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A Sermon preached at the Quakers' Meeting-House,
in Grace-Church-Street, London, Oct. 7, 1694.
AS it is the great concern, so it ought to be the great care of every one to have their minds truly exercised towards God, in that spirit wherewith he hath visited the sons and daughters of men, for the gathering of people unto this the testimony of truth, in the plain evidence and demonstration of the Spirit, hath been brought forth in our age and generation : the word hath been preached, the living word, whereby every one may come to a right understanding by the knowledge of it and the sense of it in their own hearts; the entrance whereof giveth light, and giveth understanding tothe simple, and this is that wbich worketh the heart into a believing frame, truly to believe in him whom God hath sent. This is the work of God, that ye believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom bis heavenly Father hath sent, and that by believing he may be truly confessed as he hath been by a remnant, whom the Lord hath rais. ed up by his own invisible power, and hath fitted and prepared them to bear testimony of that which they have heard and seen with their eyes, which they have looked upon, and which their hands have handled of the word of life, and the living testimo,
nies in our days did spring from thence as in ages past; the hearts of the servants of the Lord were exercised towards him; this is the end of our preaching, to bring people to this, that they may know and be sensible of the word of life, of that which doth quicken and make souls alive unto God, that they may come to know and experience that true and living faith that stands in the power of God.
For which end the apostles and the primitive believers were witnesses, whom God raised up as true and faithful ministers of Christ : Tbey preached Christ; they preached bis sufferings, they preached Christ crucified, as the apostle declares, i Cor. ii. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring untu you the testimony of God; for I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him erucified; and I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling; and my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.'
The apostle who was crucified with Christ, he that had a real knowledge of his sufferings ; he that had a spiritual and living knowledge; a sanctifying and saving knowledge of Christ Jesus, who was sensible of a crucified state with Christ, and that in weakness and fear, and much trembling, still having an eye to the power of Christ, and to the life of Christ, to bring them to know their faith standing in that power. O my Friends, this is tbe design of true and living ministers and preachers of the everlasting gospel ; this is their travail, and this is the intent of the labour of those whom God hath called, who have kept their station and their habitation in that life, in that spirit, in that divine grace,
which God through his dear Son, hath made them partakers of. It was prophesied of Christ, That when he should make his soul an offering for sin, he should see his seed, and that he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand, and that he shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.' My Friends, Christ himself travailed in soul, that a seed might be brought forth to serve the living God, and that he might see his seed and the blessed effect of his travail; the afflictions, travails, and sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ were both inward and outward. Now they who know him truly, and have a living faith in bim, they know a being crucified with Christ, a dying with him, a being baptised into the likeness of his death, that they may arise and come forth in the likeness of his resurrection. O my Friends, it is good for every one of you to be serious and considerate, and to be inward in your minds towards God, that your hearts may be affected with those things which concern your everlasting peace and happiness, that so you may come io be crucified to the world and the corruptions of it, having the flesh with the affections, passions, and lusts of it crucified, that you may live unto God, that you may so live in this present world, as to have boldness at the great day of judgment; for it is certain, the consideration of the judgment to come, is very terrible to many people, if they will but susier the serious thoughts of it to take place in them; and the reason is, they have not made their peace with God; they are not reconciled in their minds, as they ought to be, to the heavenly gist of God, that he bath given to them, whereby they, may know the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom he bath sent, which is life eternal. What is the reason why Felix trembled, Acts xxiv. 25, when Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come?' There was a witness in him, that did an
swer to that serious sort of reasoning, and that was ready to shew him, that he was wanting in those matters of justice, temperance, moderation, and a real belief of the judgment to come ; . And the thought of it was terrible.' There is a witness near to people, if they come to examine their own hearts, and look into their own state, and deal impartially with themselves, that will shew unto them what they are, and where they are ; that will shew them what it is that hath made them unfit for communion with God, and unmeet for the kingdom of God; and that they must of necessity be born again, or they cannot enter into it. They are no fit subjects for that kingdom, if they be not subject to the witness of God in them, to the light of Christ within them, to the law of the Lord in their hearts, they are not fit for the heavenly kingdom.
And therefore, my Friends, let every one mind the visitation of the Lord; mind the appearance of his light and grace in you; that you may therein wait upon the Lord, have your minds drawn out of the earth, out of the world, and out of the lusts and corruptions of it. That the work of the Lord, the work of a true and living faith, heart purifying faith, all may be sensible of. That none may rest themselves contented, either only with a notion of faith, or with the bare profession of faith, either of God or Christ, or the holy Scripture ; nor yet with being only convinced and persuaded of the way of the Lord testified of amongst us, as many are: But let every one give up themselves to obey the truth, and look upon it as the love of God, that he hath opened the understandings of men by his light and grace: And that he hath affected their hearts in some measure towards himself, his way and truth. There are many who have a better opinion of the true people of God, than they have had heretofore; the prejudice is allayed and brought down in many; and the enmity whereby they were made
uncapable either of trying all things, or of holding fast that wbich is good. So that as the Lord opens their hearts and inclines them towards himself; they depart from iniquity. My Friends, pray mind the appearance of his grace, and the working of his Spirit in you; that you may know the fear of God to take impression upon your hearts, and to have place there; and there you will feel it to be what the Scripture saith of it, “That it is a fountain of life to depart from the snares of death, and keep those from the snares of death that continue and abide in it;' and the secrets of the Lord shall be made known to them that fear bin, and he will shew them his covenant; and wherein any are short in understanding, and want wisdom, the Lord will not be wanting to supply them, and help them if they wait upon himn in his fear; but if the fear of God be rejected, and the light that teacheth it be turned away from, then people are not fit to receive counsel and wisdom, nor to know the secrets of the Lord, nor the things of God, which are only made known and revealed by the Spirit of Gud.
Fur (saith the apostle, 1 Cor. ii. 11,) what man knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of a man which is in him ? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.' There is . no true sanctified knowledge any of us have of the things of God, but what is given us of the Spirit of God; For eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither bath it entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love hiin; but these things God hath revealed to us by the Spirit.'
The mystery of the sufferings and of the cross of Christ, are revealed also by the Spirit: What things were gain to me (saith the apostle) those things I counted loss for Christ: Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for