reason of your continuance in your bonds is, after your knowing something that might have freed you, is, because you have not heartily embraced that which has begun the work, which God, by his redeeming power, has effected in the hearts of those who believe in Christ, and thereby an inclination is raised in people to seek after the Lord.

You know what the apostle said, it is not of us so much as to think a good thought. But this all people will grant is a good thought, when a sinner thinks of turning to God, and leaving his evil ways, if he had power and ability, and cries out, "if I knew how to stand against temptation, I would never sin against the Lord more;" this must be a good thought in your mind. How did it come to be there? Who is the author of this thought, you will say? This ought to be attributed to the love of God in Christ, that he has convinced and persuaded us; and that though there is sin and pollution, yet he has not so forsaken us, as utterly to cast us off, he has sent forth his quickening Spirit, that is, the Lord from Heaven, that he might stir up and quicken people to consider their condition, and bring them to a sense of their present state, that they may come into a better state than they are in at present.

If this may be granted, that the Spirit of God, and the grace of God, is the author of these desires, then it will be granted at the same time, that every one of you ought to be sensible, that such spiritual desires stirring you, are from the motion and operation of the Spirit of God that has raised them in your souls; and then I hope you will grant, that if you had but joined with that Spirit, and with the assistance of that Spirit, all things would have been possible through it.

[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;
as we receive the blessed fulfillment of our hope, even the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity [lawless deeds, sin], and purify for himself a people who are his very own, zealous for good works. Tit 2:11-14
.

Grace shows us what to turn away from in this life and teaches how to live righteously in this life. It shows us our sins and then removes them — more than forgiveness, grace releases us from the bondage of sin, from even the desire to sin. We get immediate strength to forgo the sin, but the removal of the desire is then over time.]

So that here is the first thing that I would have every one satisfied about in their understandings, whether they are totally exempted from any such touches and operations of God or not; for it is said by some ignorantly, that a great part of mankind have never had any such divine workings of the Spirit of God upon them, in order to their conversion; therefore it is not in vain for you to consider your state and condition; for if you, or I, or any here, be under such circumstances, that they never had, nor are ever like to have any such divine operations or touches of the spirit of life, in order to conversion, then I am sure you and I had better never have been told.

If you will consider with yourselves and lay aside the disputes of doctors [of divinity] and learned men, you may know the things pertaining to yourselves. Things relating to others, I may let disputes alone about them; but as for things relating to my salvation, I must have a certain knowledge of them. It concerns you, my friends, to know within yourselves, by an infallible evidence of the Spirit of God, whether you have had such divine touches, workings and operations upon your hearts, as have inclined you to seek the Lord. I hope I may believe there are none here but who have in their hearts an answer: I have had such touches and operations in me. This is great love from God, more than any tongue can set forth. You will be ready to say, “I have not deserved this; I have not so behaved myself towards my Maker as to deserve that he should wait upon me, and call upon me.” When will you turn, and amend your life, and hearken to him who made you? When will you then leave serving God's enemy, and serve him who is your rightful Lord?

So that now this is a great aggravation of our sin to continue in it, and yet to have a belief that God is still waiting upon us, and that he has such a kindness for us, as now and then to touch our hearts by the inward operation of his spirit and grace, in order to conversion.

Now when this is agreed, and men settle themselves in the belief of this, you know what the consequence will be. When I consider with myself, that have been under these workings, have been rebellious, wicked and disobedient to God, yet the Lord is not so angry as utterly to cast me out, but is still waiting to be gracious, by the operation of his spirit, to gather me to himself, in order to sanctify me, and heal my backsliding, to cure my weakness and infirmities, and at the last to save me, and make me an heir of his eternal kingdom; what is the consequence of this love? Why, the next resolve must be this: I will either rebel against his grace, or resist his power, or I will submit to him, which submission is the best way, the safest way!

Are there not a great many in this age, that are as sensible of the workings of God's grace for their conversion, as ever you and I were; that are as sensible that God has called them to holiness and righteousness, as any of us can be, and yet they have resisted the grace of God? They have said in their hearts: “We will not submit to this power, that will make us so holy, and so watchful, and so careful, diligent and obedient, for this very reason; because it will cross my interest, it will cross my pleasure, it will hinder my preferences in the world, and my reputation among men; and for this reason I will not bear this yoke.” I would be glad to hope there are none such here, who have made such a covenant with death and hell, yielding themselves up to the devil to serve him all their days.

Let us, who are at this time, and at this meeting, under the operation of God's grace, and feel the Lord calling us by his grace, and working upon us by his spirit; let us enter together into a holy, solemn resolution, that we will obey this good Spirit, and take him for our leader, and submit, though it would be to a cross. Thus people will think, they will come to this resolution, when the work of redemption is begun in their souls, and when they are convinced of their sin, and their eyes are opened to see the way of holiness; and though they never make a resolution to walk in it, yet every one shall be convinced, and see there was a better way than their own, and be convinced by the grace of God one time or other,* that in respect of God's working of it, it is beginning; but in respect of men that should join with the operation of God, it is not beginning, for he has no desire to those things which he does not know; he still depends upon himself; but when the soul comes to be satisfied, that it is the visitation of God, and joins himself to him in a holy resignation of his own will, and faith, this is the Lord, he is come to work upon me, he is come to change and alter the frame of my mind. It is the Lord, let him do what he will; here is a mind brought to submit to the grace of God, God is able to do that for him which he cannot do for himself.

[*This one time or the other that everyone will be convinced, either happens in this life, or in the next life, with a person taking his part in the lake of fire. See Is There Hope for All, for more.]

When people come to the right object of their faith, and act their faith upon that object:, they every day find a progress, a going forward in the work of grace, according to the work of grace in their souls; and there is a power that inclines them to believe; it is not for such to cry, if they had power, they would do more; he that has the spirit of grace, the Spirit of Christ, that had all power in Heaven and Earth given to him, to put it forth on purpose for the bringing back of men and women home to God; he that has this object of faith before him, he will not look for power in his own will and affections to redeem him, he expects a power to be daily ministered and dispensed to him, as he has need of it, through the Lord Jesus Christ, who is present with him, in all his trials and temptations. He cries, “here is a temptation that will carry me away, O Lord help me, stretch forth the arm of your power and save me; plant your fear in my heart and deliver me;” their eyes shall see their Savior, said the prophet.

Thus when a man comes to be joined to the right object of faith, and exercises to put forth lively acts of faith upon Christ, his eyes shall see his Savior; the light that shines into his heart, discovers to him the temptation, and it also shows him a redeemer at hand; his Savior is near him, and he trusts in him, and relies upon him, and says, this word of God is in my heart, and I do really believe, that although the temptation that assaults me is strong, yet it shall not prevail; whether it is the profits, the pleasures, or the honors of the world. If I put my trust in this power, I cannot go near the evil. I am a Christian. I have entered into a covenant in Christianity, that I will join with nothing but what God approves of. Now when I have represented to my mind the temptation of the devil, and that evil which he sets before me, and I know it is contrary to the mind of God, how can I go into that evil, and break my covenant God, after I have entered into covenant with him, to love him, serve him, and obey him? The power of grace upon such souls, the operation of grace, is so powerful, that the temptation comes and goes, and they are saved and delivered out of it, because God helps them; but if they comply with the temptation, then tribulation, wrath and anguish, pursues all such as are rebellious and disobedient to the will of God.

Now this redemption is carried on gradually from day to day of the truth that you believe operates by degrees; you are delivered, first from one evil practice, and then from another evil work. But there is a great deal more; you rejoice and are glad, that you are delivered from one sin; but you would be gladder to be delivered from them all. I speak to those who are serious for their immortal souls; when they see themselves delivered out of one evil, that they were ready to run into, they would be glad if they were redeemed out of every evil; that their crossness and peevishness, their forwardness, and wantonness were removed. They should be glad to be delivered from all their sins.

What do you think, say some, that a man, while he lives here, may come to see all sin, all evil and corruption brought under, and nothing but holiness, righteousness and truth remain in him; and that there shall be nothing but simplicity and innocence? Do you think that such a thing can be?

Why should not I think so? You will grant me, that the power of grace is able to get such power and victory over sin and corruption, that you may come to hate it as much as ever you have loved it; if you grant me that, the consequence will follow, he that gave me victory over sin, can give me power over all sin. All Christians believe that God's power is infinite; the scripture testifies, all things are possible to God, with whom we have to do. If all things are possible to God, sure this is possible; there is nothing so contrary to God as sin; and God will not suffer the devil always to rule his masterpiece, man. Mankind is God's masterpiece, the most eminent creature in this lower world, made after God's likeness; and though the devil has brought men into his own likeness now, yet nothing can be more contrary to the mind of God, than that the devil should have the rule of us, for God would have the government of us himself.

When we consider the infiniteness of God's power, for destroying what is contrary to him, who can believe that the devil must ever stand and prevail? I believe it is inconsistent and disagreeable with the true faith, for people to be Christians, and yet to believe that Christ, the eternal Son of God, to whom all power in Heaven and Earth is given, will allow sin and the devil to have dominion over them; there is no other name under Heaven by which I can be saved, therefore I have put my confidence in him. If the devil must have the rule of me here, then I cannot be subject to Christ in all things; I may go to meetings, but can never master the devil and his temptations; this is as inconsistent with the faith of a Christian, as light with darkness, and Christ with Belial. If Christians think themselves true believers, then let them see how far their faith will reach, whether it is like that faith, which was once delivered to the saints, for by that faith their hearts were cleansed, and they became free from sin, Rom 6:22. But now being made free from sin, and the servants of God, said the apostle, you have your fruit unto holiness, and the end, everlasting life; you were servants to sin, but now you are free from sin; so that this faith is but one, and if men have gotten another, it will do them no good. Take heed you are not mistaken about your faith.

I have heard some learned men say, that a believer is a servant of sin, and he is likely to always be so; but he is not at the same time free from righteousness, for he has the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, and God looks upon him as righteous in his righteousness; there cannot be a more anti-apostolic doctrine than someone to believe that the may be a servant of sin, and yet have the imputation of Christ 's righteousness. “I may be a servant of sin,” say they, “yet Christ is righteous, he is the righteousness of God, and he has fulfilled the will of God, and has purchased salvation for me, and he is the object by which I am made righteous."

Consider this: the imputation of Christ's righteousness will never do me good, until I come to partake of his righteousness, until his righteousness is made my righteousness, in me and for me. Christ is made to us of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption; so that if a sinner, one who was a sinner the other day, comes through faith in Christ to have his heart cleansed and purged, and true righteousness planted in him, where sin was planted; there sin, through the blood of Christ, is cleansed and purged away.

So that Christ is made righteousness to me, and not his righteousness barely imputed and reckoned to me; Christ is my wisdom, I am a fool without him; Christ is made righteousness to me; for my good deeds and holy living cannot be acceptable to God until they are done in him, and commended to God by him. The proper work of faith is to fix the soul on him who works all things in us and for us, who works in us both to will and to do, according to his good pleasure; and it is the good pleasure of God that we should live in all righteousness.

Those who come to receive this faith at first, have to receive it from an inward feelings they have the operation of the word of God in them; so the apostle reckons faith, not because such a man hears, and such a man believes what such a man preaches, but faith is the operation of God; you may hear me, and a thousand preach, and you may die unbelievers for all that, except you come to this: to know the operation of God, and the work of faith in you. How does my heart close with this? How does my soul join with this? What virtue and power do I feel in myself? It may be others who preach, feel the power, but do I feel it? If not, I come but to a noise and sound. If people feel not their hearts joining with the word preached, there comes no advantage to them; you read in scripture, that the word preached did not profit because it was not mixed with faith in those who heard it. This is your case, you come to meeting, and you love to hear the doctrine of truth preached; but I tell you, and I will speak plainly to you, unless you come to feel the operation of the word of truth in your hearts, you may hear the gospel, and the word of life preached to you, but it will not profit you much.

How is it possible for a man to have a testimony against drunkenness, and yet be drunk? A testimony against: uncleanness, and yet be unclean? How can a man hear such a testimony and believe it, and yet commit the sin? He heard it, but did not feel the virtue of it within himself, and so he did not mortify the sin that he was inclinable to; but those who come to join with truth, and with meekness receive the engrafted word, they find the power and ability of it, they find how able it is to save their souls, they find how it works, not only just when they hear it, but it goes along with them, and dwells with them, and they find the virtue of it overshadowing their souls, with the dread and terror of the Lord, not with the words that a man speaks; I do not trust to them, but here is the power and the fear of the Lord, which will preserve my soul, and keep me in safety; this is what will keep my mind fixed upon him, and keep my mind inward, that I do not gaze about me; so that every one may have are infallible testimony of what they have heard and known.

I have known the doctrine of several sects that have been among us, and the main thing that many have gone from one people to another about, is this: that they might know what such a man holds forth more than such other one, and they think the truth is more perspicuous among such a people than other people; if you examine the matter, it is this, who preached and proved his doctrine best. Alas! if they did all concur together, and did preach as certain and infallible doctrine as ever Christ and his apostles preached, this will all do you and me no good, unless we know the power. You know there were thousands that heard Christ preach, as you now hear me, and there were some so taken with him, that they went away, and said, never man spoke like this man. But were they all Christians? Did they partake of life by him? No, some of them were ready to stone him.

Now bring this home and consider with yourselves, whether you are not some of you in the same state; when you hear truth preached, there is an assent and agreement with it in your minds; but when a command comes to be obeyed, and a cross to be taken up, and self-denial to be shown, or some increase of trade lies in the way, let truth go where it will, you must follow your interest; there is lacking something to hold onto the principle of truth, which is able to sanctify you and perfect you, that you may be reconciled to God through Christ.

Those who are resigned and given up to truth, it is possible for them that they may be satisfied; they have an infallible testimony of the spirit of truth witnessing with their spirits that such a thing is bad, and if the whole world might be doing it, they will not. What is profit and pleasure to me? My pleasure is at God's right hand, and my profit is to get grace, and to have an abundant entrance into God's everlasting kingdom. Those who have the true knowledge of Christ, they have profit and advantage, pleasure and delight enough, which is hidden from the world, and always will be. They are for profit and pleasure, which they may have with a good conscience. Those things which God affords them as blessings in this world, they despise them not, but take them with thanksgiving, and use them for his glory. But if they cannot have profit or pleasure without sinning against the Lord and their own consciences, let those who will, take such profit and pleasure.

Those who come thus to close with truth, they have an infallible evidence within them; they do not conceive it is thus and thus, because such a man said it was so; but they have an infallible evidence in themselves. This is the mind of the Lord; God has signified it by his Spirit, and sealed it upon my spirit, and I cannot but know it.

What, do you profess infallibility? Yes, else I would hold my tongue; if I did not know what I assert infallibly, I would never preach more. Truth may be many times concealed. A man may have wronged and cheated his neighbor, and he not know of it; this man goes away, and his neighbor does not reproach him; but when he comes to be down in his bed, he has a sting and a reproach in his conscience, thinking that I know I have done him harm. Is not this infallible? Let me consult some learned men, that I may know whether I have told a lie. I need not go to learned men and philosophers, to know whether it was a lie. I am infallible in this, I know certainly it was not a lie; I have a certain evidence, and if a thousand men tell me to the contrary, I will not believe them. If there is infallibility here, is there not then infallibility in the word of truth? Shall I question it, or doubt it, if I have an infallible testimony of it?

Though men have ever so little proficiency, if they have it upon sure terms, and lasting foundations, let a thousand men come with all their logical skill and philosophy, yet they can never remove a man from the witness in himself. The remnant that God has brought to this foundation has a certainty and infallibility in their obedience that they pay to the will of God, and in the comfort they have to the obedience of the law of God, which he has written in their hearts. Let come what may, they can never be removed for this exceeds all the precepts and doctrines of men; it is the precept and doctrine of Christ and his apostles. Let people read them, and endeavor to practice them. But here comes the testimony, the divine power by which the precept was given forth to them, and is now given forth again to you and me, with the same liveliness and power. Let us perform them as the primitive Christians did.

Here now, comfort comes to flow forth from a settled foundation that shall never be moved. The winds have come and blown upon religion; let what wind will blow, that can blow, God has built his church upon a rock, and it will remain immoveable against all opposition; blessed are those who are founded upon it. Has God fixed and established us in our society with one another, and with our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the foundation that God has placed it upon, we desire that all men may come to the same stability and settlement, and never more to be tossed with the winds of doctrine, but be built upon Christ Jesus, the Rock of Ages, the rock of our ages, the rock of us and our children. That God will carry us on in this society, is the desire of our souls, for ourselves, and all our friends and countrymen. The way for you to be blessed, and to have an advantage for your immortal souls, by the testimony that has been raised up, is to have regard to the working of the same power, that you may come to partake of the benefit of those gifts and graces which God has bestowed upon his church.

His Prayer after Sermon

Most blessed and glorious God and Father of Life! How wonderful are you in your appearances to your people in the day of your power, in which you have stretched forth your arm, and have gathered a remnant of those who were scattered, and are yet gathering and bringing to yourself those who have been driven away; and you have made known your power and goodness in the hearts of the sons and daughters of men, that they might love you. That you might beget love to yourself, you have made known your love to their hearts; if you had not loved us first, we had never loved you. But you have been shedding abroad your love in our hearts by the Holy Ghost to constrain us to love you. Your love is manifested to all that are breathing after you, and none do breathe after you, but through the life that you give them; and those who were dead in sins and trespasses, have you quickened, and we would send forth your praises and thanksgivings for the great things you have done for us in Jesus Christ. All your works praise you, and your saints bless you.

Holy Father of Life! Increase and multiply those graces and holy desires which you have begun to work in us, and pluck up every plant that your right hand has not planted. Let spiritual Sodom be burnt up, and all that are corrupt; let those things that you have planted spring up to the praise of your name, and the salvation of the souls which you have gathered.

O powerful God of Life! Let your blessed presence and living fear be among us, that all your children may offer praises, and the sacrifices of humble thanksgivings upon your holy altar.

Arise, O Lord! More and more in the greatness of your power, and dispel the clouds of darkness that have been upon the sons and daughters of men, and raise up in every one of us more and more holy desires and breathings after that life that is eternal. Those who have been scattered, let them be now gathered; and let those who have been driven away in a cloudy and dark night, he brought to a glorious and blessed day, in which they may enjoy the gospel that brings light to dark souls, that praises and thanksgivings may be offered up in your house for your holy presence with us, that we may be fed there when we are assembled together in your name, according to your promise. Continue to be in the midst of us, that living praises and thanksgivings may be offered up to you, through Jesus Christ; for you alone are worthy, who are God over all, blessed for evermore. Amen.

SERMON XX

The Word of God, a Christian's Life

Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Grace-Church-Street, March 4, 1687

IT was the doctrine of the great master of the Christian religion, the Lord Jesus Christ, while he was preaching and publishing, and making known the way of salvation among the sons and daughters of men; he then preached and declared, that it was not bread only by which a man lived, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Now the way and means of man's preservation in life, in a living state, the method and course that the God of Heaven opens to keep the sons and daughters of men alive, is by this word. Every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, has a ministration of life in it;* and, therefore, all that are desirous of the enjoyment of the immortal life, and of the preserving and increasing of it, they are diligently to wait to be made partakers of this divine ministration. Outward bread is for outward preservation, but man is made inward as well as outward, he has a soul as well as a body. Now Christ, to signify to us, what the inward man is nourished and fed by, tells us, that man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

[The words we hear spoken to us impart the life of God, John 6:63; if we obey, practice, and keep the commands and teachings we hear.]

So now in this our day, as well as in former days, it has pleased God to give unto a remnant an experiential knowledge of the truth of this, that they have been quickened and made alive by the word of God; that is, they have heard and felt, and tasted of the word of life that was with the Father before the world began, that has been divinely ministered to them, by the mercy of God, through Jesus Christ; many that were dead in trespasses and sins, he has said unto them, live. He has given unto many an inward sense of their state, who previously had no sense of it; he has brought many a one to feel sin to be a burden and an oppressing load, who sometimes before have taken pleasure and delight in the sin. This is a great change that is wrought in a man's mind, that he should come to be laden with that, burdened and oppressed by what was previously his pleasure and delight; yet this great change has been wrought in many a soul, by the operation of the word of God, of that inward word, that inward voice, when the Lord has taken men in hand himself.

There are many who have taken sinners in hand, and have gone about to convince them and convert them, but they were not able to do it; but when the Lord has taken men in hand himself, when his Creator has undertaken to deal with a man himself, then the man cries out, "I am a worm, and no man;" then he cries out under the sense of the judgment of God, then he cries out under the indignation of the Lord, which he has kindled by his sins, he cries out for mercy, then he prays for remission, then he wishes that he had never provoked the Lord; for the word that goes out of the mouth of God, has a mighty force and power upon the spirit of a man, so that he is converted and changed by it; as the prophet said of old, the word of God is pure, converting the soul.

Now where any come to an experiential knowledge of the word of the Lord, of this inward voice by which God speaks to the sons and daughters of men, they have received thereby an infallible seeing of their own state and condition; this is the first lesson learned by it. They come to have a certain, infallible knowledge of their own state, and they are sure that they cannot be deceived; for it brings an evidence with it in their consciences, so that whatever this Word of life signifies to a man, he has the knowledge of the same thing evidencing it in his own conscience, as the apostle said, if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Now here is a way found out for men to obtain divine knowledge by a divine means; for the Lord speaks by his Spirit, and if men come to hearken to that voice, unto that speaking, they perceive readily what it says to them. The Lord tells people as well now as in former ages, what he has against them; and this every one in the closet of their own hearts, come to understand. We read in the book of Revelation, what our Lord Jesus Christ appointed John to write to the seven churches in Asia, that he had few things against some, and many things against others.

Now what is the design of our meeting when we are assembled together, is, that we may know what the mind and judgment of God is, concerning ourselves. How shall we know that, unless we ask him, and come to wait upon him, and inquire at the oracle of counsel, that God has appointed in the bosom of every man? For he signifies his mind unto the children of men, by that light and grace which Jesus Christ has planted in them, he has enlightened every man that comes into the world, with an undeceiving light, and he has ministered of his truth and grace to every man; though the man is bad and untrue, and in the dark, and there is darkness in him, yet the light shines in darkness. The man may be a false man, yet there is true knowledge in him if this man hearkens to the voice of truth, when the God of truth signifies what his mind and judgment is concerning him, and his present state.

So that there is an opportunity offered, and if a man believes the word of truth, which is administered to his own mind, he cannot say such a man has deceived him, for it is truth itself which is signified to him what he believes. For the truth is the object of his faith, and he believes it to have come from himself; he believes that while he remains wicked in his unrenewed state, he is out of the covenant of God, and in the high road to destruction if he does not get out of it, return to God, and mind his duty. He believes this, and he believes the truth. It has been so with many, it has been so with us all; this is the first kind of faith and belief that we ever receive; for when truth signifies to us our fallen state, our alienated state, when truth signifies and discovers to us the partition of sin and iniquity which we have built up, by which the glory and favor of God has been hidden from the soul, we believed this to be true. We would have been looked upon as heirs of God's kingdom, yet when we have come to listen to truth, we find that we are children of the devil and do his works; shall a man believe this after he has been forty years a professor of Christianity? If a man believes truth, there is no danger in believing it, though it is his own destruction that is threatened.

Now the great thing that I would have ushered into the hearts of men, is, that they may believe the truth for truth's sake. If men will believe the truth, they must believe many things against themselves, which they are not [readily] willing to believe; but said Christ, no man can be my scholar or my disciple unless he denies himself. I must deny myself, my pretensions to Christianity, my supposed sainthood, and title to the kingdom of God. Now if I would be convinced that I am a wicked man, a profane man, one who does not live as becomes the gospel, I must believe truth, the voice of truth being of infallible certainty; it is signified divinely, by the immortal word that cannot deceive us. This ought to be the reason why people should believe the testimony of it, though it is against themselves. Those who do so, presently come to find the effects of it, for they were in their sins and trespasses before, and so still are. They were before in a kind of liberty, in a kind of ease and indulgence of themselves, and still their sin remains in them, and they remain in it; but they are now under a sense of sorrow, under a weight, under a burden, under an oppression, which signifies they are alive, and quickened for (if you make an outward comparison) they do not remain senseless and dead; now whatever load you will upon a dead man, he will neither groan, nor grumble at it; but if he comes again to life, he cries take off the burden, the weight and oppression, that lies heavy upon me.

This is the difference between being dead in sins and trespasses, and being brought to life and sense again; this word of life that comes from the mouth of God, begets a sense in everyone that receives it; it is of great service and use, so all people to be acquainted with it, who desire to be heirs of life eternal, who desire to be inheritors of the kingdom of God. But how should they come by it? They think by this and the other duty, and temporary performance, to obtain it; no, but if they will have life, they must have it from the God of life that created them; he must create them again to good works. They can have it but by one way; all must be brought to it that way. It cannot be done by hearing a man preach, unless the spirit supplies the words preached with the word of God; there is no possibility of being quickened, and necessity binds me to hearken and have regard to that one means. Now I say to you, said Christ, speaking of people's way of living to eternity, man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God; now when we come to understand this text, as spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ, we did conclude there was a possibility of understanding and hearing that inward voice and word of truth in our own hearts, that God did speak to us by his Son, Jesus Christ, who enlightened us. Hereupon meetings were appointed at first, that the word should Minister life in them, and life to those who attend them; and to this day our meetings are appointed for this purpose, that we may have the manifestation of life and virtue, from Christ, the fountain of life and virtue, by whom we were to be quickened and strengthened, and by whom those who are dead in sins and trespasses were quickened.

Therefore I would have everyone always to have a reverence to the word of life, that speaks in themselves; for, if we speak as we are moved by the Spirit of God, and utter those things by verbal testimony, which God has made known to us; if you have not an oracle in your bosoms, if you do not at the same time perceive an echo of truth in your own souls, this will do you no good, but be an empty sound which will pass away again; but the mind that is serious and settled, in waiting upon God with an earnest desire, that it may receive benefit in going to this and the other meeting; such a one will say, "I pray God bless this opportunity to me, that so I may receive benefit to my soul." Where people meet in this manner, they have not only an administration of doctrine from without, from this and the other instrument, but they have a ministration of the word of God in themselves, by which a man lives.

Let us not be led and hurried away with the grand error of the times, the great error of this age, and of the ages past, that there is no possibility for people to understand and hear this voice of God, this inward voice. There are, they say, no direct from God teachings now days, no inspirations now days; they might as well say that there are no conversions now days. I will prove it from the holy scriptures, that there is no man in this age, who is likely to be converted to God, or redeemed from his iniquity, and brought to the knowledge of his Maker, unless he has it by the inward working of the eternal God. Not by man's preaching and instruction, nor by reading all the good sermons that ever were preached, without the co-operation of the holy sanctifying Spirit, which begets life in those who believe; and if these men say none can be converted, then we must all go headlong to hell, even they and all.

[In the 21st Century, we hear many sects claim that prophecy and revelation have ceased and that the Bible is the sole way to learn of God; and they say this without a shred of scripture to back up their claim. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever; there was revelation yesterday, there is revelation today, and there will be revelation forever. The scripture says that what is to be know of God is revealed within man, as God has shown them. Rom 1:19. Scripture says the Son, and God, are revealed by the son. Scripture says there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Mat 10:26. The ministers who deny revelation and prophecy are spiritually deaf and spiritually blind, in captivity, because they have led others into captivity. They want to convince you that you must limit yourself to scripture, and particularly to the limited subset of scriptures they consider true; that way they can control you. For if you start listening to God, they lose their control; you will quickly see they are the false prophets that Jesus said would come, whom the apostles saw had gone out from them as antichrists into the world, and who now the whole world follows, as the Book of Revelation predicted.

Jesus said: learn of me; all men will be taught of God; the Holy Spirit will teach you all things; the Spirit of Truth will lead you into all truth. Jesus did not lie and he still teaches.]

[The blind guides can say] Those Quakers may say what they will, [but] there is no immediate teaching now days, no man can know the mind of God, nor understand the scriptures; none can open them to you.

But, blessed be God, this darkness is removed; this veil is gone over and taken away, the brightness of the glory of the gospel has expelled this darkness, and thousands now days do not only hear the minister reprove them, but they hear a voice within that reproves them for iniquity, and they find and feel a judgment and tribunal within themselves, and that God has an direct way of counseling and instructing them if they will listen to him.

You who are under any sense of this, who have come to such an inward sense of the operation of the word of God, if you have heard it reprove you, exhort you, judge you and condemn you, consider that this word proceeded out of the mouth of God, and not out of the mouth of any man. You hear the sentence of God upon you in your own consciences. From where does it come? This is out of the mouth of God. Every word that comes out of the mouth of God, administers life, sense and conviction; and you feel it and receive it, and you may have a more familiar acquaintance with it. There is not a day or hour that passes over your heads nor mine, but if we attend to this inward voice, we may know what it speaks to us, by its counsels, doctrines, reproofs, convictions and illuminations; for the Spirit speaks expressly, with an express message to the spirit of man. If a man is under a temptation to tell a lie, and he comes to a little pause or question, whether he shall tell it or not; if he listens to this inward word, he will not pause long about it because such a sentence will arise in him, as that did in Joseph, saying how can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? How can I speak a lie, tell a lie, when in so doing I sin against God? Here is a sentence of truth; will you receive it or not? “No,” you say, “I will venture to tell a lie;” then you shall come into the rank of those who do despite to the Spirit of grace and trample under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing. What sentence such shall have at the latter end, you may read at large in the holy scriptures.

Now there is a great necessity that everyone be persuaded to hearken to this voice, not only at a meeting, but on all occasions they have in the world. I hope I speak to many serious and religious persons who are inquiring about their immortal souls as to what may be best for their souls, whether it is better to go on in wickedness, or stop; and who resolve and say, “I would be glad to leave my sins as well as you, if I had power, and to live a holy life.” As for the lack of power, (that you do not have power), I am not surprised. For until you come to an exercise of faith, in what has empowered the people of God, in all ages, I do not wonder that you have no power. You say, “I am so weak that I am overcome before I am aware; the devil is so subtle and cunning with his temptations, that I am surprised and snatched into temptations, and overcome with evil before I am aware.” He is like a roaring lion, going about continually, seeking whom he may devour. But whom can he devour? Can he devour those who hearken and submit to the word of God? If he could, then none could escape him; if the devil could pluck out of God's hands, then nobody would go to Heaven, nor never shall, if he [the devil] has power.

Where the devil finds any in their own hands, as suppose a religious person of this and the other religion, who never experienced anything of this power of God, but trusts to his duties and performances, this man is in his own hand; now the tempter has power over a person like this. He can make him cheat his neighbor, and lead him into drunkenness and uncleanness sometimes, and into the greatest abominations; but if a man comes into the exercise of faith and dependence upon God, and has left trusting in himself and has faith, he will say: "I see I cannot preserve myself from sin. I see a necessity of putting my trust in the Lord, and of waiting upon God's power to keep me." If the tempter comes to such a one, he cannot prevail, all the devils in hell cannot stir him one jot; the devil may tempt him, but he stands in the power of faith; he knows his name, and says, get you behind me Satan; when the devil comes before him, and lays a temptation before him, he casts it behind him; if the devil rises up against him, he can chain him down, he can say in the name of the Lord, get you behind me Satan.

This is the reason why many are tempted, and not overtaken, and why many are tempted to sin and not overcome; how it happens that we do not do everything that we are tempted to do.

There is something that keeps us; the devil is not so bad to tempt, but we are as bad in our own inclinations to yield to him; the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? There is more wickedness in it, than can be uttered. If people are tempted and not overcome, something must preserve them; if there is something that preserves a man from any evil, it can preserve him from all evil.

The reason why some people are led into temptation sometimes, and resist it, is because sometimes the temptation does not suit their inclination; sometimes the reputation lies in the way, sometimes one thing, sometimes another. But when a thing they are tempted to, suits their profit and pleasure, then away with the fear of God, and nothing shall hinder them; I will have my pleasure.

But those who understand the keeper of Israel, and come to know his power lying in their hearts, these always bring their deeds and attitudes before him, and they come to him for a verdict and judgment, and they ask, does this tend to the honor or dishonor of God? Is it good or evil? The oracle of God in your heart says, "do not do it, it is evil, you will kindle the indignation of the Lord against you; what will it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your own soul? Or what will you give in exchange for your soul?" Here is one at hand that can give counsel to all of us at all times; this is he that we must advance; our labor and work upon the stage of this world, among the sons and daughters of men, is to advance the virtue and great authority of the mighty Counselor, Christ Jesus; we do say and affirm, in the name of God, that the same light by which God has brought us out of darkness into his marvelous light, and from the power of the devil into the kingdom of his dear Son; the same power is extended to you, that you may be sanctified and saved from your sins.

One sect will say, my tenets are so and so, and our ordinances are so and so, will you come over to us? You shall be a member of our church.

Our duty is to come over to the grace of God that shines in our hearts, now we are witnesses for God, that he does not desire the death of those who die, but rather that they would turn and live, for his word is gone forth, and his light shines, and his glory is risen upon the nations, that those who inhabit the earth may fear him. Fear God, and give glory to his name, for the hour of his judgment is come. Do you know that to be true? That you may not be deluded, you shall certainly know that the hour of God's judgment has come.

Thus when any one allows himself to be led away with the evil one, when he feels after that a remorse upon his own heart, he finds a secret judgment and tribunal let up in his own bosom, against whoredom, lying, drunkenness, fraud and other sins; he knows he has done amiss. He cannot go to a confessor who will take off and remove the guilt from his conscience. He has offended the majesty of the great God, and God has signified it to him; has not judgment come, and has not God set it up in his own heart? If through custom in sin you lose the sense of his judgment, it is not because God has determined to take advantage against you, but because you acted against yourself, and came to be past feeling. You were once under a sense of these things, and you were not past feeling. If you at any time told your parents a lie, you had remorse; but now you can tell a lie, and not feel it. You are past feeling; whose fault is this? The Lord would have brought you to love the truth, but you chose lying; if you perish, your blood will be upon your own head, the Lord is clear from it.

Those who receive the word of God have life. For man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. You are sensible of God’s speaking this word to you. I exhort you all in the love of God, that you would prize this manner of speaking, and look upon it as the greatest mercy that you have ever enjoyed, that God has not given up speaking to you, and that your conscience has not up speaking to you, and that the Spirit of the Lord does still strive with you; he will not always strive; you may be of that sort of fools before you die, that make a mock of sin and be as trees twice dead, and plucked up by the roots. You that are sensible of this inward voice, prize it above all your mercies; health and wealth, and all other mercies, are not worthy to be compared to this voice of God speaking in you. Those who prize this will never complain for lack of power; they will find power in it; all the power in Heaven and Earth is contained in this truth that shines to you. Those who come to be exercised in this word, receive power from God, for God gives it to them; he gives them power by degrees, (from being sons of Belial, sons of the devil) power to become sons of God, even to as many as believe in his name. Those who receive this truth, grow sensitive to a lie or a vain word; they find themselves grown tender, feeling, and sensitive. Here is a token that the God of life is quickening them; I am now tender of speaking a lie to my neighbor; I will not do that thing to another, that I would not have another do to me. When you come to a tender state, which is far better than a hard-hearted state, you will have an evidence in yourselves, that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Blessed are those who God has brought into acquaintance with his word; of all nations and people upon the earth, they are a blessed people. Although there are manifold blessings that reach indifferently to all, the sun shines, and the rain falls on the evil and the good and on the just and unjust. Yet this is a blessing that can only make the soul happy, that a discourse between it and its Maker is open; that there is an open discourse for the Lord to hear a man cry, and he to receive his word. All those whom God has brought into covenant with himself by Christ, have been made sensible of this discourse and way of God’s speaking to his people, which he spoke to them by in former days. Take heed that this way is not stopped up; you know by what it was opened, and what will stop it up again; when you were in much trouble and grief, you cried to the Lord, and he delivered you. But if I regard iniquity in my heart, said David, the Lord will not hear me. You cried to the Lord again, it may be, and he did not answer you; and the Lord cried to you and you did not answer him, but hearkened to your lusts.

Yet the Lord by his long-suffering and patience has won upon a remnant, and has brought them over to believe and trust in his power, to remove out of the way what hindered the relationship between God and their souls. What a great stir was there in removing out of the way the pride, corruption, enmity, looseness, wantonness, and an abundance more of evil things that made the soul like a wilderness? What hacking and burning up was there? God's word, like a hammer, and like a fire, did break up and burn up these things; and the same word of God, like a sword, did cut down those sins and lusts which prevailed over you before. By this means God has opened a way for you, to have access to him, and for his word to have access to you. When you come to the Lord in this way, you know you live by this word, and if you hear the word of the Lord spoken immediately to you, your joy and consolation increases, and you have sweet communion and fellowship with God and Christ, and with one another, by this covenant of life. How did you come into it? It was by removing a great deal of rubbish out of the way. If you should let this rubbish grow up again, which kept you from the joy of the Holy Ghost, will it not do it again? If your pride, corruption, enmity, prejudice, looseness and wantonness, if these are allowed to grow up in any of you, they will do as they did before, they will separate you from the Lord and from one another. As the truth brought you to God and this heavenly fellowship with him, so if a wrathful mind and wanton spirit get up again, it will separate you from God, and scatter you from one another, then you will live in the outward life, and die to the inward one and perish. Remember you were told so.

* From the Word of the Lord within:

Everyone that goes from this living word, and allows anything to arise of the old nature, so much as that rises, so much will your way of relation with God be stopped; sometimes men cry to God, but they have a bar in their way; and they come for comfort to the throne of grace, but they cannot receive those ministrations of joy and peace, which they desire; their foolish hearts are darkened, and their minds blinded, and they will go on in darkness, and are left out of the holy covenant which God has called his people to.

You whom God has engaged to be his, by the operation of his power, O live in a holy fear and watchfulness; and know this, that set your understandings and gifts be what they will, you have nothing but what is given you, and what God has given you, he can take away. You have decked yourself with my flax, and my wool, and with my silver and gold, and other ornaments, and followed your lovers; therefore will I take them away from you and strip you of all that you glory in. Those who forget God, of whom they had these things, that forget their brokenness of heart, and the subjection of their spirits to God; if they forget this, let them know, that let their parts be what they will, they will certainly wither, and their inward life will fail. You who have regard to your own souls, and desire heartily, at this time, to be quickened, and find that the Lord has removed your deadness, and quickened and raised you to such a degree and measure of life, that you can say, "I find communion with God, and fellowship with my friends and brethren in that one eternal life;"* I pray God you may continue in it long, and lay down your heads in this blessed, heavenly life. Now that you may so do, keep yourselves low and humble, and in the fear of God, and keep your ears always open to his word, and live as becomes those who are born again and begotten of God, and are brought to partake of the divine life. Let temptations surround you, that life will preserve you; he who never sinned is with you, to keep you from sin; and he that never deceived any, will keep you from being deceived. To his counsel and conduct, and to his divine care and protection, I now commit you.

* [The early Quakers assembled to wait in humble silence for the Lord, and in that fleshly silence those mature enough in Spirit worshiped God with his Spirit leading their silent words and praise. The only audible words spoken were those commanded by the Lord; the only audible singing was commanded by the Lord. The only interaction of the members was not in fleshly, audible words, but was in the Spirit, where the members came to know one another without words; instead through silent, unspoken communication in the Spirit. These meetings were often attended with the visible presence of the Lord, (seen and heard with the eyes and ears of the heart), ministering to them all; and that presence left the members greatly refreshed.

George Fox spoke further of the true fellowship in the below excerpt from Letter 149, a fellowship in the Spirit and light that John also referenced: That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ....But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7. (From the Word of the Lord within: "Walking in the light is to be guided through life by God; walking in darkness is making your own decisions as to what to do and say.")

All Friends everywhere,

Meet together, and in the measure of God's spirit wait,
that with it all your minds may be guided up to God, to receive wisdom from God.
That you may all come to know how you may walk up to him in his wisdom.
That it may be justified of you, and you in it preserved up to God, and be glorified.
And Friends meet together, and know one another in that which is eternal,
which was before the world was.
For knowing one another only in the letter and flesh,
differs you little from the beasts of the field;
for what they know they know naturally.
But all knowing one another in the light which was before the world was,
this differs you from the beasts of the field,
and from the world's knowledge,
and brings you to know one another in the elect seed which was before the world was.

In a letter to newly convinced believers, Francis Howgill gives us a little more understanding of fellowship in the spirit vs. fellowship in the flesh:

And wait for discerning, to have salt in yourselves, to know and savor one another in the spirit, and operation, and working of it; that being sensible, and feeling one another’s conditions in the spirit, you may speak to the informing of one another, to the building up on one another, in the precious faith. But be slow to speak, and swift to hear; and do not feed each other’s sensual wisdom, which is the serpent’s seat. For words without knowledge darken counsel, and betray simplicity.

Some people want human companionship. Few seek God only, treasuring His words, teachings, love, convictions, and encouragements, however scant the bread from heaven may be when compared with Babylon's boundless TV, books, radio, music, and meetings. Until you are specifically told to meet with others, keep to yourselves.]

<Sermons Continued>>>>

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