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Christ the Way to Eternal Life
Preached at Grace-Church-Street, May 6, 1688
THE desire of all nations has come; what all people desire in their own way, has come in God's way; for all nations and all people on the earth desire eternal life. They would all be happy in the next world, and in order to achieve this, they have fitted themselves with many ways and methods, in which they have proposed to themselves the enjoyment of eternal Life; but by reason of the darkness that is in them, they have erred. In their ways, they have been scattered; they have been driven and tossed here and there, and can never agree about the way that leads to eternal life.
This comes because of the great darkness that is over the sons and daughters of men in general, in which they have lost their way, and are endeavoring to find it again. But the subtle adversary led them out of the way, and as long as he leads and they follow, they will never find the right way. The great calamity that has come upon the world in this respect, is very greatly to be lamented; for when the eye of the mind is opened, to behold the universal state of mankind, and to see how they are scattered here and there, and often left in confusion, by the craft and delusion of the wicked one, and that none of the ways that they have found, are likely to bring them to the proposed end, because they are defiled, because they are unholy. This has bowed down the spirit of the Lord's servants many times, and a great cry has arisen in the hearts of those who have seen the fruition and enjoyment of life eternal. O, that the sons of men might hear! And O that they might consider their ways before they come to their latter end! For mark friends, this you may take for a certain doctrine, and a sure rule in judgment, concerning all the ways that the sons and daughters of men walk in: if they are unholy, they will be unprofitable. The way of the Lord was, and is, and ever will be the way of holiness, and the people that walk therein, they were, and are, and they will always be, a holy people. Now the sons and daughters of men have not gone to measure their way by this rule. Instead the greatest endeavors that have ever been in the world, from the beginning, (the greatest endeavors that men undertook), were to see how near they could approve their doctrine and practice with the scriptures of truth. That has been the bone of contention, which they have stumbled about from one generation to another; one crying my way is right. Here they have been contending, disputing, jangling, and debating with one another, and could never agree, and could never come to that understanding, which is given by the Holy Spirit who moved holy men to write the Holy Scriptures of truth. If they had, it is manifest they would have agreed, for this one spirit must agree with itself and will give judgment according to its own righteous judgment. Men, being alienated from the life of God by evil works and by the suggestions of Satan, have not known the way of peace and have not come to what is the desire of all nations. Now in the fullness of time, the Lord God eternal, who created the Heavens and the Earth, the sea and the fountains of water, he has looked down and beheld the miserable calamitous state of the sons and daughters of men, and he has seen how they have been scattered and driven to and fro by idle shepherds; and how everyone has indulged himself in his own way, though unholy and impure because of the darkness of the night of ignorance that has been over the people. Therefore in his infinite love and mercy, he is risen, and has brought forth his light and his truth, that the nations might be enlightened, that they might come and see with a divine eye that the truth is but one, and the way but one, and all who really desire to be inheritors of eternal Life, must come to walk in that way. So that people are never brought back again out of that way in which they have been scattered and driven about, until they come to see that the way they practice brings forth iniquity [lawlessness, sin, evil]. Then they see there is no light to be had in them, they see the anger of God kindled, and the indignation of God poured out because of sin and unholiness.
Now when they come to be convinced of their disobedience by the light of Christ Jesus, then they come to feel and find a principle, a seed and root that gives them a law that they should obey, and hear the right law-giver, and have respect to him. Here is the revelation of Christ Jesus by his Spirit, and this extends itself in its operation and working to the sons of men, to those who are far off, as well as to those who are near; therefore our continual exhortation, from time to time, according as the spirit has given us utterance, is not so much to make profession of this and the other doctrine of Christianity, as to persuade all men everywhere, so that they might believe in the light, and hearken to the voice of the light in their own consciences, that they might hearken to what is purely of God in themselves, as we know, whoever comes to love the light of Christ Jesus, with which they are enlightened, it would discover doctrine to them, and make known faith and practice too; it will lead them in the way everlasting, it will open their understanding far above all preaching this and the other doctrine and tenet.
What good is it to show colors to the blind, or to speak words to the dead; until men come to have their senses opened, so that they may discern things belonging to the spirit of truth, the carnal man cannot understand the things of the gospel of Christ, the carnal man is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be; there must be something done in the soul, to bring it out of its carnality, and bring it to something that is spiritual, before it is capable of understanding the things of the spirit. Therefore when our minds can witness what we came here for, when we meet to serve and worship God, we shall have a hope to receive some illumination, some refreshment, some comfort, or some knowledge of things divine; it is in vain to attend religious doctrines with an irreligious mind. It is my judgment in love, that everyone who comes here, has some expectation of illumination in their understandings, some gift, or some instruction; this they may receive from the God of Heaven, by the ministry of those who must be the mouth of God, to speak to them in his name. When people are thus prepared, and their minds fixed to hear the truth; if they do not find it in themselves, if they do not come to a sense of the word of Life in their own hearts, their hearing cannot give them life. We are commending ourselves to every man's conscience; let your minds be turned inward, search and consider, is there a light that enlightens every man that comes into the world? Is there a desire of eternal life manifested in me? Is there something in me that pleads obedience to God, to mend my life and conduct, so that I might be recommended to God? Is there something in me that checks me when I speak amiss, and do amiss? I appeal to the witness of God in you; if that is so, then believe me for the word's sake, the testimony of God in your hearts.
Let us next consider, whether we had best agree on this conclusion: that God has enlightened us, and whether we had not best obey that light; this is the best way, let us put the question, and wait for an answer from ourselves. There is much indeed to be said on the other side. "If I should hear and obey that by which I am enlightened, if I should hearken to the reproof of my own conscience, I would lose a great deal of the pleasure and of the comfort of the world; I would lose a great deal of the profit which I gain in my trade and calling, and of the delight and pleasure I have with my neighbor. "
This is not to be denied; I would have things put in the balance. I grant you will lose some pleasure, and ungodly gain, and the friendship of the world; but pray consider, and let us go through the account. If you obey this light of Christ Jesus, this is God's way of drawing you nearer to himself, to make you an heir of his eternal kingdom. On the other hand, if you indulge you carnal parts, you will lose your immortal soul; if you should gain the whole world, and lose your own soul, what will it profit you? You should consider, why I am enlightened; how did it happen that my nature is evil, and I am fallen from my primitive state, from the knowledge of God, and from the enjoyment of his presence, and communion with him? How does God come to take notice of me, and to enlighten me and kindle in me a desire of returning to him? Why should he do this for me? You will never find a reason in yourself of this extraordinary kindness, of this singular mercy of God to you; it is because his mercy moved him, and it was his compassion that stirred him up. He has sent his Son Jesus Christ into the world so that men might have light in and through him and have it abundantly. The mercy of God is a fountain from which all this flows to us. If this does not prevail upon you, no argument will. What, was it mere mercy, mere grace, that God was not willing to see me perish, and run headlong to destruction? He was loath to execute his wrath upon me, therefore he found out a way by which I might return to him. This made a good man cry out: behold! what manner of love is this, with which the Father has loved us? Here is the grace of God; here is the good will of God; here is the way; a way, what way? A way of coming to God, a way of being again reconciled to God, whom we had provoked by our sins; a way of enjoying eternal life again, after we had lost all pretence to it.
The next question is, who will walk in the way that leads to eternal life? We would all have eternal life; it is the universal consent of all nations; all would have eternal life; but the question is, who will walk in the way that leads to it? Some of the other nations, and many in this nation, will walk in their own way, and yet they would have eternal life; but their way must be of the same nature and quality with the life they would have; if the way they walk in is not of the same nature and quality, it will not lead to it. Let everyone examine their way; let everyone examine their progress, and their lives and footsteps in this world; if they sow to the flesh, they shall of the shall reap corruption; and if they sow to the spirit, they shall of the spirit reap life everlasting; a suitable fruit to that life they live, and the way they walk in. If we conclude with reason; with pure, sound reason, we must conclude it is better for us all to walk in the way of holiness; and we shall have more reason to believe that we shall have life eternal, than in walking in an unholy way; therefore we should be resolved to walk in the way of holiness; and if people are brought to this, it is an easy thing to draw them to confession. You say true, it is better to walk in a holy way than an unholy way; but alas! We do not have power to d0 so; we are feeble, weak, dark and ignorant; and we have many lusts, temptations and impediments, lying in our way, so that it is not possible for any to walk in that way. We know the way, we understand the way well enough; you would have us walk by the light of Christ, and the dictates of our own consciences, then we should never be condemned for anything we do, but we would stand in an openness of access to God. When a man sins against God, sin lies at the door; but those who do not sin, have an access to God. Alas, these things cannot be done! What can a poor creature do that lacks power?
My friends, this excuse must go no further; let us try and consider in the presence of God this day, the powerful God who is the assister of his people; let us try how far this will go. I have no power of myself; all good men grant it to be true, you do not have power to walk in the way of holiness. But let us ask another question; does God require of you and me to walk in the way of holiness, and does he deny power to us to walk in it? We cannot walk in the way of holiness, except by the operation of his power working in us, to the extinguishing of the life of sin and corruption, that has hindered us all this while; God knows we cannot do it ourselves. Christ tells his disciples, without me you can do nothing, nothing good, nothing that is right. This being concluded, all power comes from God; the next question is, how, and which way must we receive power from God greater than our own power? What is the way of people's receiving power from God? You have read how people came to have power: to as many as believed, to them he gave power to become the sons of God. What does this mean to those who do not believe? If believing is the way to obtain power, it is nothing to those who do not believe; there faith is necessary, in the first place, for obtaining of this power. This is a great mystery, such an odd saying, that the world does not know what to make of it. Believers, we are all believers; I believe the truth of the principles of the Christian religion, and I believe all the articles of the creed. To talk of believing at this time of day, we have believed this twenty, or thirty, or forty years, but the first act of faith is yet to be done after your sense. This is true, with the greatest part of the nation; the first act of faith has not yet begun for their faith is men's faith. We are for the faith that was delivered to the saints; it is the gift of God, and it comes from the operation of God; so that I may conclude, whoever remains a stranger to the operation of God, he is a stranger to the true faith; and those who estrange themselves from what God works, are strangers to the operation of God. Therefore, until people's minds are turned to Christ, whom God has sent, who is appointed to be for salvation to the ends of the earth; until men come to reduce the government both of the soul and body to him, as the captain of their salvation; until they come to be thus resigned, they cannot come to the true faith.
Now when God works this resignation in us, a man will reflect upon himself and say, alas I have been my own keeper too long. I see I have gone off from God; now I will return to him, and resign up myself to the Lord so that he may work in me what he pleases to work. When men come to this resignation of soul, they have faith given them; they must believe God will never leave them nor forsake them, but he will magnify his power in their weakness. I will rest my soul upon him, and cast my care upon him who cares for me. It is not faith barely in words, and in the articles of the creed, but it is a faith in the Son of God, to whom all power in Heaven and Earth is given; I may expect a share of it, he will give me a little, if I come to him for it; and if I am faithful in a little, he will give me more; the reason why you lack power, is, because you lack faith; and the reason of your lack of faith, is, because you lack a resignation to the will of God. You will be your own servers, and your own keepers and guides. When you come to this resignation to the will of God, God will give you power, and then you will find him the God of all grace. You are what you are by the grace of God and by his power, and by that power you will obey his will. Here is faith that gives glory to God, to that God that takes an unholy man and makes him holy; how does he do this? By his holy spirit, which is as fire that burns up what is corruptible, then the man is well, (I speak according to the dictates of the spirit), when he is reconciled to God by Christ Jesus, the Mediator between God and man, the Mediator of the new covenant, who makes our peace. That you may come to the knowledge of the day of the Lord's visitation, is what our souls labor and travail for, that you may be in the unity of the same spirit after the desire of all nations is come; he is come to you, that you may all say within yourselves, salvation this day is come to our house and into our hearts.
Christ All in All
Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Devonshire-House, June 10, 1688
THE Lord Jesus Christ is the only light, life, and virtue that can satisfy. Christ is all in all. There is nothing can satisfy the souls of the upright, unless they feel life and virtue to flow from Christ Jesus; and this, whether it flow through the words spoken in spirit by his chosen instruments, or whether is flows directly from the hearts of the hearer, it always comforts, it always refreshes the upright in heart.
Therefore all those who desire satisfaction to their souls, and who meet together upon that account, ought to have their eyes turned to the Lord so that they may be capable to understand the ministration of the spirit, whether in themselves, or through any other. For while they are exercised outwardly, and the dependence of their souls is upon what is outward, there remains a veil upon the mind, that they many times hear excellent things spoken of the kingdom of God, but they do not really understand them because they are alienated and estranged in their minds from that of God in themselves, which should give them an understanding. As preachers, we never pretend to give people an understanding; we have always said, that is the work of God. We have spoken many things of the kingdom of God; excellent things have been revealed to us by his holy spirit, and the same spirit has given us utterance, to speak of the great things of the law of God. Yet many, who have been constant hearers of these things, remain ignorant, and are insensible because they are not exercised in their own measure of the grace and light of the Lord Jesus Christ, by which they should receive and understand them. This has made me often lament the case of many of the people of this city and nation, who are daily hearers of the word of God preached, and do not retain it in their hearts. The sowers are gone out to sow, but many receive it in the wayside ground; the way that everything can pass in; there they receive the word sown, and the devil takes it away. So, although they have heard excellent things of the strength, ability and power of God that he ministers to his people, they remain so weak and so feeble that they are blown away with every blast of the adversary, with every temptation, and with every snare and trap that is laid for them. They are caught, ensnared, and taken; and so these come to meetings again and again, one year after another. I might say unto you, why do you come? It may be you may say, we desire to be satisfied; we desire satisfaction for our souls. Do you so? Then I tell you, you may come all the days of your life, and lack it, and lay down your heads in sorrow at last for all that. For all the words in the world will never communicate that heavenly life and virtue which brings true satisfaction to the soul, unto any, except to those who have an exercise in their own mind and spirits, in what they have from God; they must first be brought to know the way they should walk in, and to believe that is the way [enough to walk in it]. When people believe this is my way, the light within is my way, the grace of God is my way, which searches and tries my heart, that is my way I must walk in, speak in, and think in, and do all that I have to do in; when I believe this is that way, then this belief obliges men to take heed to their ways, to their footsteps. And here those who are thus exercised, are in a tender care every step they take in their way; and so perhaps they may receive great benefits by hearing the reports they do daily hear from those who were in the way before them, and have traveled further in it, than they ever yet have done. The experiences of the servants of the Lord are daily helpful to them, and they are daily comforted, strengthened, and confirmed, to hear how they have sped, who have traveled through their condition, and through their present state; the helps and advantages they have met with, will do you good, and comfort you. But what is this to those who are not in the way, who do not have active faith in the way? Though they have a clear belief of the doctrine and way itself, yet they are not exercising themselves to walk in it; for they do like the rest of the world, saying, this good man, and the other good man, made a good sermon. Why was it good? Not for any good they found by it, but because he raised his doctrine well, and proved it from the scripture, therefore we are obliged to believe it.
But now this good doctrine, however so good, and however so firmly proved, it brings forth no fruit to the amendment of life, except in those who believe [to be motivated]; no fruit except in them where there is an exercise in the fear of God, where people are concerned for their soul's satisfaction. For those who look for true satisfaction by this, or that, or the other way of the world, they spend their days without satisfaction, and so at last they die in sorrow; and so it will be to the end of this, and all succeeding generations.
And therefore, my friends, though I confess it is not a grief to me, but a joy, to see people willing to hear the truth, and to come together in great assemblies; though I say, this is not a grief, but a joy, for I am not about to discourage those who do so. Yet I must be plain with you, I know what I say, and you will know it too one day, that all this meeting together, and gathering in great assemblies, and hearing what is preached to you, with ever so great delight to your minds, it will do you no good, unless you believe in the grace of God, that has been ministered to you through Jesus Christ.
And when people come to this foundation, and build on it, and grow every day more and more diligent in the exercise of their minds towards God, and examine their way, and examine their footsteps, how they have walked yesterday, how they have walked this day, and how their minds are exercised at this present time, whether they have answered the grace of God; when they come to be thus exercised, they will look upon themselves as duty bound to give account to God every moment, for their thoughts, words, and actions. When they are thus exercised, then let them come to meetings in the name of God, and hear the experiences of those who have gone before them, and treasured up sayings in their hearts for their encouragement, and they will find this will be a help to them. But if people go and build a religion upon the sayings of this and that man; even if based upon the sayings of Christ himself or his apostles, if they were here to preach to them; and build a religion upon their words, and sayings, and doctrines, without the operations of the Spirit of God upon their hearts, inclining them to holiness and righteousness; this religion will do them no good. By this, to make the best of it, they might make adapt to reach to a form of godliness; which is people conforming themselves outwardly to the outward precept, command, [ritual, or ceremony] from without. This conformance might amount to a form of godliness, yet it might be supposed and granted, that the power of God, the power of divine life and virtue, where it if found, it sanctifies and seasons the mind, and brings men into an awful reverence of the living God, their Maker, so that they might stand in awe and not sin against him; for here is the life of religion.
This has a great difference from the manner of building men in religion that many have been acquainted with. They tell us, our fathers before us were built up in these forms, and modes, and methods of religion; they received so many doctrines, ordinances, sacraments and articles; and when these are received, believed and professed, you are a saint, you are a child of God, and you are a member of the church. How did man arrive at this? One says, men in the past were instructed in all the principles of the Christian religion, and subject to all the ordinances of the church; and another says, someone could speak excellently concerning the doctrine of our religion; therefore he is [to be believed] and certainly a child of God, and a member of Christ; but all this acceptance of the principles of the Christian religion, of doctrines, and ordinances, and sacraments - all this will not amount to the purifying of the heart, and cleansing and purging of the conscience. No, and it comes far shorter to the bridling of the tongue because they would be in a passion upon the least provocation; and upon the least disgust and distaste given them, their tongues would run over into wrath, into wantonness, and profaneness. Upon any occasion and provocation given, their corrupted words would prevail, and lead them into deceit and covetous practices; and though the fruits and works of the old man remain, yet they will follow the principle of the regenerate, as far as they consist in words.
If our Lord Jesus Christ says, except a man is horn again he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, then this old corrupt birth will preach a sermon upon this text, and profess it. How many have taken upon themselves to preach a sermon, upon some excellent sayings of Christ, that never knew what regeneration was; for the new birth always has a new life; but they have lived the life of carnal corrupt fallen man, and yet preach a sermon upon regeneration. Thus the ministers have done, and the people have believed them, and have been gathered into ditch* and such a church; for most put themselves into one church or other; they have been covenanted Christians, members of a church; but they have lacked what makes a Christian, a religious man, that is, the answer of a good conscience.
As a true Christian, he is bound to be an obedient child unto God, that begat him of his own will, by the word of truth; and this person can expect an answer of peace from God, through Jesus Christ, in whom he has believed, and by whom he is reconciled to God. If you take away this new birth, and this new nature, and an answer of peace, from God to the soul, then tell me what the Christian religion is, more than the religion of Heathens and Pagans that worship stocks and stones? All the rest is only talk, and men are never a bit better for it. One man may excel another in talk and discourse. A debauched man many times has been able to talk at a great rate, and to speak notable things; and some have been ready to say, it is a pity a man of such excellent parts should lead a wicked life. But alas! if such a one can talk of the power of God still, and the devil has power over him, or if he speaks highly of the wisdom of God, yet he himself plays the fool abominably; so that by such a kind of life, and such a kind of religion, people never attain to satisfaction; after forty, or fifty, or sixty years spent therein, they must after all, lay down their heads in sorrow, when they have been constant keepers to the church, and sayers of their prayers, and receivers of the sacrament, and steadfastly believe the articles of the creed, and make profession of all the parts of the Christian religion; yet after all, they must lay down their heads [die] in sorrow. Why, what is the matter? What did they lack? They lacked faith in the power of God that would have enabled them to overcome their sin, and live in obedience to God; and they lacked to their outward profession, the answer of a good conscience, and justification through Christ the Mediator.
They talked of redemption through Jesus Christ, but were never redeemed from their sins. This is so evident and plain, that there is no speaking to the contrary. If you see a drunkard, or a swearer, or an unclean person, and if he shall preach, and make an excellent sermon of the redemption that there is in Christ, and therein tell you, what great benefits they receive by Christ, that they are true believers, and that Christ is a Redeemer, and redeems them from the curse of the law, and from the guilt of sin, and reconciles them to God; so that he who was under the curse of the law, and an heir of wrath, is now a child of God. Now if you come to examine this man, and ask him, whether he is redeemed, and delivered from sin, so that sin has no more dominion over him, he will tell you, no. What not redeemed, when you have been a believer so long? Are you still under the bondage and captivity of sin? Then you are under the government of some other master than Christ; some other master has rule over you, if you are not redeemed from your swearing, lying, drunkenness, and uncleanness. If you are doing these things, you are under the power and government of some other master than Christ. Now this has startled people, when they have been thinking, that they have been baptized, and are professing Christians. They have flattered themselves with a groundless confidence; let me die when I will, this night, or tomorrow, I shall be saved by Christ; I am an heir of the kingdom of God. Let me tell you, you dishonor the name of God by your presumption.
When people come to examine matters, and read over the book of their consciences, and see what servants they have been to the devil, how the devil has led them up and down at his will, those who were supposed covenanted Christians and followers of Christ; when the devil has said to them, follow me, then they answer: “I will.” When the devil says, follow me to do this and the other evil thing, they say: “I see I cannot resist; I cannot withstand the temptation; I was overtaken, surprised, and led away by such an allurement, and ensnared by it.” Such people, I pray you to leave off talking about Jesus, for you disgrace the Lord Jesus Christ; he and his disciples did not do these things so. He was tempted as you are, and his disciples were tempted as you are; so were Christians of old time; and true Christians who live in the present time, meet with many temptations, but they are not at the devil's beck and call as you are.
The apostle Paul, in one passage of his life, we find came to be awakened and startled. There was a light from heaven that shines around him, and he heard the voice of Christ speaking to him: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? He replied: “Who are you Lord?” And the Lord said:” I am Jesus whom you are persecuting; it is hard for you to kick against the pricks [of conscience];” and he trembling and astonished said: “Lord, what will you have me to do? Acts 9:3-6. He was brought to this pass after his convincement, but before that he was overcome and led captive; and when he would do good, evil was present with him. To will, said he, is present, but how to perform I know not; but he did not call this a happy state He did not say then, I am in a good condition, when I am led captive by the devil at his will. The good that I would do, I do not, and I am carnal, and sold under sin. He does not say, this is a good condition, I am satisfied with it; see what he calls that condition; he gives it a more right name than many do now days, that say, this is the state of God's children; that the best of all God's children have no power to live without sin, and overcome all their corruptions; that they sin in their best duties, and can do nothing but sin, and that sin mixes itself in all their holy duties and performances. Many of their ministers tell them, that if they think they can perform any duty without sin, they deceive themselves, and run the hazard of being accursed. But this is not a teaching of Christ, but rather comes from a different master. Paul gave this state another name, which I would you were as wise when you are in this state and condition: O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me? I see a wretchedness in this condition; I see, if I am not delivered out of it, I must perish to all eternity. This is not a state to live in; who can live at ease in such a condition as this? Who can but cry out, “who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death?” Alas! We hear no such cry now among priests or people, and separate congregations [those who appointed their own preacher]. I fear this cry is almost lost among us, unless it is some few that hear the voice of God, and feel such a stroke of the divine power as Paul did, and answer to the heavenly voice. I confess that I myself have heard such a cry, and have been sensible of my woeful captivity and bondage, by reason of sin. And though I had a mind to do good, I could not do it; it was my desire that I might sin no more. I desired not to sin against the Lord, if I could avoid it; and when I would do good, I found that evil was present with me; but I was far from sitting down [giving up] there, and saying, “this is the state and condition of God's people; it is as well with me as it was with the apostle Paul, therefore I will sit down [give up trying to change] in this state.” The people of God cannot find satisfaction in such a state as this, though I confess, that God's peculiar people at first came to this state, for their conviction; and the opening of their minds, and enlightening their understandings, to see the evil of their ways; but they do not come to this state, as to their rest, and then persuade themselves that they are in the condition of the children of God. Rather they give their state an accurate name, and cry out, “wretched man that I am! What a miserable condition I have fallen into! I did not see it before. Now my eyes are opened, now my understanding is illuminated; now I see that the corruption of my nature prevails against the grace of God; and when I would join with the grace of God, and the motions of his Holy Spirit, the enemy is present to lead me away. I am not now in a happy state, but I am so far advanced that I am convinced of my miserable and wretched state and condition; if some way or other is not found for my deliverance, I shall never see the face of God with comfort.” Then arises that cry: “Who shall deliver me?” Thus the apostle Paul (Rom 7:24) sets forth the state of his convincement, and how miserable a condition he was in. Then he goes further, and tells you how it was with him. I thank God through Jesus Christ Our Lord. O! I have cause enough to thank God, I am not a wretched man now, I am not carnal, sold under sin; I am not led captive by the devil at his will now. Why, how so? The apostle said, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, has set me free from the law of sin and death. Here is something to glory and to comfort the soul in. The law of the Spirit of life triumphed in his soul, and delivered him from the law of sin and death, and redeemed him from the power of sin, and made him serve God with freedom and liberty. I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. I would have all come to this, to thank God, not only in words, but in reality, in deed and truth. For one may teach a parrot to talk over these words; but it is the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, that will make you free from the law of sin and death.
This is a hard lesson; therefore you must go home into your own consciences, before you can make a right judgment of things and give a right answer to yourselves. The law of the spirit of life will set you free from the law of your passion, and of your pride and covetousness, and sensuality, and the law of your carnal inclinations. Are you set free from these?
Now when people come to examine themselves, they have nowhere to flee to, but they must take up a daily cross, and trust to the Lord Jesus for their deliverance, who has enlightened them, to see their wretched and woeful state; and illuminated their understandings, that they might come to him, in order to their being delivered from the dominion of sin.
The greatest part of the world thinks this is a thing impossible, and therefore they do not hope to be set free from the bondage of their sins. Which of these ways is it that you take? I am afraid many of you have taken the wrong way. I judge no one in particular, but I speak this in faithfulness and love to your souls.
If there are any here, who are aware of their sins, and in a captive state under sin and Satan, who have despaired of ever being set at liberty, and have said, it is a vain thing to expect it; for some learned men have told them, that there is no deliverance from sin in this world, therefore it is in vain for me to strive, in vain for me to engage myself in a continual care and conflict, in a continual warring and watching against sin; for this deliverance can never be obtained in this life; it is in vain to seek for a thing that can never be found, and to strive for what can never be obtained. If there are any such here present, I have this to say to them, that the Lord, in his infinite mercy, has done two great things for you, to help you out of this despair, of obtaining a full deliverance from the bondage of your sins:
Therefore, my friends, I tell you, (as I said before), nothing will satisfy the soul, but the virtue and life that flows into it from the fountain of life; here is the way to it. If you should hear of a treasury and store of bread laid up for all that are willing to come to it, and if you knew not the way to come to it, and were ready to perish with hunger; what a cry would there be among you! If a man should come and tell you where there is such a treasury of bread, when you are ready to perish with hunger, and tell you the way to it is intricate and narrow, but that he himself has been there, and that he can tell you the ready way to it, and that he himself had relief and supply, and great plenty bestowed upon him, and that he would bring you there; O how welcome would such a one be to you! O that you were as wise in spiritual things, and as much concerned for your souls, as you are for your bodies, and would take the advice of God’s ministers! They would turn you to the light within; the grace of God in your own hearts, which you are partakers of; and speaking to you in the name of God, desire you to follow the duties of your own consciences, and you will come quickly where there is bread enough. By that light within, you will see your state is not as good as you imagined it was. This oracle within, is what you must live with and dwell with; you must go home with it, lie down with it, you must rise with it, and follow the dictates of it; if you do so, before the week is out, you will have experience to tell me, if I should come and ask you, I have gotten more victory over my sins, by following the dictates of the light of the grace of God within my own bosom, than by all my reading, hearing and praying, and performing other duties.
Make a trial of this, and you will find the presence of God with you, and that he is a God at hand, and not afar off; and if you buckle on your spiritual armor, the captain of your salvation will not be far off, but he will be present before you.
Therefore keep your eye unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith, and you will be able to do all things through Christ that strengthens you; and you will be able to conquer those sins and temptations that have conquered you.
Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Devonshire-House, July 17, 1692
(This last sermon was delivered a short time before Stephen Crisp's death.)
THE people of God in former ages often thought upon the name of the Lord. I wish it might be the daily practice of all that make profession to be the people of God in our days to think often upon the name of the Lord. This you know is an inward exercise, invisible and known to none but God; he only knows when you are met together, whether you are thinking upon his name, whether the exercise of your minds is upon his power, or upon whatever else your minds are engaged. They whose exercise and desire is to feel God's power and to be acquainted with his name, the Lord is near to them to reveal his mighty power and his name to them; and they are a people that partake of his goodness and of his virtue, and have an experiential knowledge of the many administrations of both his judgments and mercies to their own souls. So they can proceed from thinking, to speaking of the goodness of God from the experience that they have in themselves, that the Lord is good to them.
For all that some do in their manner of speaking of God and his goodness, and crying up the name of the Lord, it is all worth nothing; it is only noise. But everyone that partakes in his own soul of something of the divine virtue and goodness that flows from God invisibly to him through Jesus Christ, he has assurance in himself that he speaks the truth. It is not merely words, made ready to his hand, but it is his own knowledge and experience of what God has wrought in him by his own Spirit; there are none that think upon the name of the Lord, and his power, and the working of it, but they are able to speak of it effectually and truly.
I know it has been, and is the practice among many, that they are able to speak of God's goodness from what they find in the writings and sayings of some that lived before them, that did bear an honorable testimony of God's goodness in their religion; and they learn to say it over again in their particular age. But what has this tale that they have told, brought about? This report they have made, how God was with the Christians of old, the primitive Christians and martyrs, they have told a tale of these things, and what has it affected? It has either brought forth Christians, or it has not.
The way for people to be grounded and settled in divine knowledge, is for everyone to speak what they know. And if they know nothing of these things [from experience], then say nothing of them. And the way for them to come to receive divine knowledge, is, by thinking, by meditating, by consideration of the converse that God has had with their own souls; for there is a way provided for all men to converse with God that made them. Every man and woman may ask questions of him, and may have answers from him, if they have patience enough to wait for them; every soul here present, that with seriousness of mind [and humility] shall ask of God what their state and condition is, if they were to die presently; God will tell them, he will answer them. He will shine unto them by the light of his Son Jesus Christ, and let them know whether they are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of their iniquity still, or whether they are redeemed out of it, and brought into covenant with himself. But will you believe his answer? I would have no man go about to ask such a question of God unless he has a mind to believe the answer that God gives him. To what purpose should men ask, if they ask amiss? If they ask without faith, they do not believe unless the answer pleases them.
Many, in our days, have put up their petitions and prayers to God, that he would reveal to them the state and condition of their souls. The Lord has answered them, and despite all the profession that they have past made of his name, and of their faith in his Son Jesus Christ, and of the work of redemption, yet he has often declared: you are still unredeemed, you are still in your sin, and lusts, and sexual desires prevails over you; you are still in bondage. This is God's answer to many; but there is something arises in their minds, that they are not willing to believe this; they think they are better that God has told them. What if you do think better of yourself? You are never the better, for the word of the Lord stands sure [perfect, and true]. There is no avoiding it; there is no denial of the truth. If this truth condemns you, all the world cannot justify you; and this truth by which God condemns the sinner is in the sinner's own heart. What will he do with it? It is in the sinner's conscience; it not only condemns him by a book, out of this chapter and that verse, out of this author and the other author, but he is condemned by God's true and faithful witness, in his own conscience. You will not believe it; but if you haven't believed this, then you have remained in your unbelief of the truth; and nothing else but believing it can save you; no other counsel can deliver or redeem you.
So that the best advice and counsel that I can give a people in this case, is this: that when they come to such a religious meeting as this is, they should come with a mind prepared and fitted to think upon the Lord; to think upon his name, and the way by which he brings people to himself; for no man can be called a child of God, who does not partake of his nature. If a man is ever so wise, and rich, and great in the world; if he is a prince or an emperor, without being a partaker of the divine nature, he is a child of wrath. Now if these children of wrath meet with something that convinces them; if they are touched and become a sensible people, then crowns and diadems are nothing to them. Such a one will say, "if I am a child of wrath, a captive to sin and my own lusts and sexual desires, yet for all that I will go to a religious meeting, where I hope the word of God will be preached; I hope to meet with something there that will do me good; and I have a desire that I may be translated out of a natural state, from being a child of wrath, to be brought into the kingdom of God. If I have this desire in me, God who made me, wrought it in me; for by nature we cannot so much as think a good thought." When men think of being better, and of amending their ways, and doing their souls good, these are very good thoughts in themselves. When such thoughts are begotten in any men's hearts, I would have them to ascribe them to the grace of God, and nothing else. Preachers may do much where these desires are begotten, but it is not in their power to beget these desires.
Many have come to a meeting with loose, profane and wandering minds; and though many good things have been spoken to them, it has not reached so far as to beget good desires; their hearts have been so alienated from the grace of God in themselves, which is the great superior worker, to which we are but servants and ministers; there is none can beget anything, but he in whom all power is. Those who are under the power of darkness, the devil besets in them immorality and vanity, profaneness and hardness of heart. Some go away from a meeting without being touched and persuaded, and they have no good hope of being better. But where people are really touched in their spirits, with a desire after something that will do them good, they must come to the fountain of good, the God that made them, and they must think upon him; if they cannot see his glory and hear his voice, yet they can think upon him. This is the least duty of a Christian, to think upon the name of the Lord, when their minds are exercised about divine matters, about the state and condition of their poor souls. If I die this night, what will become of me? This and that sin I have committed; how shall I be able to answer to God for one of a thousand of all my loose thoughts, words and actions? Those who come to a consideration of this, and a due sense of their state and condition, though it is such a state that they do not like, though it is not such as it ought to be, yet notwithstanding it may be better; they may be brought out of it into a better condition.
Now this is the duty of all, to wait upon God, the fountain of all good, that they may receive something from God, for every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of lights, the Father of your light and my light, that light comes to us from the Father of lights. If we have any perfect gift bestowed upon us, it is bestowed by God; therefore you will grant that we are all obliged, from the greatest to the least, to wait upon him, if we have the least expectation from God, by meeting, otherwise we had better keep away.
But I am apt to judge that the most here have come with some desire, that if it pleases God they may receive benefit by their meeting. Where shall they have it? They say, if such a man preaches, then I can be edified much by him. This is a great mistake, for, let who will preach, nobody can receive any benefit unless it is from the Lord, as the fountain of good; for the best preachers in the world are only instruments in the hands of God. If God does not bless his labors, the preacher can do nothing to the souls of people; he can found the truth in their ears outwardly, but he can reach no further. Only God speaks to the heart. If you mind the preacher and not God that made you, all his preaching will do you no good; it may indeed help you to a notion or speculation, but that comes not to the inside, which does not result in any improvement, so the inside lacks mending.
There are great deformities, fears, spots, stains, wounds and laments upon the souls of men, by reason of their sins, lusts and corruptions; and a remedy lacks, and there is no physician of value except God who made us after his own image. The devil has brought in deformity; he has made one proud, another cruel, another wanton, another an oppressor, another malicious; this is all the devil's work. And for this purpose Christ Jesus was manifested (revealed) that he might destroy the works of the devil [sin in us]. He came to destroy pride, malice and lust; there are the devil's works that Christ was revealed to destroy. Why does he not do it? He will destroy all the devil has wrought in every man who will be subject to him. Can a surgeon set a bone, if the patient is not subject to his hand?
But this is far beyond all comparison; Christ has received all power in Heaven and Earth, yet he always looks for a willing people; he sends the day [light] of his power upon such a people, and he works upon their hearts by an invincible power; he makes them willing to be helped, and mended, and healed, and cured, and then he cures them. I dare say, there is not one here that is willing to be reformed, and to submit to Christ to be saved and redeemed by him, but that he will do it; he that is willing and obedient shall eat of the good of the land, and shall know the good of redemption. See whether it has come to a state of redemption; here is universal grace offered; for the light of Christ Jesus enlightens every one of you; it shows you your lost state and condition. When we see our condition bad, that it is not as it ought to be, who would not have it better?
What does the Christian duty of prayer mean? What shall we pray for? Must not people be sensible in themselves what they should pray for, before they come to pray? And what is it that will make them sensible but the light and grace of God? They see their own deficiencies when God works faith in their hearts, and they believe that God can supply those needs. Why should I go to a beggar, to pray him to give me a hundred pounds? I do not believe he can do it, therefore I will not pray to him for it. Now necessity brings people to prayer, but there must be faith in him to whom we pray, that he is able to supply our wants, and relieve our necessities. Upon this account the apostle said: he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him, Heb 11:6. He must first know that there is a God to seek, and then that he is a rewarder of those who seek him.
Here is the foundation of all true religion and true worship; those who go to God and say their prayers, and join with others in saying their prayers; if they have no sense of God, they might as well have held their tongues, for their praying is to no purpose. The belief of those who pretend to believe in God, without an experiential power of God working upon their hearts, is not worth a straw; without their respect to the power of God, all their belief is nothing; but if they know that God has such an operation upon them, that no man or woman in the world can reveal that to them, which God reveals, then they know that God is the searcher of hearts and the trier of the reins. Jer 17:10.
So that if a man or woman goes to prayer, they must pray to God in the belief of his goodness and mercy, that he will bestow some blessing upon them, that may be for the better, that may be for their good. When they come to a meeting, to worship God, and hear the word spoken outwardly, they must pray for something that may be for their good; Lord give me something that may support my soul, and something that may enable me to withstand temptation. People should have their minds thus exercised, and they should think upon the name of the Lord according to their particular necessity; they should pour out their supplication to the Lord. This is such worship as God looks for, and such as he is pleased with; he will deliver those who thus pray to him out of temptations, so that they shall not prevail over them. One man's temptation is of one sort, and another's of another sort, but they are all delivered by the grace of God, and helped over them, upon their prayer to God, for they find by experience that he is a God hearing prayers.
Now, when we have prayed, what is the next work? It is to wait for an answer of our prayer. I prayed the other day to God for power to withstand such a temptation; when that temptation comes again I do expect that God will answer my prayer. Do you so? Then I pray you have an eye to the same grace of God that convinced you, and shown you the temptation; and have your faith exercised upon that grace of God, and you will find it sufficient for you, I will warrant you. Let the devil come with a temptation ever so suitable and subtle, keep your eye upon the grace of God, and it will deliver you. This was the case of Paul; when a messenger of Satan was sent to buffet him; he pleaded with the Lord three times. The temptation did leave him, and God gave him an answer of his prayer: my grace is sufficient for you. As if he had said, let the devil come with ever so much power, he shall never overcome you.
I speak to those who are well skilled in this kind of work, and have met with sharp temptations, and sometimes perhaps they have been overcome by them, and at other times they have withstood them. What is the difference? Why, one while they are loose and careless, and did not pray for the assistance of divine grace; another while they kept close to it, and were delivered.
Therefore when you come to meeting, with a desire to receive benefit from God, with your expectations towards God, to receive comfort from the hands of the Lord, let your eye be upon him, and the working of his grace in your own hearts; and hearken to that voice that is within you, and it will be more effective than mine. If you find the work of grace in you to be the same thing that I speak of, then believe me for the truth's-sake; believe me because you find the same work and testimony within yourselves. And I am persuaded there is no one here, but sometime or other have withstood that temptation which they have met with. Pray tell me how they did it? Why, the temptation came unto me, and it pleased God to show me the evil of it, that it was a bad thing if I yielded to it. How did you resist it? Did the devil not have a coercive power over you, to force you to it, whether you would or not? That God that shown me the evil of it, delivered me from the evil; I was not judged and condemned in myself, because I found myself delivered from it; there are none of you, if you would not be lazy and idle, but you might be delivered every day, and have experience in your own souls, that when the devil comes and tempts, the Lord is at hand to deliver you by his grace and power.
So that the only way for people to be preserved from sin and iniquity, is to have a reverent respect to that grace of God, which they have already received. I would have that vain conceit that has long reigned in the world, taken out of your head. When you see a wicked husband, wife, or child, you say, if they had grace they would be better. I say they have some degree of grace already; God has sent forth his grace and truth, to teach men to deny ungodliness; so that I would not pray that God would give my husband, wife, or child, or friend, grace; but that he would break their hard hearts so they may submit to the grace of God that has already been bestowed upon them. I believe there is not a person here that is utterly void of all grace; but they do not walk according to it; they trample upon it. For everyone being endued with a measure of grace, through Christ, our duty therefore is to have a reverential regard to the grace of God, which we have received.
What grace have I received from God, may some say? I have received so much grace from God, (you may truly say), that I can tell when the devil brings a temptation to me; when he tempts me to uncleanness, theft, wrath, malice, or to deceive my neighbor, I have so much grace that I can tell I am tempted in such a respect; the grace of God shows me this is a temptation of the devil. But the question is, whether I am subject to the grace of God, and love his grace better than the profit or pleasure of a temptation? It comes as a bait, but the devil cannot make me do what he tempts me to; it is not in the power of all the devils in hell, or of his servants on earth, to make me do this evil thing. The light of my own conscience shows it to be a temptation. Now I am free and at my choice, whether I will love the profit and pleasure that comes with the temptation more than the grace of God. I believe there is no one that has been tried by a temptation, but they can say so. I leave it to him who searches and tries all your hearts, and knows your thoughts, to judge whether you joined with the temptation, that you might have the profit and pleasure of it, or joined with his grace, that thereby you might have resisted the temptation. You that have done the one and the other, tell me which is the best bargain; when you have joined with the temptation, that you might have the profit and pleasure that came along with it; or when you joined with the grace of God that showed you the evil and danger of the temptation. The same God speaks to you that spoke to Cain: if you do well, shall you not be accepted? and if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. If you have yielded to a temptation, sin lies at the door; there is a breach made between God and your soul.
The same man at another time, having suffered so deeply for it, being judged by his own conscience, when he meets the temptation again, he says, let the profit or pleasure go where it will, if I yield to this temptation I cannot go to God but as a criminal to a judge; let the profit or pleasure be what it will, I will not join with this temptation. Can the devil force you to comply with this temptation? No, if you are true to the grace of God in your own heart, it will make you able to resist the strongest devil in hell. Christ has purchased for the sons and daughters of men a power to withstand the devil's power, and all his devices and temptations, and you shall obtain victory, and have dominion over them. If you have a mind to grow in this dominion, when the devil comes to tempt you, resist him, and you shall, through the power of Christ, be enabled to overcome.
If Satan tells you of the profits and pleasures of this world, remember that the world passes away, and the lust of it, but peace with God endures forever. By the grace of God you will be able to overcome the devil and all his angels. This power is given to all that believe and obey the gospel. If you would have benefit by it, you must be exercised in resisting of temptation, and have regard to the grace of God, and the workings of it in your own hearts; and then you will be able to say, when a temptation comes, promising profit and pleasure, how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? Turn your eye to God's favor, which is better than life, and you will be more than conquerors; you will say the fear of God seized upon my soul, and the grace of God came to my assistance, and was as a bulwark against temptation. Here praises will go up to God; here will be occasion for you to speak good of his name. Remember what David said, my soul, praise the Lord, that has delivered me from the horrible pit. Thus David and the saints of old praised God in their day, and why should not we? They breathed forth living praises and thanksgivings for the deliverances wrought for them; and shall not we do it?
Now this cannot be done without thinking upon his name, the name of that God that made us. Here I live in the world, I live and breathe still, I have health, and strength, and an estate, how did I come by all this? Did I make myself? No, there is a God that gave me life, and breath, and being; he holds forth the hand of mercy to gather me to himself, and to redeem me from all iniquity, that I might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness, all the days of my life. If I believe this, I shall rejoice in him, and love and praise him, and daily wait upon him for the accomplishment of his work. He desires not the death of sinners. If you believe the Almighty, it is impossible for him to lie, all things are possible to him except that; he said, he does not wish the death of him who dies. What would he have then? He would have you turn and live. What means does he use? What I would have done I would use means to accomplish it. You would say, what means has he not used? What is it that God does more wish for than for men to repent, return and live, and be happy forever? He has created them, and given them life and breath, and continued his grace to them, that they might have time to prepare for eternity; and he has given his good spirit to instruct them, but they have rebelled against him. He has sent forth his word, the gospel of salvation, which has been preached to them, and he has waited to be gracious and exercised much patience and long-suffering towards them; so that I may say, what means has he omitted? He has planted them as a vineyard, in a very fruitful hill; and he has fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and made a wine-press in it, and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought wild grapes. Judge, I pray you said the Lord, between me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?
But notwithstanding all your unfruitfulness, the day of your visitation is continued; the Lord is willing to show mercy to your souls. This is all the Lord your God requires of you, that you would think upon his name, believe in him and trust in him, and wait upon him for the operations of his grace in the use of his ordinances, and your attendance upon them, and hearkening to his voice, and obeying it, and so to hear that your souls may live.
I will affirm, that there is none of you here present, whether you are Quakers or not, but you may meet with the divine operations of the power of God in your own hearts, if you will regard it, and when you meet with these operations and regard them not, I cannot help it. If you will resist the good things of the Spirit of God, I cannot help it. If you will to be of that mind, always to resist the Holy Ghost; if as your fathers did, so do you, then you must all perish, both you and your fathers. There is no escaping but by being subject to Christ Jesus, and his quickening Spirit; if there are any divine operations that you meet with in your own hearts, let me persuade you to submit and have regard to them; for I know the devil is near at hand; and when people meet with divine operations in their souls, which humbles them, brings down their pride, and convinces them of the danger of their condition, he lies in the way and suggests some poisonous thing that takes off the edge of these operations, that they may dislike them. It is true, they meet with the convictions of sin; but they reason they have that faith and belief in Christ, which in the sight of God excuses all their sins that can be laid to their charge, both past and to come.* If I would look, say they, to the divine operation, or anything wrought in me, it were enough to make me mad; I look wholly to the merits of Christ; my mind is wholly fixed upon him who is the author of eternal salvation; his meritorious sufferings and obedience can obliterate and blot out all my sins.
My friends, I tell you, many a poor soul has split upon this rock by undervaluing the divine operations of the Spirit upon their hearts; they make a false and wrong application of the merits of Christ, which indeed are so great that nobody can overvalue them; but we must not make a false application of them, for this purpose was the Son of God manifest, that he might destroy the works of the devil; he takes away the guilt of sin, not that you might live in it still. Whoever believes in Christ, shall have power over their sins and not be under the dominion and power of sin; sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law, but under grace. But God be thanked, you were the servants of sin; though you have obeyed from the heart, the form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness, Rom 6:17-18.
Objection: But you will say, I am guilty of a great deal of sin already, what shall become of me for the guilt I have contracted?
If we confess and forsake our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness; and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin, 1 John 1:7. Here is a true application of Christ, his merits and righteousness; when there is a confessing of sin to God, and a forsaking of it, here is an offering and a sacrifice made to God by our Lord Jesus Christ for the expiation of sin; he has by his precious blood purchased the pardon of all my sins, that he might present me to God without spot or blemish; here is a true application of the righteousness of Christ, but how can I apply it to myself while I live in sin?
Here God's witness in the conscience of a sinner pleads against the sinner; when he endeavors to believe that his guilt is taken away, and all his sins, past, present, and future, are pardoned, while he continues to live in sin, and sin has yet dominion over him. Take heed you are not split upon this rock; it you are humble Christians, you will think upon the name of the Lord; and when you find the operation of God's power creating good desires in you to hate sin and love righteousness, you will then believe; you will then pray to the God of all grace; for the prayer of the faithful is acceptable to him. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much, James 5:16.
Let your supplication therefore be poured forth unto God, to endow you with power and wisdom to subdue all your spiritual enemies, and to conquer your sexual desires, and the inordinate desires and affections of your own hearts, that you may take up the cross of Christ and follow him as your great pattern, and in his name, and by the help and assistance of his Holy Spirit, you may know how to overcome all temptations.
His Prayer after Sermon
MOST glorious Lord God! Wonderful is your grace; power over, all, which you have revealed and made manifest in this your blessed day. Your arm, O Almighty God! is stretched forth; you have touched a remnant with a sense of your divine love, whom you have gathered unto your name; you have revealed your great salvation, and therewith you have made glad the souls of your children; you have endeared yourself unto us by the discovery and manifestation of your abounding love, who loved us when we were strangers and preserved us when we were enemies, and brought a glorious day of visitation upon us, and opened our eyes to behold the light of it, so that we were a people engaged to speak good of your name. You have declared and manifested to the sons and daughters of men your good will and your universal grace that you are daily extending to them, that all may be made partakers of the riches of your house, and of your great salvation which by the Lord Jesus Christ you have ordained.
And, O you powerful God of Life! Since the day that you first gathered us, you have been with us, you have been our guide, and our eyes have been towards you for instruction; you have taught us and led us in the way in which you would have us to walk; you have led us, Lord, in the way everlasting with the poor, the humble, and the meek of the earth; and you have placed our feet, O Lord, near the everlasting mountain, which you have exalted upon the high hills of the earth, and you have revealed the glory and the splendor of your house, your holy dwelling place, and have raised breathings in the hearts of your people, that they may dwell in your courts forever. And now, Holy Father! You have gathered a remnant and brought a peculiar people to trust in your name; but still we do all that we do by you; you must be our keeper, you must be our preserver, therefore we wait upon you; we expect all from your hand, therefore our applications are unto you, that from day to day, and from time to time, we may find your living presence in the midst of us,
And O living God of Life! You have given your children great experience that you are a God near at hand to us, in our trials, in all our exercises; as our eyes have been turned to you, you have preserved us, and revealed your heavenly power, O Lord, in preserving and delivering your church and people, that they may bear a testimony in their generation for your great love, and the great salvation that you have wrought for them and made them partakers of.
Now blessed God of Life! The desires and supplications of your people are unto you, for the glorifying of your power, and the exalting of your glorious name.
O Lord! Let the mighty operation of your power bow down all stout and stubborn ones, that have rebelled against you, and that have withstood the tenders of your grace, and the notions and strivings of your Holy Spirit. You are able to bow them, and to break their stony hearts; you are able to speak effectually to their souls, and to make them submit themselves to you.
Holy and living Father! Let the progress of your word and gospel be great in our day; let it have a free course and spread itself mightily to those who believe not, to beget a seed of faith in their souls, that they may believe in your name and trust in your power, and wait to see the great work of redemption wrought for the salvation of their immortal souls, before the day of their visitation goes over.
Powerful God of Life! Your little remnant which you have redeemed, keep them by your power, and preserve them in uprightness and cleanliness of mind; preserve them in the places and stations where you have appointed them to dwell, that so in all the trials, and tribulations, and distresses, that may come upon them, they may be quiet and still, and in patience possess their souls; and let them have strong consolation in that everlasting covenant that in your Son you have made with them and revealed to them; and let them be not moved and tossed with the hurries of this world, with the tumults and disorders that evil men make in it, and through storms and tempests that are raised; but let their hearts and minds be stayed upon you, that they may know how to behave themselves towards you and one another, and towards all that are without; and thereby glorify and magnify your great name by the beauty of holiness shining in their conversations, which may reach the consciences of men, that all that see them may say, these are the plants that the right hand of God has planted, and see the fruits that are brought forth from that root of life revealed in Christ Jesus.
Powerful God of Life! Carry on your own work in this city and the whole nation, and in other places among the people which you have chosen and gathered to yourself out of this world.
Powerful God of Life! Remember those who groan in sin by making their moan to you, that they cannot lay hold of consolation for their souls. Prepare them for that consolation that their souls are longing after. They are night and day wrestling with you in earnest prayer, but what will all their wrestling signify, except your word and the power of your grace assist them, and teach them to lay hold of your strength, that they may fight the good fight of faith, that they may get the victory, and rejoice in your salvation, and see the glory of it? You see how the children of men are working and contriving many ways for their own salvation; make them to know that all their own ways and inventions are in vain.
Blessed God of Life! Confound the devices of the ungodly that seek to lay waste your heritage; and all those who you have gathered by your word, preserve them that they may serve you with sincere and upright minds all the days of their lives; and offer up daily thanksgivings and living praises to you, the true and living God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent, through your eternal Spirit, who alone are worthy, God over all, blessed forever and ever. Amen.
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