The Missing Cross to Purity


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SERMON XXIV

Captive Sinners Set Free by Jesus Christ

Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Devonshire-House, April 29, 1688

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to preach the gospel to the poor;
he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
to preach release to the captives [of sin],
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to deliver [free] those who are oppressed [by sin],
Luke 4:18-19

THERE is nothing that will make people live to God, but what they receive from God. For as all men are by nature in a state of death, so there must be something beyond nature to make them alive again; and this is what every one ought to wait upon God for, that you may feel something that is supernatural, and that you may be acquainted with God's gift; the gift of God, said the scripture, is eternal life. Many find a life in this world that is not the gift of God. The life that people have in sin, it is not the gift of God; the delights and pleasures of this world have become a life unto them. The world is what every one must die to; those who are not dead to the world live to themselves; they do not live to God for no one can live to God, but by the life that comes from him. What people receive from man, gathers them to man; what they receive of God, carries them to God.

So men have made gatherings, and have communicated of what they have to one another, and by the virtue of their communications to each other, they have made themselves a people. Many men have gathered many people, many churches, and they live to those who gathered them. They do not live to God, never having received something from God; but all those who come to receive the gift of God, they die to the world, and they come to live such a life as the world does not love, does not care for, and has no pleasure in. If you were of the world, said Christ, the world would love you; but because you are not of the world, they hate you. How should this be understood, were they not some of the men of that generation? How does he mean they were not of the world? Why, I have taken you out of it, said he; and yet they were there still, and they were named by certain names, the sons of such and such men; yet for all that, they were not of the world; and what differed in them was being made partakers of that life which the world did not know [or appreciate].

And so there will be an enmity in the world against the life of holiness; those of the world will hate anybody that lives in it; and as it was then, so it is at this day, those who are of the world, they hear and receive those things that are of the world, from the men of this world; but those who are of God, they hear those who are of God, and they receive the things of God, and their greatest comfort and joy that they have is in their communion with God in Christ Jesus, through whom, as through a conduit, the blessings of the father are ministered to them, and through whom, as from the fountain of life, their life is renewed from day to day.

But these things are hidden from the world, prudently hidden from those wise of mind; they cannot dig into the depth, nor ascend to this height; they cannot comprehend the length and the breadth of the things of God, which are in Christ Jesus. They may reach unto something of the love of God that is in the creation; they can tell when the sun shines upon them, and when the rain falls upon their fields, and when it falls in due season They call it a blessing; and while the covenant with winter and summer remains, they look upon it as comfortable, and perhaps sometimes will bestow a saying, I thank God for it. All these things are beneath us, and there is neither love nor hatred known by them all. I saw the wicked, said one, I beheld his dwelling place, and he flourished like unto a green bay-tree, and was wicked still, despite all this.

But now, those who see where they live, who live to God, they can say, that their leaf never withers, but they bring forth their fruit in due season. But he did not do the same, that is the wicked man that flourished like a green bay-tree; behold I looked, and he was removed, and his place was no more to be found. There came a blasting upon all his blessing and his flourishing came to an end; his riches perished, and his good things passed away from him. But the man whose delight is in the law of God, and makes it his pleasure both night and day, he is like a tree planted by the rivers of water, whose leaf never fades, and brings forth his fruit in due season.

But this is hidden; there is nobody in the world that would not like to have something of this life too for then they would be sure of eternal life; but they would not die to the other life, they would not be crucified to the world, they would not be separated from their lovers. If they could get into the state of a righteous man, an hour or two before they die, when they are sure they shall die, it would please them; but to live that life that is to God, is to die to the world, and to part with that they have, their comfort, their joy, their peace and honor, and all their worldly enjoyments in it, before they can come to receive the gift of God, they think is hard. But those who long for a godly life, and have a mind to find it out without parting with the world's life, they deceive themselves.

Do not you see how men have deceived themselves in these days? They have sought after the kingdom of God until they are scattered in their own way; they are quarrelling about their own way, as if they never had any scripture to be their rule. They cry the scripture is their rule; this is the way to eternal life, says one; and this is the way, says another; and the one and the other say all these ways are false except their own; and all these contenders about the way to eternal life, they all say the scripture is the rule.

[They all say the scripture is the rule, but they all have different scriptures they hold true, and different interpretations, while ignoring many others that conflict; so that there are 41,000 sects in Christendom. Each sect has taken a subset of scriptures and created their own Jesus and God. These sects are the Whore of Babylon. The whore and her billions of followers worship a different Jesus, created from a subset of scriptures, ignoring hundreds others that conflict with her creation, and twisting others into the opposite of their meaning. Their created Jesus does not speak to them; their god doesn't teach them, their god doesn't cleanse them of sin, or purify them, or perfect them; their god has the form but no power. And those who follow these ministers of this other Jesus will not realize their error until they die, at which point the real Jesus, who has power, will say to them: Depart from me you workers of iniquity for I have never known you.]

And yet the scriptures speak of the way too, and tell us the way plainly; the way to rest, peace and life eternal. If the scriptures had been silent in it, and had said nothing but of genealogies and histories of armies and wars, that would be a different case; but the scriptures of the Old and New Testament speak of a certain way to eternal life, and say it is the way of holiness, a way shall be cast up for the redeemed and the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, and the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not mistake in it. Though he never took a degree at the university, he shall not err in it; though he is a fool in the account of the world, and never understood Greek or Latin, yet he shall not err in this way.

The way that leads to the kingdom of God, is called the way of holiness; but while many have been reading in their books, they have been contending for a way of unholiness; no wonder then they have been quarrelling about it, and have all missed it, and that is the main point of all. Let them make a way, which way they will, and frame it ever so wisely, according to the best wit they have, be it a way that has all material qualifications that should make it a way of holiness, these men may walk in it; but they will never find the way to the kingdom of God, though they have sought it out. Go to one place and another place, and ask them, what is your way? Our way, say they, is the right way, the most sure and certain way that can be found for people to walk in. But where will it lead me? It will lead you to the kingdom of God. That is what I would have; but will it lead me to holiness? No, never in this world, you must never come to holiness; do the best you can do here, it is but sin; the best day's work you make is but sin; the best child of God on earth cannot live a day without sin. Do you require that in your way? Yes; then I have done with that, and must go to another people.

So many have gone many ways to the kingdom of God, and when the upshot is come, they have found every way a polluted way, a sinful way. I know this way will never lead me to God; sin first led me from God; I had been well enough as I was created at first, if I had never sinned against God; a sinful way will lead me from God. It is against common sense, and against rationality, to say we first departed from God by sin, and must go to God again by a sinful way. Who will believe that such a way will lead men to God's kingdom? and that any way will lead men to God, which does not lead them to holiness?

The Psalmist said, if I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me; though a man keeps close to meeting, and ordinances, and duties, and performances, it seems iniquity remains still; there is no rooting it out in this world. This iniquity, continuing and remaining with a man, makes all his performances, duties, and prayers unacceptable to God; they are all turned back again upon him, and cast as dung upon his face, and true enough too; so that here is no coming unto God in this way; those coming to God know well enough they are not reconciled to God [while sinning], if they are men who are conscientious.

There is a sort of people so stupid and sordid in their judgment, that if a man tells them they are reconciled to God, they will believe him though their conscience reproves them a hundred times a day. If the parson of the parish says, that he has made this child an heir of the kingdom of God and an inheritor of eternal life; I know some have believed it forty years after, and have born themselves up upon this man's word all their life. Do you think there is any danger of me, that in baptism I was made an inheritor of eternal life, and an heir of the kingdom of God? God has not appointed ordinances in his church for nothing. I am not talking about sordid hard-hearted people, who have never turned inward to inquire their status with God, whether they are converted; but I speak of sober conscientious people, who do not desire to be cheated in a point of salvation, though they have been deceived a long while, they may be undeceived. Then they must take this for certain doctrine, that nothing can reconcile them to their Maker but what takes away sin. God does not hear sinners, he will never be reconciled to a man in this world as a sinner; but there are many thousands (blessed be God) in this age, as well as in other ages, that were sinners, and reconciled to God through Christ, and had remission of sin; but there was never any man in his sin reconciled to God, though he believed the truth; if he did not come to the sanctification of the spirit, he could never be reconciled to God.

So that there has been in all ages a way of the working of the Spirit of God in the hearts of those who believe, to prepare them for the sinless kingdom, for that glorious kingdom, into which nothing that hurts, defiles or corrupts, can enter. And because we cannot enter with corruption and defilement, he has appointed the ministration of his Spirit to work out what might hinder the cleansing of us from sin, that we might have an abundant entrance into his glorious kingdom; so that while they say there is an impossibility of living without sin, they might as well have said that it is impossible to enter into the kingdom of God; for never any shall come into the kingdom of God, but those who are without sin; for there is no purgatory after death.

The Papists have a better conceit than the Protestants in that respect. The Protestants conceive sin to be expelled at the point of death; and they say, all the sins of believers, all the guilt of sin, after we are believers, is pardoned, forgiven and done away, by the death of Christ upon the cross; we will have it, if we can get it. If men can imagine a way into the kingdom of God, they will have one. They believe that a man may sin and contract no guilt; and that he may sin until his dying day, and then all sin shall pass away, and he shall enter into God's kingdom. The Papists say none can come to Heaven until they are purged from sin; and they say God has appointed a place for that purpose, and persons must go into purgatory, and they must lie there until they are purged, and purified, and fitted for Heaven. Now, say the Protestants, truly; there is no such thing, we find no such thing mentioned in the scripture, therefore such a thing as this cannot be; for the apostle said, we have declared to you the whole counsel of God, and he speaks not a word of purgatory in all the New Testament. The Protestants have imagined a way to help themselves,* and the Papists, also, to help themselves, and both lie under danger. As for the Papists, if their priests are mistaken, and there is no such place as purgatory, then they must be brought back to the doctrine of the scripture, which declares, that as death leaves us, so judgment shall find us; and as we sow so we must reap; if we sow to the flesh, then of the flesh we shall reap corruption. Then the Protestants, likewise, if they are mistaken in saying, a man may act sin and yet contract no guilt, then they must be brought back to the doctrine of the scriptures, that tell us, the soul that sins must die. If a righteous man forsakes  his righteousness, and does that which is evil, his righteousness shall be remembered no more, but in the sin that he has committed, he shall die.

[*The Protestant doctrine of instant justification, sainthood, and salvation, through beginning belief was created by Martin Luther, who created his demonic doctrine by ignoring the books of Hebrews, Jude, James, Esther, and Revelation. He called the book of James a "letter of straw," and said regarding the Book of Revelation that he could "in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it." All scripture is true. If you have to ignore certain scriptures to maintain your beliefs in other scriptures, then you do not understand the scriptures you think you understand.]

This is sound doctrine. I had rather trust the doctrine of the prophets and apostles than the doctrine of all others, either Protestants or Papists; and had rather depend those inspired by the Holy Ghost for a doctrine for salvation, than upon the doctrines of those who say, there is no inspiration now days. Some conceive this scripture may be interpreted thus and thus; and others conceive it means so and so, but we must, say they, submit to better judgment. I am a fallible man; I submit it to better judgments. Now when people are concerned for immortality and eternity, to have such things dished out in such a manner, what souls are so dull that they would not arouse themselves, and consider and look about them before they depart from here, and how it shall go with them after they leave this life?

We are now to work out our own salvation; that is on our part. None ever have wrought out this salvation, it is wrought out on God's part already, and it is to be made ours; he that is our Savior, he has suffered for our sins, and rose again for our justification; he was made to us, of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Now wisdom signifies the opening of the counsel of God, righteousness signifies the subjection of our wills to the will of God; sanctification signifies obedience to the Spirit of Christ. Sanctification signifies obedience to something; to what? What shall we be obedient unto? What is our rule? He that is led by the Spirit of Christ, he is his; but he that is not led by the Spirit of Christ is none of his; so that it is plain, sanctification signifies obedience to the Spirit of Christ, and redemption signifies buying again, or setting free from bondage.

You know when our friends are in captivity, as in Turkey, or elsewhere, we pay down our money for their redemption, but we will not pay our money if they are kept in their fetters still. Would not anyone think himself to have been cheated, if he pays so much money for their redemption, and the bargain be made so that he shall be said to be redeemed, and be called a redeemed captive, but he must wear his fetters still? How long? As long as he has a day to live [which is how long are we told we must remain captive to sin, until we die].

This is for bodies; but now I am speaking of souls. Christ must be made to me redemption, and rescue me from captivity. Am I a prisoner anywhere? Yes; verily , verily, he that commits sin, said Christ, he is a slave to of sin; he is a slave to sin. If you have sinned, you are a slave, a captive, who must be redeemed out of captivity. Who will pay a price for me? I am poor, I have nothing; I cannot redeem myself; who will pay a price for me? There is one having come, who has paid a price for me; that is well, that is good news, then I hope I shall come out of my captivity. What is his name; is he called a Redeemer? So then I do expect the benefit of my redemption, and that I shall go out of my captivity. No, say they, you must abide in sin, as long as you live. What benefit then do I have by my redemption? I could have been in captivity no longer; if I had not been redeemed. I must wear my shackles and fetters all, and be subject to my old master and patron, and when he will have me be drunk, I must be drunk; and when he will have me be unclean, I must be unclean.

Thus there are many professed Christians, (you see it with your eyes), that will tell you they believe all the articles of the creed, and they have been baptized into the Christian faith, and can recite all the principles of the Christian religion, and perform the duty of Christians in going to church, saying their prayers, and possibly even giving alms; they are such as would be called Christians. They would be called so, yet they are not redeemed from their vain conversations; for what makes their shackles and fetters about them? When their old master tells them to be drunk, they will be drunk; and when he tells  them to commit whoredom, or lie, or cheat their neighbor, they will do it. You do believe the devil leads you to this; you will not say the Spirit of God leads you to do it. If one demands, why did you do it? You say, "the devil prevailed upon me." What, has the devil power over men after they are redeemed? What sort of redemption is this? Then comes in the old scam again: "we are redeemed from the punishment of our sin, but not from the act of it."

How if those who are called Ranters* had told me this tale, it would be typical; but when doctors of divinity tell us this tale, it is so unlike divinity, that it is carnal, sensual, and devilish to tell believers they are redeemed from the punishment of sin, but not from the act of sin; that this is the benefit which we receive from Christ's sufferings; that we may keep sinning without cost; that there is no guilt contracted by it; will any man or woman, that understand they have a soul, venture their immortal souls on this divinity? I hope not. They will not venture their soul on this foundation-doctrine. I hope God will awaken the consciences of people, that they will not hazard their souls upon such a carnal, devilish foundation; that if the devil should preach, he could not preach a worse doctrine than this, to persuade Christians they may live in sin, and sin will not hurt them, nor impair or break their peace with God, and reconciliation with him.

[*Ranters believed that Christ had freed them from the law and so they were free to commit any sin defined by the law without guilt. To most of Christendom in the 17th Century, this was a radical belief. The Ranters engaged in drunkenness and adultery openly while claiming to be sons of God entitled to their freedom. Most of the Ranters were converted to become Quakers, seeing the error of their way. Notice the similarity of Ranters to today's Christendom, who think all the law is dead, (except for tithing, insisting on your money), and grace excuses their life-long sin; when the reality is that the moral laws of love and behavior are still very much alive and require obedience, while tithing, sabbaths, foods, days, etc., are dead. Christendom has thus deteriorated to have made the blood of Jesus and unholy thing, breaking the everlasting covenant, doing spite to the Spirit of Grace, and trampling under foot the son of God. Today the retribution for this abomination looms not far.]

I will tell you how it has been with me. In my childhood if I had spoken a vain word, or a false word, I had contracted such a guilt by it, that I was ashamed to draw near to God or to pray to him; I knew he would not hear liars, I knew there was no way to be accepted without repentance and amendment of life. I believe others have met with the same dealing from God, by the secret strokes of conviction that have come upon their hearts, when they have sinned against God.

So that I am still of the mind, that the persons who depend upon this kind of doctrine, do at times [doubt their beliefs], especially when sickness comes, and death looks them in the face, or in times of common contagion or pestilence, at such a time they have a weight of guilt upon their consciences; for this doctrine will not support them at death, when then they believe they have contracted guilt, or committed sin.

I have wished many times that the Lord would open the eyes and hearts of the people of this city and of this nation, to see how miserably they have ventured their souls. Will merchants in this city ever venture their goods at such a rate as men commonly venture their souls? What, will they venture their goods in a ship without a bottom, before she goes to sea? Now this doctrine does not have a foundation; shall I believe a person that tells me I do not contract guilt, when I feel it upon my heart; when I commit whoredom and drunkenness, and cheat my neighbors, shall any one persuade me that I do not contract guilt?

O friends! We are speaking of great matters; it is about eternity, that we are speaking, it is about the hazard of eternal happiness; therefore I pray, let every one be serious, and consider what I say, for I speak in God's name, and on your behalf. Men must come to a true search in themselves regarding the way of life in which they live. Many support themselves by the doctrines and precepts of  men, and they buoy themselves into presumption of salvation. Let them examine whether it is a life that has its support from the Spirit of God; this is material for every one to consider. There are none who can live to God, but by the life they receive from God; the grace of God, which brings salvation has appeared to all men. Now here is a universal doctrine.

There is a sort of men in this city and nation who tell us that saving grace is given only to the elect. Saving grace is given to all men; but you must construe those words, all the elect, where they are somewhat injurious, and would cast off the condition of the text, if they make a distinction in the latter part of the sentence, for it will not be good sense. The grace of God that brings salvation, has appeared to all the elect, teaching us to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts.  Here is us taken out of the all. The same grace, that is our teacher, appears to be the teacher of others, though they turn it into lasciviousness [a license for lusts]. The grace is the same, though they make many school-distinctions between common and saving grace. The apostle explains it, by telling what grace he means; the grace of God, which brings salvation, has appeared to all men, and that is by teaching us; what does it teach? I pray consider it; it teaches us to deny all ungodliness and all worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. Where is sin now, if a man is taught by this grace, and the dictates of it. Can a man live in sin, and yet live righteously, soberly and godly too? Can a man live in sin, and yet deny all ungodliness at the same time? Where have men's understanding been, that cannot understand their mother tongue, and consider sense? Where are men's understandings that will say, I may deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and yet follow the lusts of my own heart? You would think I speak nonsense if I should speak thus; and yet we have been put off with such nonsensical fluff as this. We must pray to God to send his Holy Spirit into our hearts to enable us to live godly, righteous, and sober lives, and at the same time believe that we shall never do it; but that it is a business of impossibility.

Now when men come to say these things together, and when they consider between God and their own souls, how it is with them, many are amazed to think they should ever be put off with such incongruous, disagreeing, and dissonant things that are not consistent with one another.

But do you think it is possible for any man to live without sin? Yes, or else I would say it is impossible for any to be reconciled to God; for God will never be reconciled to sinners, as such; for his bargain and covenant is made of such kind of articles: wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes, cease to do evil; learn to do well, etc. Then come and let us reason together, said the Lord; though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:16-17;  still these are the terms, put away the evil of your doings, then patience, mercy and long-suffering, shall be extended to you. God will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withheld; what, from those who say their prayers, or go to the church or meeting? No, but no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psa 84:11.These are the men that will receive grace.

And when the Lord distinguishes by his prophet whom he would have among them; he speaks of a sort of people that called upon the name of the Lord; those who feared the Lord, and spoke often one to another; that is, of the goodness of God; they were a sort of people that trembled at the word of God; a sort of people that did not do as others did: hunt after pleasures, riches, and the honors of the world, but to be acquainted with the inward word that wrought upon their hearts; in that day that I make up my jewels, they shall be mine, said the Lord. Whose shall the others be? You will claim these for yours, but whose shall the others be: those who think not upon your name, and tremble not at your word? There is a place for them too. Tophet is prepared of old, made both wide and large; the fuel thereof is fire and brimstone, and much wood, and the breath of the Lord kindles it. This is for all that are wicked, and that work iniquity.

This is in the Old Testament; then comes the New Testament, in John’s Revelation; there is a separation again. There is a sort of people that are called the true worshippers, and the angel was commanded to go and measure the temple, and those who worshipped therein. The outward temple was not measured, but left for the Gentiles to tread in, and left without the measure; for without are dogs and sorcerers,* and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and makes a lie. And then the Lord speaks to his prophets in the Old Testament again, if you put a difference between the precious and the vile, then you shall be as my mouth unto them; but if you huddle them altogether, and sew pillows under elbows, then you shall not be as my mouth.

[*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.]

So that in all ages God aimed at a separation of the state and condition of his people; and one sort of people were purified, through the sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth; and another sort were unsanctified and unpurified, and remained in their sin; and the end of Christ's coming into the world, it was to call people to repentance. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, and to leave off their sin. To as many as received him, to them, he gave power to become the sons of God, to as many as believed on his name. Whose sons were the other? They made as high a noise of profession as the other. He tells them who is their father: you are of your father the devil; and he precisely proved it, by the following reason: that they did the devil's works, therefore, they were the devil's children. It was Christ himself, the greatest doctor of divinity who ever was in the world, who spoke these words. And this is the manner of logic by which he argues with the Pharisees, to make them believe that they were the devil's children; those who do the devil's works are the devil's children; but you do his works, therefore you are his children; so they sought to kill him, they could not bear such arguments.

If one should go and search out a people in this city and nation, and see one man of this religion, another of that religion, and pick them out, and use this argument with them: there is a man who professes high, he professes a light within; if you look upon his deeds they are dead and dark, why then he is one of the devil's children? If you put me to prove this, I say because he does the devil’s works; he is an extortionist, a deceiver, a drunkard, an unclean person, and does the devil's works, and so is none of God's children. And so go to another sort and use this argument; it is safe enough, you can never fail in this kind of argument which Christ used; and if people would use it with themselves, and think themselves no better, then we should have people confess themselves to be the devil's children.

None come to be God's children, until they come to acknowledge their lost estate, their deplorable condition; that they are fallen from God, and through sin and iniquity have gotten into a nature that is at enmity with God. Then they will cry out, who shall deliver me from this body of death, and childship of Satan, this heirship of wrath? I am an heir of an inheritance; I am an heir of wrath, and I would willingly part with this inheritance and heirship, and have an inheritance with the saints in light. We shall never know this, until we come to divinity without sophistry, and without tricks and quirks, and come to Christ's reasoning. He who does the devil's work is the devil's child; then they will confess this is of the devil, and the other is of the devil. This is an evil work; and I see that I have need to be brought into another condition.

When people come to an acknowledgment of the truth, and of their own condemnation, then they are one step towards redemption and salvation. No one ever took a step towards their salvation, until they acknowledged their own condemnation. He that sanctifies, and those who are sanctified, are all of one; and those who are joined to the Lord, are one Spirit. An evil tree, said Christ, cannot bring forth good fruit. When Christ spoke this, he spoke it to men and women, and he spoke it of men and women, and not of trees. And when he said no man can gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles, he speaks of a generation of men. As if he had said, this thorn must be translated and changed into another nature before it can bring forth grapes; and this thistle must be changed into another nature before it can bring forth figs.

There must be a change in the nature of man before there can be a change of the fruit and effect of his doings; whatever he sows, that he shall also reap; whatever a man does in the body, he must give an account of it at the day of judgment; for the books will he opened, and men judged according to the things written in those books. If there is a book for you and me, I will warrant you there is a great deal in it; there is a recorder and a clerk for the book, which God has opened in every man's conscience; and there is set down every man's transgressions and his sins. Said one, you have written my transgressions as with the point of a diamond; you have engraved it so deep, that it seems impossible that it should ever be blotted out again. Some have had their sins so deeply engraved in their conscience, that they have thought they would never be blotted out; they were written as with the pen of a diamond.

When people see and consider that they have ventured their souls upon such shaky grounds, I hope they will be awakened to seek after righteousness; when they see there is nothing good in them. Where there is anything good, it is God that has given it to them. Some will say, if I am perverse, corrupt and wicked, I cannot help it, therefore I must be beholden to my Maker to help me, else I must never be helped. Now, because God knows that we are helpless, he has laid help upon one that is mighty, that is, our Lord Jesus Christ, and Christ has sent forth his Spirit into the world to convince the world of sin, and to lead his people into all truth. And this grace that comes by Jesus Christ has been so universally shown, and so universally extended to all men, that I never met with a man yet who had none of it. But let them be as bad and as dark as they could, yet the light of Christ shined in that darkness, into the darkest heart, that ever I met with in all my life. He shows men, that his light shines in darkness, and the darkness cannot comprehend it.

Therefore the work that God has set us about, and the service which he requires at the hands of many of us, is to turn men from their own darkness unto the light of Christ their Savior, and from the devil's power, that has enslaved them, to the power of God that can redeem them; and yet we are far enough from what they call free will; it is God's will that every one should be saved. But some will not be saved; they will keep their own wills and not resign them up to God; they have a free will to go to destruction. As for salvation, if they will obtain it, they must part with their own wills, and they must take a yoke and burden upon them, before they can be saved. If people can have their wills, they will not take Christ's yoke upon them. He who will be Christ's disciple must deny his own will and take up his daily cross; these are the terms of the gospel.

But you will say, no man, by all the power he has, can redeem himself, and no man can live without sin. We will say amen to that. But if men tell us, that when Gods power comes to help us, and to redeem us out of sin, that it cannot be effected, then we must deny such a doctrine, and I hope you do the same.  Would you approve of it if I should tell you, that God puts forth his power to do such a thing, but the devil hinders him? That it is impossible for God to do it, because the devil does not like it? That it is impossible that any one should be free from sin, because the devil has got such a power in them, that God cannot cast him out?

This is lamentable doctrine. Has not this been preached, this doctrine of impossibility of living without sin? It does in plain terms say, though God does interpose his power, it is impossible because the devil has so rooted sin in the nature of man. Is not man God's creature, and cannot he newly make him, and cast sin out of him? If you say sin is rooted deeply in man, I say so too, yet not so deeply rooted but that Christ Jesus is entered so deeply into the root of the nature of man, and he has received power to destroy the devil and his works, and to recover and redeem man into his primitive nature of righteousness and holiness; or else it is false, that he is able to save, to the uttermost all that come unto God by him; and we must throw away the bible, if we say that it is impossible for God to deliver man out of sin. Is not Christ entered into the root of our nature? And has he not taken upon him the seed of Abraham, after the flesh? Has he not entered into the root of all men's natures, and tasted death for every man that he might quicken every one that is dead in sins and trespasses? All these things speak the love of God to mankind, in order to their salvation.

Much might be said to these things, these clouds of error and darkness that have overspread the nation; yet, this I say: if one were to speak of it ever so long, it must be by the eye that God gives you, that you must see it. It is he who opens the hearts of men as he did Lydia's. If there had not been the power of God that reached her heart, Paul could not have opened it.

When all is said that can be said, the counsel of God which has sounded in your ears, is recommended to you, that everyone may retire in quietness and stillness of mind to wait for the feeling of that quickening power of the Spirit of Christ that is sent into the hearts of men; that it may open your eyes to see your present state. Then you will see a better state, a further state; and when you see with your inward eye that your state is not so good as you would have it to be, then trust and rely upon the all sufficient and powerful operation of God's Holy Spirit to mend your state, and give you power over your corruptions, and to go on from one step to another, towards the cleansing and sanctification of your souls, so that you may receive something from God to enable you to live to God. For all that you receive from men will only make you live to men, but what you receive from God, will help you to live to God; that will purify you and sanctify you, and make you clean through the word. So through the word you will come to cleanness, purity and holiness. And when you have come to the way of holiness, you may believe you have found the way to God's kingdom, and never until then.

It is not enough to make a profession, but we must live up to the profession of that religion that we make; it is not holding this tenet and the other tenet, and saying, this minister, I am sure, preaches the truth; you may be a child of the devil for all that. I now speak indifferently to all people, without respect to any sort. Those who believe they are walking towards the kingdom of God, and yet their way is not a holy way, they have cheated themselves, and deceived their own souls, and they had better look about them and take heed what they do. The clock is ticking, and time is fading away, and our life may end we know not how soon. It is good to prize and improve time, while you have it, and bring your deeds to the light; see what reproofs, instructions, counsels and openings you have met with from the Lord, and see how you have answered and been obedient to them, and so you will come to take a sound and infallible account of your condition; and if it is not as good as it should be, wait upon the Lord to mend it; he who made you, can mend you; he who made your ears, must unstop your ears to hear the word of God.

To that power that carries on the works of sanctification and redemption by his word, to that word I must leave you, and to his spirit I commit you. This word will be with you, and if you part not with it, it will not part with you; it will go with you to your houses, and to your shops, and to your beds; it will lie down with you at night, and rise with you in the morning. To that end, Christ is a leader and governor, and the captain of our salvation, to lead the van, and carry you on in the way of salvation; and as many as follow Christ, and are led by the spirit of God, they are the children of God.

SERMON XXV

The Sheep of Christ Hear His Voice

Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Devonshire-House May 10, 1688

The true shepherd said: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

THE sheep of the true fold hear and know the voice of Christ, the good shepherd, and hear the voice of strangers too. But, said he, the stranger they will not follow. This scripture has been a mark of distinction in all ages that has been peculiarity bestowed upon the people of God, that they have had a discerning knowledge to make a certain distinction between those who were of God, and those who were of the world. Now those who are of God hear us, said the apostle.

Now, that you may all find in yourselves this peculiar gift of God, to be able to understand and discern between the precious and the vile, that you might know the ministration of life from the ministration of death, you must all be gathered inwardly into what you have received of God; for those who are only exercised with gifts and parts, and acquirements that appertain to this world, they have been always subject to delusions, apt to be led away into a bypath and crooked way, that leads to destruction. But those who are under the government and direction of the gift of God, they have been able thereby to make such a distinction of voices, and of sounds, that they have been preserved from the delusions of the age.

This was the difference of old between the prophets of God and the false prophets, between the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the false apostles; the difference was not so much in their words, for they had in a great measure the same words. If the true prophets used to say, thus said the Lord, the false prophets would say so too. If the true prophets declared against sin, the false prophets likewise would do so for the false prophet stole his word from his neighbor. But the greater matter by which the people of the Lord were preserved, was, that hidden and divine wisdom they received of God, by which they discerned the voice of the spirit from the voice of strangers, from the voice of those who were of the flesh; and that was the cause that the Christians in the primitive days did not adhere to, and follow those false apostles that came to them in their own names, and held a form of godliness, but denied the power of it.

But they among them in whom their witchcrafts did enter, they went away from the spirit, and sought to be made perfection the flesh; they went to the outward observation, and to the beggarly rudiments of things that perish with the using and from the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

And as it has been in those ages of which we have read, so it comes to pass in this our age, in which a dispensation of the spirit of truth is manifested and revealed unto the children of men; there is a remnant that have received the testimony of eternal life, and have believed the testimony, and waited on him of whom the testimony is born, not to have life by the testimony, but to have life in him; so they receive their life by the ministration of the Spirit of Christ, and they live to God. Others who have received no life from him, but have a life in the words, and sounds, and noises and terms, and distinguishing phrases of things; their life lies there, and they live not to God, but to themselves. Their glorying is not in the cross of Christ, but in the words and outside of things. So every one had need, at such a time as this, to approve their hearts unto the Lord, who knows the inside of people's profession, the inside of their religion, that knows how the heart is concerned towards God, and what they say and do upon the account of his service; so that all that are met together might come to receive more and more of the life and virtue that sanctifies the soul of him who receives it.

For, alas! my friends, it is not the gathering together of the most excellent words about religion, and about worship and service, which will approve any man in the sight of God; that is only the painting of a sepulcher, and covering the rottenness that is in many; but the Lord sees into the inside of every professor. Whoever names the name of Christ and does not depart from iniquity, they only take his name in vain, and contract a guilt upon their own souls. So that every one who seems to be religious, ought to inquire from where their profession springs; if it springs from a real profession of a measure of what sanctifies the Life, and shows itself forth, in its working and operation, many times abundantly more, than it does in word and profession; it manifests itself in holiness and righteousness, to the honor of God. It is the aim and design of all such to exalt the name of him whom they profess, by holiness and righteousness shining forth in their works, for it will never shine through words alone; many good words may be spoken, yet God not glorified, but his name may be dishonored by them; but whoever comes to feel what is life in themselves, they know what will honor God; they feel the birth immortal that is of God, of his own begetting by the word of truth.

This living birth is what brings forth living praises; the other is but flesh, that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and it glorifies the flesh, and when the flesh is most of all glorified, most of all exalted, it is then but as the flower of the field; it is then cut down and withers. The sun of righteousness shines with the beams of the everlasting glory of God, and causes it to wither and come to nothing.

So friends, let your minds be gathered inward, that you may be able in your own selves, by virtue of the divine gift of God, to distinguish between the voice of the true shepherd, and the voice of a stranger, so that your minds may not fellow a strange voice. So that you may follow the Lord with your whole heart, with a full purpose of heart; for there is a real word of prophecy discovered in the inward parts, which does distinguish between the precious and the vile in every one's particular; and what is precious in one, it answers to what is precious in another; and what is vile in one, it answers to what is vile in another.

For there is an inward and secret mystery of iniquity, as well as a mystery of godliness. The mystery of godliness is when God is manifested in the flesh; the mystery of iniquity is, when the wicked one is making himself manifest, and appears and shows himself in the flesh, that he may rise up and glory in the flesh.

Now the eternal truth, which never changes, this is what gives a discerning that has always put a difference between the true and false prophets, the true and false apostles, and between the true and false ministers. The difference has not been so much in words as in power. As the apostle speaks concerning some in his days, who had endeavored to deceive and to draw men aside from the simplicity of the gospel: when I come, said he, I will know. Now, he does not assert, that he will pay particular attention to their words, whether they were judicious or not; for he says, I will not know their words, but their power. How should he know their power if he were not in the power himself? Now this divine power, as every one acquaints himself with it, it works unto the sanctification of them, when they have fellowship with the stirrings and movings of all others that are partakers of it. This is what will establish and confirm your minds in the true faith and simplicity of the truth, so that you do not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. If you have regard to the principle of divine truth that you have received from God, then you can receive confirmation from any one that has a measure according to it. There is a measuring line and the reed of the sanctuary that measures the temple and all that dwell therein; that measures them with one reed and one measure, and everyone answers to that measure, according to the stature and degree of growth of the grace of God they arrive to; and now they are come to a fixed foundation.

Others there are in the world, that have laid their foundation upon this creaturely help, and the other creaturely help, upon this man, and the other man; but now true Christians come to have their foundation, their rooting and building upon Christ Jesus, upon that word of life that first of all gathered their minds into a desire after holiness, into a desire after acquaintance with God that made them.

You that are true Christians can remember how you were begotten, and what did beget you; that word of God that is incorruptible, that is immortal, that was not of a dying quality, that need not be supported by this, and that, and the other means, but it has its support in itself, it has its nourishment in itself, and it grows up in itself, and everyone that receives it they grow up in it, until they come more and more to partake of the life and qualities of it; that as he is, so they may be in the present world.

But this is never known, but where the word of God has its free passage. Many have tasted of this word of God, and by tasting of it, have been acquainted with the power of the world to come; they knew well enough the power that would bring forth another world, a new Heaven and a new earth, and righteousness in it. Many have felt the power that have never continued to see the working of it, never continued to see and witness what this power would work; going aside from the power of the world that was to come, they have never seen the coming of it, but their foolish hearts have been darkened again, and their imaginations have grown vain, and they have conceived to themselves a false liberty to the flesh, and their wills have been strong, and have prevailed over them; that though they had tasted of the powers that did belong to the world to come, they never saw the working and operation of that power to bring to pass what by sight and vision they did behold.

Therefore it' is needful for every one of you, in every state and condition the Lord has brought you into, to keep yourselves in a deep humility; to know the afflictions, temptations and trials you are under, and to exercise your minds, not only on account of what you have got over, but let every one know the state and condition in which at present they are laboring; for when some come to look at what sufferings and difficulties they have got over, they are apt to be exalted above measure, and lifted up in their minds; let every one consider what is their present state and work, their help lies in that condition. Some have always a foundation of their faith present with them, that they may feel the object of their faith where they hope for help, where they hope for comfort and strength to be present with them.

Now every one that believes in the word of God, their care is, that they may know this word of God, that they may hear it, feel it, and behold the beauty of it under the exercises of it; how it conducts and leads, how it counsels and advises, that so, in all things they are to pass through, they may not be as those who have run into it; as those who do this and that of their own wills, but may be properly followers of something.

Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice. John 18:37

I go into this, or that, or the other thing, not to do mine own will; I do not run into it, but I am led into it. My leader goes before me, the word of God, that has conducted me and led me. I am a follower of God in all his dispensations, and in all his leadings and guidances; I am to follow him, for he teaches me his way, he instructs me in the true way. The best of all his scholars and disciples are to be led and guided into that work and service they are to do, that they may run into no irregularity or absurdity, for he will lead you into holiness, righteousness and humility, where all become the servants of God in Christ Jesus, and servants to one another. There is a mutual concord and harmony in the work of this spirit, in the service of this power, where every one finds what they are appointed and directed to, and all the members of the body of Christ know they ought not to be disjointed and rent, and separated one from another, but tied together in joints and bands, to edify one another in the love of God; so that here is one spirit that has been the guide of this one people in all ages.

Many people have been guided by many guides, and they have been scattered, divided and separated one from another, and have been under this, that and the other name; but all God's people have been guided by the Spirit of Christ, that universal Spirit that is one with God. In the Old Testament times, and the New Testament times, they were all led by the universal Spirit of Christ, and they were of one heart, and of one mind, serving the Lord. There was a concord and unity among them; and if at any time any discord or division happened, it was because the roaring lion that goes about continually seeking whom he may devour, had found some or other that he might devour, and draw into his snares and traps; for there are some that he may, and some that he may not. Whose are those who this roaring lion may destroy? The devil knows who those are that he may prevail upon; he knows that those which are in the hands of God are out of his reach. My Father, said Christ, is greater than all, and none fall pluck them out of my Father' s hands; yet doubtless those who are in the Father's hands are tempted and tried, the roaring lion goes about seeking to devour them if he might; a man that he devours, he swallows up with prejudice, enmity, covetousness and pride, and he will lead him into any evil thing; he has many gulps to swallow men up in, but if he meets with one that is kept in God's hands, he knows such a one is out of his reach, and he is not able to catch him.

If he meets with a man that he can prevail over, as he did over our father Adam and mother Eve, such as are in their own hands, that stand upon their wit and parts, and knowledge and eloquence. Those who stand upon these things as their foundation, they are in their own keeping. These are the ones whom he may devour and catch, and ensnare in one or other of his traps, and swallow them up in one of his gulps and temptations. But seeing God has opened and manifested these things by his Spirit, and seeing the secret wiles of Satan are discovered and made known by the shining of his light, how ought every one that is a believer of the truth, to depend upon God for his protection, and be careful that he goes not out of his Father's hands, that he never trusts himself to his own keeping for his security and preservation, lest he meet with a temptation that may swallow him and devour him.

I remember our Lord Jesus Christ when he was upon earth, he put his disciples in mind of what happened long before, remember Lot's wife. You may take notice of her; the power of God took hold of her and brought her out of Sodom, and was leading her to a place of safety, but she had something of Adam’s apostasy in her nature, she looked back, and was turned into a pillar of salt. Our Savior was pleased to make use of this passage that happened some hundreds of years before, to show how she failed of coming to the place of safety, though she was led out of Sodom by the hands of one of the angels of God. O! Remember her; she was turned into a pillar of salt, and this remains instructive to this day.

If we remember where our safety is, and from whose hands we must expect it, we need not go to look at Lot's wife. We have seen many in our days that have stood fair for redemption. They have had a power revealed to them, that is able to redeem them, and save them to the uttermost; but afterward by exalting themselves above this power, and taking the government of themselves into their own hands, they have robbed God of his glory, and he has withdrawn himself from them, and then it was with them as with Saul; when the Lord departed from him, the evil spirit entered into him.

We have before our eyes from day to day, those who have known the beginning of the redemption of God's power, and have been in a great measure brought out of Sodom, and out of the way of Egypt, and they have had opened to them the mystery of the kingdom of God for their encouragement, but at last they have taken and arrogated those gifts to themselves, and looking upon themselves as far excelling others, magnifying their parts as if they were their own, when they were the gifts of God. Then the Lord has left them, to let them see whether they could stand of themselves, and they have fallen, and been taken in the traps and snares of the devil, who, like a roaring lion is going about continually seeking whom he may devour.

Now, my friends, it greatly concerns us all to know what refuge we have to flee to, in a time of trial; we have a time of trial now, though not a time of external suffering and persecution, and enduring hardship yet upon us, to try our faith and trust in God; yet we have no reason to be secure, careless nor remiss in our present duty, nor to put the evil day far from us, but to be in the exercise of humility and watchfulness as becomes Christians; for there is now as much danger and peril in this time of liberty and tranquility, as there was before.

If anyone in the time of persecution and suffering has said within himself, I had better give over and part with the truth, and forsake the ways of the Lord, and give over my testimony for his name, for I shall be undone and ruined in the world, this man by his carnal fears has lost his testimony.

So likewise, if a man in this time of liberty and freedom of serving the Lord, and bearing testimony to his name, if he shall not entirely trust in the Lord, to carry him on in his work and service, and continue his dependence upon him, and wait for the assistance of the Holy Spirit of God to work in him to will and to do of his good pleasure; this man shall lose his testimony, as well as the other. Therefore, let every one of you keep up a dependence upon God's Holy Spirit for carrying on the work which he has begun in your souls. Consider what work it is that Christ is now at in every one of you. I know what his work was when I was first convinced; he was burning up and hewing down everything that hindered his carrying on the work of sanctification and redemption, and firmness and stability in the covenant of life and peace.

And now our meeting together ought to be in the name of Christ. I hope it is so with most of you. I hope it is not to see and hear what this or that man says, but to know within yourselves what part of the work of redemption the Lord Jesus Christ is carrying on, that you may join with him, and be a willing people in the day of his power, and say as Paul: Lord, what will you have me do? If you will have me part with everything, Lord here it is, I offer it up; and if you will have any service done; Lord here I am, speak, for your servant hears. Let there be in every one of you an attentiveness, and a humble waiting upon the Lord, and say as the Psalmist: behold, as the eyes servants look unto the hands of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hands of her mistress, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God until he has mercy upon us.

Whenever a Christian has his dependence upon God's wisdom and power, such a one shall never lack wisdom; the Lord will give him wisdom to preserve him against all the wiles of Satan; and he shall never lack power, for the Lord will enable him to fulfill and perform what he required of him. He shall be replenished with judgment and understanding, ability and power, to direct him into the good ways of God, and to enable him to walk in them.

It is the earnest desire of my soul, that every one of you may be exercised in those things which are profitable for you, and which may be comfortable to your friends and brethren; that you may all grow up into a stability and steadfastness in the good ways of the Lord, that you may not be shaken and tossed with every storm and tempest; that when there comes a time for the trial of your patience, and fortitude and courage, you may not be tossed to and fro like children, but be steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, that so living in all holy obedience and patience, and continuing in well-doing, you may have a constant supply of strength and power from God ministered unto you by his Holy Spirit.

SERMON XXVI

No True Worship without the Right Knowledge of God

Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Grace-Church-Street, May 24, 1688

My Friends,

THERE is no man can truly worship God, until he comes to a measure of certain knowledge of him; for all the worship in the world where the veil of ignorance still prevails upon the mind, is all abominable; there is no acceptance with God. There must be a knowledge of God before there can be a true worshipping of him; for those who worship before they know God, they worship they no not what. They worship a God they have heard of, but do not know; so every one that would be a true worshipper, must first; come to what gives a true knowledge, that raises up a certainty in the mind that this is the Lord, we will trust in him; this is our God, and we will serve him.

[To read about God in the Bible, and to hear others talk about God, is not to know God. God is known by revelation, by him revealing himself to you, in your heart, by his teachings from the word in your heart and his light's revealings: Because that which may be known of God is revealed in them; for God has shown it to them. Rom 1:19. The Father is revealed by the Son, to whom the Son chooses. Likewise, no one knows Jesus, except by revelation. Likewise, no one knows the mystery of the gospel, except by revelation from God to an individual. Likewise, faith is received when you experience the power of God by revelation.]

And that all people might come to this certainty of knowledge, therefore it is that God has sent forth his Spirit, so that the things of God might be communicated by the Spirit of God, for without the assistance of this Spirit, men seek after the knowledge of God in vain. If they seek after the knowledge of God, they cannot find it, and if they seek after the worship of God, and seek after acceptance with God, they cannot find it. So that all religion, and religious performances, in which the people are exercised, where the spirit of truth does not have the beginning, will all prove fruitless in the end.

There are wise men in the world that have employed their wisdom to find out the true God; but God in wisdom has ordained that the world by all their wisdom shall not know him. For there is an end of all their labor. How shall they know him then? As none can know the things of a man, save the spirit of man that is in him, so none can know the things of God, but the Spirit of God; so that those who resist the guidance, direction and counsel of the Spirit of God, are like unto those who desire to enter into a house or palace, and not remember the door that leads into it.

People would willingly come into the divine knowledge and into the understanding of divine mysteries, but they try to come by it another way. They would study for it, they would learn it by arts and sciences, they would attain it by their own industry, and in this they labor to excel one another. If a man comes among such seekers, who tells them: "friends you are all out of the way," then they are angry; and instead of inquiring what is the way, they are angry that their way must be rejected. Friends, you will never come to the knowledge of God unless by the Spirit of God; then they mock, and then they scoff and scorn the doctrine of the Spirit, for the teaching of the Spirit has been the common scorn and derision of our age.

It is so in our day with many; if they cannot come to the knowledge of God any other way but by the Spirit, they would deny making use of that, to be subject to that. These put their trust in their own power and industry to find out the mystery of the knowledge of God; so they are ever learning, but are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. How could they? How can a people come to a knowledge of the truth, without the spirit of truth that reveals it? Can any come to the knowledge of Christ; unless he that sent him reveals him? Where are the people's books? Where are their bibles? Where is their rule, (they call it so), that all their endeavors for many ages have proved fruitless in respect to the knowledge of God?

This is only your opinion, some may say; how does it appear that we have not attained to the true knowledge of God? And to the true worship, and to the true religion?

I will tell you how it appears; for all, in all ages, those who have attained to the knowledge of God have been made partakers of his divine nature and his divine qualities; they have brought forth a sort of fruit in their lives and conversations that has been of the same nature, it has been holy and divine. They have known the sanctifier, and they have been a sanctified people, so they have become one with him, and have shown forth the beauty of holiness in their lives, which is a demonstration that may show the knowledge of God. For without the true knowledge of God, they live another life; an unholy one, a corrupt one, a life of self-love, a life of pride, vanity and enmity, and all had not come from God, but from another root, a life of iniquity and sin; it came from another seed, so that they are still without the knowledge of God.

And again, all that have come to the knowledge of God, they have trusted in him; that people cannot do now days, except here and there a few that do know him; the generality of the age they cannot trust God; they must have something else to rely upon, and trust in, for in him they cannot trust. Now the Lord said by the prophet of old, those who know my name will trust in me; that is enough if people know God, whom to know is eternal life; even to know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. This is life eternal; if people were come to this divine knowledge, they would never take care or study for any refuge, or set up this, or that, or the other thing to lean upon. A rich man trusts in his riches. One trusts to one thing and another to another, but they would trust in the living God, and he should be their God and their rock, and they would venture their concerns upon him, both in this world and what is to come, if they only knew him. People may talk as much as they will, but he can never, properly, be said to be my God, and your God, until we cast our care upon him, and can venture our concerns upon him, both in this world and what is to come; and can say, he is our God, and our reliance and dependence is upon him.

[No one can know God, unless the hear his voice and obey him. Listen to and obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk completely in the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well to you. Jer 7:23.]

Now this is the effect and consequence of this knowledge of God; such as come to partake of it, they shall have no need to be told to worship him. You shall have no need to make a law, that this people shall worship the God that they know; there needs no law to command the people of God to worship him; his law is written in their hearts, and those who know him, will worship him. There was never any man on earth, who had the knowledge of the true and living God, who needed to pressured to worship him, who needed a law to oblige him to it; for the very knowledge that is given of God through Christ, this brings forth naturally an adoration of the invisible power which men put their trust in; it produces an adoration that is true worship; it causes a humble reverence of that power. It brings the soul upon its knees, as it were; it brings the soul to stoop and bend, and bow upon all occasions to God, as his God. It raises his expectations to receive counsel, and judgment, and understanding, from him, as the fountain of wisdom; and by this people are taught to worship in the right divine knowledge.

But to tell men of the worship of God before they know him; though you make as many laws as you will to force them to worship that God they do not know, yet you can never do them any good, nor make their worship acceptable, nor make them devout; you can never bring devotion, nor divine adoration into their hearts, by all the laws that you can make.

But there is a spirit of life that sets the soul at liberty from its former bondage to sin and Satan; and when this law comes to be revealed in my heart, what does this law say? Worship God, give honor and glory to him. This law says, submit yourself to him who redeemed you, you are his, you are no more your own; this law being written in the heart obliges a man to a true worship, and to worship God in spirit and truth for this man has done imagining among the Heathen, that there are many Gods many, and many Lords. He has done imagining what God is, and where he is, for he has now come to know him; he is instructed beyond the best scholar in Athens, let him be ever so poor and despicable in the world; if it is ever so poor a lad or lass, they are beyond the best scholar in Athens; for the best scholar there came only so far as to contradict their fellow scholars. Some of them were for Mars and some for Jupiter, some for one God and some for another. These scholars, by some beam of divine light shining in them, had come to perceive that the influences that were in Mars, Jupiter and Venus, and the sun and moon, and other planets, they received them from a higher power, that is, God. They did not deny that these planets had power and influences given to them; sometimes they are called heavenly bodies; the sky, or canopy of Heaven, and sun, moon and stars are called heavenly bodies, they have power and influences; but this was given them, and that power must be greater than theirs from whom they receive their power, virtue and influence, even that God who is the maker of all things. The scholars at Athens understood so much, as to see there was a God greater than the planets which the nations worshipped; they thought that God was to have an altar as well as Jupiter and Mars, and those other Gods, and therefore they built an altar to the unknown God, whom they ignorantly worshipped.

If you and I have come to the knowledge of the true God, then we must know more than these scholars of Athens, who erected an altar to the unknown God. When the apostle came to preach divinity among these scholars of Athens, who were masters of arts and sciences, he preached to them, saying, that unknown God, whom you ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. We do not need to declare to you the Gods of the nations, for you worship them, but to declare to you the unknown God whom you ignorantly worship; these were the great scholars of Athens that the apostle spoke to. What do you declare of God? He is the God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of Heaven and Earth, and dwells not in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any things seeing he gives to all life and breath, and all things, and has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell upon the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitations, that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he is not far from every one of us; for in him we live move have our being; for as certain also of your own poets have said, for we are also his offspring; for as much then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone graven by art and man's device.

Here is away of learning so that you need not turn to books any more. If I would know the true God, I must know who gave me life and motion, and who created me, he is not far from me; and how should I find the knowledge of him? Feel after him, if haply you may find him; for he is not far from any of us; in him we live and move, and have our being; we cannot live without him one moment; he gives life, essence, and power, to all creatures in Heaven and Earth; we must have him with us, or we cannot live. I die as soon as my life departs from me, so do you. If my breath and life continue with me, it is by the power of him who gives it, in whom I live, and move, and have my being; still it is in him who first gave it.

Here all the great scholars and philosophers were counseled to feel after him; so are all people now days. This is our business, when we go to preach the knowledge of God to those who lack it; our commission runs not, that we must read such a book, such an author, and turn to such a page, and there you shall have a discovery, and a fair demonstration of the attributes of God: of his wisdom, power, goodness, mercy, omnipotence and omniscience. Our commission does not run that way, but our commission runs thus: that we turn people from darkness to light; and from the power of Satan to God; to turn their minds from what may hinder the knowledge of Christ, from darkness, blindness and ignorance; God is not far from them; perhaps they might find him, if they would seek after him.

There are a sort of men now days, (such as were in former times), who say unto God, "depart from us, we do not desire the knowledge of your ways;" such a sort of people are dark, and blind and ignorant, and are likely to continue so, who say to God, "depart from us;" God is come to them, but they tell him depart from them. We are sent to these people that are dark and ignorant, and do not have the true knowledge of God, though they have abundance of notions, hearsay knowledge, learning and speculation; our business is to convince them of their ignorance and to turn them from darkness to light.

There are a people who have mocked and scoffed at us many years. "What," they say, "is there a light within? Must we go to the light within? Does everybody have a light within?"

Yes, I believe so; and you must believe so too, if you will believe the scriptures. Christ is the true light, and he has enlightened every man that comes into the world. If he did light them, how did he do it? "I will tell you," they say; "he spoke a great many gracious words, and somebody has written them down." What, will this prove to be the light within? Because we have obtained a New Testament, and because Christ has spoken a great many gracious words that are written down and recorded, does this prove the light within? No, people might have been in darkness still, for all the books of the New Testament, and the Old Testament too, and for all the books in the world; for they would never have conveyed light into the hearts and consciences of men, if God had not placed it there.

Indeed these books may be instrumental, and God does make use of them as a means for the conveying of light and grace, and working of true conversion; but the holy scriptures cannot do it themselves, unless there be a co-acting and cooperation of the Spirit of Christ with them; without this spirit they cannot convey saving light to us; then how do you prove a Light within? The apostle tells you, if you will believe him, 2 Cor 4:6, God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ; so that every one who retires into himself, will know quickly, and understand his error, and confess that there is a light within, and that by this rule, because there is something in the heart, that makes manifest what is reprovable; if they do or say a thing reprovable, what manifests a thing is light; what manifests dark words or works, is light. Now when they have found this light within, the next question in controversy is, whether this will give men sufficient Light for the true knowledge of God; whether this is sufficient to bring a man to life and salvation?

I am of that judgment, that it is sufficient; and I believe it heartily, and preach it boldly in the name of the Lord, that the light that shines in your hearts shines there to give you the true knowledge of God, in the face of the Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot believe this, you will say, for you have had this ever since you was a child, and you know not the least good it has done you; all our learned men and ministers, go to what sort you will, they speak very slightly of it; this light within is nothing but natural conscience, a poor light, it is but an ignis fatuus [a misleading illusion], that will mislead us. But let me tell you, the reason why it does you no more good, is, because you have been loose and wanton, and vain, and would not receive the reproofs of it; remember the time, and call to mind, when you received the reproofs of it, then it did you some good, and brought you to remorse, and brought anguish and sorrow, and trouble into your mind, and brought you to a right sense of what evil you had done; but if you did not regard it, no wonder it did you no good; its reproofs and its counsels were like the seed sown by the highway, the fowls of the air gathered it up, and it did not grow; that is, the devil plucked it up, and then the soul lay as seed that brought forth no fruit to God, and the devil might have what advantage he would.

I will tell you the reason why so many learned men, men of great abilities, speak so slightly and poorly of it: because it has done them no good, inward nor outward, that they know of. How could it have done you good when it has done them none? The reason why it does them no good, is because they do not believe in it; and did Christ ever do anybody good who did not believe in him? He gave men power indeed to become the sons of God, the greatest good that they are capable of; but it was to those who believed on his name. Were all those who heard Christ preach, the sons of God? No, some were the devil's sons; our Savior tells them, that they were of their father the devil, and they did his works; they came to meetings and heard Christ preach, he discoursed to them, but it did them no good, for they did not believe on his name, [they did not believe it was Christ speaking to them; they did not believe what he told them to be the truth].

And then it appears in the next place, that if this light is taken heed to, and if men come to be taught by it and receive instructions, they would then have it all for no cost; they would have it all for God's sake in all the counsels and understanding of divine mysteries, all the openings of God, and all their knowledge of God would be obtained without charge. What then would become of the trade of preaching Christ, and the attributes of God; then their silver-shrine-trade will be spoiled, and then their Diana is gone; and this light has done them no good inwardly because of their unbelief, and it does them no good outwardly, because it spoils their preaching trade, because it teaches men for free, but teaches them, for God's sake, the light of the knowledge of God, that shines in the face of Jesus Christ, in which are the openings of the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

So that if any come to know the virtue and the power that turns men from darkness to light, they have come to another state, and turned from the power of Satan to the power of God; and when the power of God is revealed in them, then they say, this is my God; now I know the true God. They speak as those who are acquainted with him; this is life eternal to know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. It is not to know him at a distance, but as always present. The soul comes to be acquainted with God, as familiarly as a man is acquainted with his friend, and better too. A man that is acquainted with his friend, only knows some things pertaining to him, but those who are acquainted with their Maker, they know the whole counsel of God, so far as belongs to their peace; therefore it was not in vain said of old, acquaint yourself with him, and be at peace. Be but acquainted with that inward power that knows your thoughts, and then nobody needs to preach a sermon to you of the omnipresence of God, nobody needs to make you a doctrine of it, and offer reasons and motives for you to believe it; it is all foolish labor. I know that God is with me, and near me; I feel him in me and with me, at my lying down and rising up; when I am in my shop and about my business, he is with me in all places; and such a man is also well instructed about the omniscience of God; God's knowing everything. I have learned that since I came to know him, all the doctors [of religion] in Europe can tell me no more than I know in that point: the Lord observes all my goings  and numbers all my steps; Lord, you make manifest the thoughts of my heart, you search my heart, and try my reins. Here is God's omniscience and knowing all things. Here is divinity growing out of the life.

Then the wisdom of God is infinite; so are all God's attributes infinite, incomprehensible and unspeakable, they are all so in him, but he makes manifest a measure of his wisdom. He brings a man from being such a fool as he was before, to become a wise man. He was such a sot and fool as to become drunk and tumble in the dirt. He could not stand upon his legs, but now he has become wise and sober. Another was so foolish as to defile himself and wallow in his uncleanness. Now such a man comes to true wisdom, it begins in the fear of God for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. What does his wisdom do? It keeps him out of the dirt; it makes him live, first as a man, then as a Christian, to live righteously, soberly, and godly, in this present world. It leads him into the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God; to know and comprehend with all saints, what is the height, and length, and breadth, and depth, and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge. This is more than bare sobriety and moderate living; such are taught to live soberly, righteously, and godly, to live by faith, and to be led into the knowledge of the mystery of the kingdom of God; to know the Lord Jesus Christ to their justification. This is the learned and the wise man; he has gotten the substance as well as the shadow; he has the marrow as well as the bone; he is reconciled to God, through Christ; he has remission of sins through Christ Jesus, that died for him and rose again.

When you come to be partakers of this, it will do you good; notions will not do it. When you come to know God for yourselves, and understand him for yourselves, to know him as your Savior and Redeemer, who has rescued you from the snares of the wicked one; whoever does this, they will worship God; when they have this knowledge of him, they will bow to him, they will be like those of old that said: he is our judge, he is our law-giver, he is our king, and he will save us. There arose a testimony in the hearts of good people of that age, that God was their judge that judged them, their law-giver that directed them. How they should make their way to him, so that he was their king, and ought to rule them, for he must save them.

So when people come to know God for themselves, to be inwardly acquainted with God for themselves; when a company of these souls meet together, when they have been at this school, and learned this lesson of divinity, they then sit down and wait upon the Lord, that God that searches the heart and tries the reins, and observes how they do service for the honor of his name; and they receive spiritual gifts from him to their edification and comfort; and they receive judgment from him when they do anything contrary to his mind.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Minister of the Sanctuary which the Lord has pitched. If men have a church, as they call it, they must have Bill or Bob for their Minister. We know who the Minister of such a place is; but here is a Minister set up in God's sanctuary, this priest’s lips shall preserve knowledge. All that come to God's church are taught of this priest; he is a high one, the high priest of our profession; we have no such other. He is not set up by a carnal commandment; his induction came not from any priest in this world, but his induction came from the God of Heaven and Earth. His Father set him up for a priest; he comes by a Heavenly induction and commission. He is a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek, not after the order of Aaron. If you come to God's church, you may hear this Minister.

Some have called a house of stone, or wood, a church; but that will not do now. Therefore there are people who know better; they see churches gathered of living stones; men and women are gathered to these churches. Now the apostle said, the church is in God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you will come to church you must come to Jesus Christ; the church is in God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the general assembly, the congregation of his faithful people. What do you mean by a church? Ask a learned man, that understands Greek and Hebrew, what is the meaning of the word? A church, said he, is the congregation of the faithful; it is an assembly of the faithful people congregated together. Where must they meet? They must meet in the general assembly of the  first-born, whose names are written in Heaven. The Hebrews had come to that church, though they lived many hundred miles asunder, in Asia, Cappadocia, and Bythinia. You are come to the general assembly of the first-born; there is a priest, there is the high-priest of our profession, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, not after the order of Aaron. How long is this priest likely to stay in his priesthood? Forever; he is a priest forever, not after a carnal commandment, but according to the power of an endless life.

The priests that were after Aaron’s order, they could not continue. Death snatched one away, then they must have another priest; but here is one that has a priesthood higher than the Heavens, by the power of an endless life. Here is the priest of God's church, and the teacher of God's people; so that when God's people come to church, that is, to God the Father, there Christ teaches them, according to the old prophecy, I will teach my people myself.

We have labored to bring people to this teaching, so that they might come to the knowledge of the living God. Now no one needs to teach them for they are taught of God; blessed be God, our labor has not been in vain for we see the fruit of our labors and are satisfied. We have been laboring to bring men to know the Lord; now all shall know the Lord, from the greatest to the least, and bow before him, and worship him; they hear that their high priest's lips shall preserve knowledge. If they do amiss, he chastises them for it; if they do well, then he comforts them by his Spirit. Now our labor is, that all may be brought to this, and that every one may know the Lord, and may fear him and serve him, and worship him in his temple. Our bodies are a temple for that use, in which to worship God: know you not that your bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost? You must worship in yourselves, you must go into yourselves, you must know the exercise of the grace of God in yourselves, and the workings of the spirit of truth in yourselves, so that your souls in your bodies may be bowed to the power of the spirit, and that your worship must be in the spirit; you must pray in the spirit, and give thanks in the spirit.

Though those who set up worship in the church, talk of divinity and religion in every part of it, yet the substance of all the shadows of the law are fulfilled in the gospel; the substance of all the modes, and rites, and forms of religion, are fulfilled in the gospel-way. So then let every one compare and examine their state, and consider how the case stands between them and their Maker, what knowledge they have of God, and what trust they have put in him, so that they may be persuaded and prepared to come within the enclosure of this church. But you must first come out of the world, else you can never come into that church that is in God; if you are in the world, you must go to the world's church and be the members of the world's church; and you shall have this for your pains: the world will love you, but if you come out of the world's church into God's church, the world cannot love you.

Be as good as you will, you can never be so good as Christ Jesus, and they loved him not, because he was not of the world; if you were of this world, said Christ, the world would loves its own; but since you are not of the world, I have taken you out of it, therefore the world hates you. If they do so to the green-tree, what will they do to the branches? are you better than I, said our Savior; the servant is not greater than his Lord: those who are the disciples of Christ must be content to be persecuted, reviled and hated for his name’s sake; for thus they treated him, who was holy, and harmless, and undefiled, who gave them a good example, and who did them no hurt, but did them good; yet the world hated him, and it is but reasonable to expect that you should suffer from the world in the same manner, and bear it at their hands.

If you come to this church that is in God the Father, and Jesus, the Mediator, the church of the first-born that are written in Heaven, and come out of the world's church, then the world will come down on your head. All the world will set themselves against this church, against the woman that shall bring forth a birth, that shall rule over the nations. There appeared a great wonder in Heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars, and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to he delivered. And there also appeared another wonder in heaven (a terrible thing) and behold a great read dragon, having seven heads and ten horns , and the dragon stood before the woman that was ready to he delivered, to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, that was to rule all nations with a rod of iron, and her child was caught up to God, and to his throne. When the dragon was ready to devour this birth, God took it into his own care, in spite of the devil and all his instruments, and he will save the child and preserve the woman; he that sits in Heaven will laugh at his enemies and defeat them. There is a place appointed for the woman in the wilderness, where she is preserved by the Almighty Power; where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, [1260 days]* from the face of the serpent; but she must come out again after some time, in spite of the devil and all his instruments, of all his dragons and serpents. The woman must come out of the wilderness, and the man-child must come down with great power, to rule the nations.

[*The woman is the true church, which was forced by the devil to flee into the wilderness for 1260 days (years) by the persecutions of the false church in which Satan rules. George Fox refers to this throughout his writings. The true Church of Christ returned from the wilderness in 1648, Fox's entry into the Kingdom, which resulted in thousands entering the kingdom of heaven to be kings and priests to God. The true church totally disappeared around 388A D; a few years after Roman Emperor Theodosius I had enacted a law in 380 establishing Roman Catholic Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. The crushing boot of the Empire's sponsored Roman religion was used to persecute and kill the true church. The Roman Empire's church, both east and west, had doctrines, which had been dictated by the sainted Emperors Constantine and Justinian the despot, thus eliminating the true gospel by 388 AD. As prophesied in Revelation, the church adulterated with the Kings of the earth. As the true early church was eliminated by 388 AD, so was the early Quaker faith totally lost, with the woman and her child forced into the wilderness. The time approaches when the man child will appear again in his saints, and this time he will appear in power to rule the earth with a rod of iron.]

This has been accomplished, say some, more than fourteen hundred years ago; and if you will take their word, the church has been out that long from the wilderness. But the church that they speak of [Roman sect], has it not lacked holiness and righteousness? Has it given glory to God on high, with peace on earth and good will to men? No, their church has lived in tyranny and barbarous cruelty, and shedding of blood. They say the church was in the wilderness in Diocletian's time, and when Constantine came to the empire then she came out of the wilderness.

If it had been a holy church, we should have seen the man child come down from God, and holiness and righteousness would have run down like a mighty stream, and truth would have filled the whole earth. All these things had not yet been fulfilled, for we have seen the professors of truth fallen in the streets; they have been persecuted and troubled, and thrown into prisons and dungeons; but there is a better church somewhere to be found.

I read of the holy church, the lamb's wife, the spouse of Christ that has been hidden somewhere, a great while, in some corner or other in the wilderness; but she will come forth again out of the wilderness, leaning upon her well beloved. She does not come out, leaning on this prince and the other king [having adulterated with the kings of the earth as in Revelation]. She does not come out of the wilderness leaning on captains, generals and armies, but leaning on Christ her well-beloved, the immortal, invisible power of the Son of God, in whom she trusts.

All the other churches, I have read of, they have leaned upon one prince or king, or one emperor or another, and they have relied on these great men as on their bulwark; but this church that comes out of the wilderness, will come leaning only upon her well-beloved, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the author and finisher of her faith; she will put her trust in him, for he will deliver his church from all her enemies. And though the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood, after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood, yet the Lord will cause the earth to help the woman, and the earth shall open her mouth and swallow up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. Let the dragon do what he can to destroy the woman and her seed, she knows what her beloved can do; he will command the earth to open and swallow up the flood, and she shall go dry through it.

How happy are those who lean upon Christ, their well beloved! The church of Christ in all ages has leaned upon him, and he has founded his church upon a rock, so that the devil and all his instruments, and the very gates of hell shall not prevail against her. The members of this church have Christ Jesus for their teacher, and they receive counsel and direction from him. He is their priest and teacher, and he teaches them by his spirit and his word, which he has placed in their hearts, and given them an understanding to know him who is true. Christ's word you must keep to, if you will be true scholars. This is true divinity; if you will have the mysteries of the kingdom of God communicated and opened to you, give heed to his word and that truth that is in your inward parts. Attend to that light and that grace that is manifested in your hearts, and the Lord will show you more of the power and efficacy thereof; and if you are faithful in a little, he will make you rulers over much; live answerable to the understanding and knowledge that God has given you, and if you are faithful in a little, he will communicate more and more of his mind and will to you; and if you are led by the spirit of truth, you will trust in it, and hearken to it, and understand the language of it in your own hearts; and if you are a willing people in the day of God's power, work all things in you and for you, and work in, you both to will, and to do of his good pleasure.

<Sermons Continued>>>>

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