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God's Wonderful Love to Mankind
Delivered by Stephen Crisp at St. Martin's-Le-Grand, Nov. 9, 1690
IT is our great concern, while we are in this world, to promote the glory of God, to work out our own salvation, to endeavor, as much as in us lies, to be aware, and to help one another to be aware of the love of God to us. This is the only thing that can give us true comfort, to have a sense of the love of God to us in Christ Jesus, God's wonderful love to mankind, in Jesus. There is nothing more certain than that all of us are partakers of the love of God, which is imparted to us daily, and we live not a day without it. However if we are not careful, we can spend many days without it, and without the comfortable sense of it; and that is the reason that a great many of the sons and daughters of men show forth in their lives so little love to God because they have so little sense of his love to them; for the apostle John, who had attained to a great knowledge and experience in Christianity, plainly declared, that the reason for the we have to God is, because he first loved us; and I do not believe that any man can have any true love to God, who does not sense the love of God to him.
And as for those temporal blessings that we enjoy in this life, as health and strength, and our very breath and being, and well-being, that every day and hour are continued, they are from the love of God to us, and the lengthening out of our lives and permitting us opportunities for the good of our souls, as evident tokens of God's love and good-will to us. Where these things are not considered and regarded, men live like the beasts that perish, and do not regard him who made them, but go on in disobedience to him, dishonoring his great name, and heaping up wrath upon their own souls. And so does every man, while he remains in his natural state and condition; for there is in every man by nature the seed and root of all sin and rebellion against God, which makes a man return evil to God for the good he does to us.
And I believe we are all of us aware, in some measure, of the depravity that has fallen upon all mankind, and of that enmity to God, and that aversion that is in men to the doing the will of God; and in every man are impotence and inability to the reforming of his ways, and the changing of his heart, and leaving off his corrupt and vicious inclinations, without the divine help and assistance of the grace and Spirit of God.
Now those who are thus far aware of their alienation by nature from the Lord, are also aware that the time they have here is the only time they have for their preparation and being fitted for that everlasting kingdom, which we all would enjoy; how ought this to affect the mind of every one, that while they have time, they might prize it and improve it, and come to an inward sense of the love of God, so that they might have a love raised in their hearts again to God? For people will never be obedient to God, until they love him, or ever love him, until they are sensible of his love to them.
Therefore, what is the means and way of God's making himself known to the sons and daughters of men; that means, and that way, everyone ought to embrace? What is the way every one ought to be acquainted with it, and have the exercise of their minds in it, that so we might come to the knowledge of God, and might know, by an experiential and sensible feeling, the kindness of God to us.
And truly friends, those who intend to spend their time and exercise themselves in the consideration of the mercy and kindness of God, they have work enough for their whole life-time, to consider and contemplate the manifold mercies of God bestowed upon them; for we have our life and breath from him, whom the whole world obeys, and serves [except fallen man]. God, that made all living creatures, has created us, and preserved us; he has had long-suffering and patience towards us until now, and he is yet mindful to do us good, which is evidently manifest by the invitations and promises he has made us, and the workings of his Holy Spirit that he has made us acquainted with.
For who is there in this assembly, that God has not made sensible of the offers of his grace, and invitations to repentance and reformation, so those who live loosely and vainly in the world, might turn to the Lord with all their hearts and consider their ways and doings? God has waited to be gracious to the sons and daughters of men, and his mercy and patience has been beyond all human patience, which is beyond the patience that you ever bestowed upon any; what the Lord has bestowed upon you; therefore I entreat you, in the love of God, let this consideration sink deeply into your spirits, that you may be affected with the kindness of God, and his patience towards you, and his longsuffering, while you have been sinning against him.
But some will say, how shall I know this? After what manner may I experience this love of God to me? How may I be sure that the Lord has a love for me?
My friends, it is not only temporal kindness that we enjoy from God; it is not only the lengthening out of our days, that is an evident token of the love of God to us; but there is a demonstration and manifestation of it, that is universally extended to the sons and daughters of men, in that he has sown his word in them, and has sown his truth and his grace in their hearts, that every man, though he may be ever so wicked, ever so foolish and vain, yet he has many times checks and reproofs in his own heart. I know it, and I doubt not, but you do.
Consider where the principle originates that stops you in a course of sin, and checks and reproves you for sinning against the Lord? If you attend to it, and consider it, you will find it proceeds from God; it comes from him, and from him comes our life and breath; then people should be incited to receive the grace of God; the favor and mercy of God that he has bestowed upon them in order to their salvation. The scripture tells us that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. If you have any good, it came by Jesus Christ, and if you have any truth, it came by Jesus Christ, who is the fountain of truth, and the fountain of the grace of God. It is he by whom God has made himself known to the sons and daughters of men. It is Christ alone, whom God has ordained to be a Mediator between God and man so that he might be the minister of an everlasting covenant, which we are brought into with God; so that now people should come to the consideration of the way and means that God has ordained for their redemption, namely, that he has given Jesus, that great and unspeakable gift of his love and kindness, to the sons and daughters of men; here is grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ. How does it come? It comes into my heart. Though sin, lusts, and corruptions, perhaps, have a place in many, yet Christ has a place too; he has made his grave with the wicked, and was numbered with the transgressors; he was like the seed that lies under the clods, and is the least of all seeds, yet when it comes out of the ground, it rises high, and spreads abroad its branches, and brings forth fruit; this love of God, this unchangeable holy truth, is in everyone; why then should not every man be ruled and governed by it?
But some men will say, is truth better than falsehood, and grace better than lust and corruption?
You may see that, by the light that is discovered in the inward parts. Let every man turn inward to the grace of God, turn to that light that shows itself in the creature, and see what it will do for us. This is the doctrine with which the apostle was sent; he was sent with a commission to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. Why did he do it? It was for this end, that men might have remission [release from the bondage] of sin, and that they might come to an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. So that this gospel is the same that it ever was, though men have many ways of preaching, and several methods and ways of declaring the truths of the gospel; blessed be God the apostolic doctrine is preached again, and the blessed gospel has the same power attending it that was in former days, and may have the same effect; and that this may be the portion of every one of you, is the end of our labor. And we have in our eye only two things.
First, to discharge a good conscience in the sight of God, who has given us his word to preach, and to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God; that we might keep ourselves free from the blood of all men.
Secondly, another end is the desire that God has placed in our hearts that all men everywhere might be saved; this is God's will. If any are damned it is their own will, and the devil's will; this is God's will, that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance and be eternally saved. Now in this work of your salvation, we would have regard to him who sent us to preach the everlasting gospel, and we would discharge ourselves faithfully, and be made manifest in your consciences, that the benefits of the gospel might come to be yours; that you might answer the purpose of God, in sending Christ: to be the Savior of mankind; you must turn from sin to God, and then you will find the blessing that comes by Jesus, which is to turn every one from his evil ways.
You may read this in a book, and you may also plainly read it in your hearts. The Lord Jesus Christ has given you light to distinguish between good and evil; if you do good, you may make a comfortable reflection upon yourselves, and this will be your rejoicing, the testimony of your conscience on that account; but if you do evil, though all men do justify you and commend you, yet you will be condemned in yourselves; so that you have in yourselves what distinguishes between things that differ in their nature and kind, and you have a little enlightening by the knowledge and understanding you have received concerning the things that are pleasing and displeasing to God. If after you know this, you will go on in a way displeasing to God, he will at length be too hard for you, and plunge you down into the abyss of his wrath to all eternity.
After persons are satisfied and enlightened with the light of Christ, and come to the experience of things in themselves, they will love the light and walk in the light; but there are many in this age that have read the scriptures plentifully, and yet still go on in a way of sin, they cannot love the light that reproves them. He who does evil hates the light, and the dawning of the day is as the shadow of death to him; and it brings nothing but condemnation upon such persons, so that they do not love the light, though it is evident they have it and enjoy it; and it shall be their condemnation whether they will or not; if they do not love the light and embrace it, it will never be to their salvation.
God has given Christ to be a light to the Gentiles, and his salvation to the ends of the earth. He is the true light that enlightens every man that comes into the world; the apostle John tells you the genealogy of the word of God; in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God; and the same was in the beginning with God; all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made; in and the life was the light of men; the life of the eternal word was the light of men; what men do you mean? I answer, he is the true light that lights every man that comes into the world. He extends his light to every man, but it is condemnation to every man so long as he continues to be a sinner against God. This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.
Now all men are by nature dead in sins and trespasses; after our first parents fell into sin they were dead to God: in the day that you eat thereof you shall die; when they had eaten the forbidden fruit, they did not die as to outward appearance, but they died as to that communion they had with their Maker; in this dead state lie all the son's and daughters of Adam; but, as our Savior speaks, though they are dead, they shall live again; Christ is the Lord from Heaven, a quickening Spirit; this is the object of our faith that has been extended and offered to mankind ever since the fall; there is no name under Heaven, no other power or spirit by which a man can be saved; this great Mediator, the eternal Son of God, is the light that lights every man that comes into the world. Faith in Christ is the same that ever it was, despite the many forms of worship among the sons of men; some of God's setting up, and some of men's setting up; yet among all these, the object of faith is the same, and said the same.
In the 11th chapter of the Hebrews, that little book of martyrs, the apostle there gives you a catalogue of the mighty things that have been done by the faith of God's people. He begins with Abel: by faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it, he being dead, yet speaks; by faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death, and was not found, because God translated him, for before his translation, he had this testimony, that he pleased God;and so the apostle there goes to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. And what shall I say more, said he, for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Sampson, and Jeptha, of David, Samuel, and of the prophets, who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. All these great and noble things were done by faith; it was the aspect their souls had upon Christ the Mediator between God and man; it was their trust and reliance upon God through Christ the Mediator that did support and uphold them in all they did and suffered. This faith is still the same.
There are many faiths in the world beside, but they will prove only the faith of hypocrites. Some have a faith, that if they do this and the other work,* they say you may trust your souls upon these good works; but this is not the faith of Abraham, the father of the faithful. But some called Christians are gone so far in the doctrine of merits, that they think they can do enough for their own salvation, and for their friends and relations too; that there may be more merit still over and above, that others may have benefit by the merit of their works of effort beyond their duty. But this is not the faith of Abraham, and other saints, by which they wrought such wonders in the world. I would not have men trust at all in their own works for salvation, but trust in Christ alone, who is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him.
Objection: But some will object that we are taught the doctrine of faith in Christ, and justification by him.
Well, for my part, my tongue shall as soon drop out of my mouth, as oppose the doctrine of being justified by faith in Christ. But, let me tell you, this may be misapplied. If a man believes that he is justified by faith in Christ, and yet knows, in his own conscience, that he is condemned, he believes a lie; he is seduced and deceived. A man cannot be justified by Christ, when the Spirit of Christ condemns him. Such a one, when he comes to lay down his head upon his dying pillow, all his faith will fly away. I have met with some instances, lamentable instances, of those who were called Christians, who have made a profession of religion, and at last have laid down their heads in sorrow. If this is your mistake, consider, while you have time, that you may die in peace.
Now the proposition and tender of the love of God to mankind, has always carried that limitation with it, that every one in the world ought to observe; if a man hopes to be saved by Christ, he must be ruled by him. It is contrary to all manner of reason, that the devil should rule a man, and Christ be his Savior. The whole tenor of the New Testament is against it, (pray read it as often as you please, for it is a good exercise), you will find the true Christian's faith to be this: that he that has faith in Christ has an operation upon him for the cleansing his heart, purifying and purging his conscience from dead works, that he may serve the living God; though he had previously been a servant of the devil, it will make him leave his former servitude, and bring him under the influence of another law, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which will make him free from the law of sin and death. The apostle sets down the several conditions he had passed through:
There was a professing life he formerly lived, but he was slain by the power of the commandment; it laid him in the dust as a slain man; when he was in a slain condition he found out that law in him, which was the law of sin and death, and this caused a combat and a war in him; I find a law, said he, that when I would do good, evil is present with me; for I delight in the law of God in the inner man; but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Now this brought him to a poverty of spirit, into a sense of his miserable condition, and then he cries out, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?
Now some people in this day, they are like the apostle, they have a law in their members warring against the law of their minds; the good that they would do they do not, and they can go no further. But the apostle Paul did reach further, though he did not in that state know deliverance; yet he had a faith that he would be delivered, and that he would not be miserable all his days. Thus having led the Romans into the several states through which he passed, he brings them to a further state, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. And now there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. How shall we know this? They walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. Now Paul had come to that sanctified state, that state of freedom and liberty which Christ Jesus will bring all those unto that believe in him.
Holy men, in former days, experienced and found a great strife and warfare in their own hearts; they all wished to do well, and exercise a conscience, void of offence, towards God and towards man; but there was a law of sin that warred in their members. If we yield to it, it leads to sin and death; but if we yield ourselves to the law of the spirit of life, there is a power that is derived from the Mediator, that will translate the soul out of the kingdom of darkness and sin, which the devil is the prince of, and bring it into the kingdom of God's dear Son.
There must be a real change wrought in us before we can come to God, and to fellowship and communion with God, which alone can make the soul happy. Let this be the exercise of every one of us to adore and magnify the great mercy and the kindness of God, that he has not withdrawn his spirit from you, but has placed a monitor in your bosoms that calls upon you to cease to do evil, and learn to do well, and to consider that the wages of sin is death. Here is a sin, I may commit it; there is a temptation before me, but I know there is a bait and a hook. I may swallow it if I choose, but if I do, it will be my ruin. Do I wish to come to eternal death, and have my portion with liars and wicked persons in the kingdom of darkness, where the worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched? Or would I have my portion with saints and angels? If I would have my portion with the blessed in the kingdom of God when I die, I must walk in the way that leads to it; but the gate is strait and the way narrow, and few there are that find it. Labor then to be one of those few.
Objection: But what signifies our labor, (some may say), if we can do nothing that is good, not so much as think a good thought? What signifies our labor? All the labors and endeavors in the whole world cannot make a man happy.
I now speak to a people to whom God promises the help and assistance of his grace and Spirit, and the visitations of his love and power; you must now endeavor to do something. If a man endeavors, with the help of God, he may do a great deal of good, and shun a great deal of evil. Though all our endeavors, in our own power and strength can signify nothing, yet they are required by God, and by joining them with his grace, and laying hold of opportunities, by divine assistance, we may do what God will accept. But if a man does anything in his own power and strength, whether prayer, hearing, reading, meditation, or any other duty, he might as well not have done it.
I would consider you as those whom God has followed with his grace and the manifestation of his spirit; this is given to every man to profit withal, and every man has opportunity to work with it; but he must work while it is day, for the night comes when no man can work.
Let every one of us that are now met together, labor to be sensible of the love of God to us, and love him above all, and express our love by a willing and persevering obedience, that we may have the love of God shed abroad upon our hearts by the Holy Ghost, and offer up living praises to him through Jesus Christ, who has loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Salvation from Sin by Jesus Christ
Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Devonshire-House August 9, 1691
IT is a general doctrine in the world that no man by any means can ever be set free from sin in this life. This is universally received among almost all Christians, in all churches; and though they differ ever so much in other things, yet they agree in this; so that this doctrine has gotten a controlling grip in the world, and it is accounted a great delusion, a heresy, and a grand error for any to question the truth of it.
Now while a man is of that belief, that there is an impossibility of living without sin, and of breaking down the kingdom of Satan in any one soul in the world, how can men hope or believe that righteousness should prevail in the heart of one man? There is neither king nor beggar, nor bishop nor a gospel Minister, but the devil must have a rule and government in him, so long as he lives in the world. As long as this is believed, it is not possible that the other belief should take place; it is madness to think that I must be under the rule and government of Satan if I am under the government of the Son of God. And it is still greater madness to say, that Christ and the devil are both my governors and rulers. It is prodigious folly and madness to speak after this manner.
This belief prevails over all men; over the wise, and mighty, and noble, and learned, that they can never be freed from the power of sin in this world, but that the devil will lead them into sin every day; let men be ever so sober, ever so abstemious in their lives; let them spend ever so many hours in prayer every day; let them come to meetings and hear sermons, and write them, and repeat them, and do what they will, here is a bar of unbelief that lies in the way, that makes men depart from the living God, and his power, and lose the benefit they shall receive from Christ. And therefore they go to obtain it another way, that is, to have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them. By imputed righteousness they shall be pure and holy in the sight of God, when they are polluted in their own eyes; and when they see their daily failings, infirmities and corruptions, yet God may not see them; but that he sees them holy, just and righteous in his Son.
What strange kind of doctrine is this? I must presume that God will see me in his Son, Jesus Christ, when I never was in Christ. How can this be? He that is in Christ is a new creature; old things are done away and all things are become new. But if there are old things remaining still, and I have not become new, shall I presume that I am in Christ, and that God will see me in his Son? When people come to use the understanding that God has given them, they will look upon themselves as barred out by their unbelief, that the nations have drunk in; and it is as sweet to them as the honey and the honeycomb [which is what the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her (the Whore of Babylon's) fornication, the wine of her fornication being the false promise of living in lusts and pride with no consequence of the fury of God.]
But, blessed be God, many have vomited it up already. If they would have based this doctrine upon man's natural inability, I would have said Amen to it; for I know that no one has a natural ability and power to deliver his own soul from sin and Satan. However, when they base their doctrine of perpetual sin on God's power, even though the Lord bares his arm and reveals his power, even though they come to have the grace of God, that still they could not be delivered from sin by God — this has blasphemy at the bottom of it. The previous reflected upon man's power, but this is disbelief of the power of God Almighty. That the devil has gotten such a power over us, that God has not power over us, nor can have power and dominion over us, so that in a whole nation he cannot have one man to serve him.
Much might be said in answer to this. When men are once willing to serve God, they will be willing to leave the service of the devil. There is no way to answer that good wish, but by waiting upon God for the revealing of his power. I pray to God that when you come to a meeting, you may say. “Lord, let your power go forth upon my heart; let your arm be made bare, and deliver me from the power and dominion of sin,” that some will say they feel God's power in a meeting; some will say "I feel the power of God working upon my heart, in order to the taking away sin and transgression, and giving me victory over it, through the Lord Jesus Christ." If they feel this power of God upon them, it is their duty to believe it and depend upon it. If I believe it, I must wait for the dictates of it, and believe that I shall be able to do all things through Christ that strengthens me. Then faith will come forth into works, and appear to be a living faith.
You may remember what the apostle James said, as the body without the Spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. As soon as a man comes to join with the mighty power of God, he will be able to withstand temptation. If he comes into evil company, he will deny them and not comply with them; he will find then something of a power and ability to serve God; though he has not come to perfection, yet he is walking in the way of holiness, and pressing forward towards the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. He will say, I have gotten a little nearer than I was towards the place where I desire to be, towards that life in which I desire to live and die; then let death come when it pleases God, it shall be welcome.
This is the wickedness of many in the world: they will not live such a life as they would be willing to die in. They cannot come to such a life unless it is given them to believe, for it is the gift of God; they must come to their governor and leader, which goes before, to the gift of God, which is eternal Life; then let death come when it will, if I have the gift of eternal life.
It is a miserable thing to think that there are many that have not laid hold of eternal life. It is manifested, that we may lay hold of it; there is a hand of faith joining with it. When a man comes to lay hold of eternal life, this life will purify him and sanctify him, at least by degrees, until he is wholly sanctified in body, soul and spirit. This is what the apostle writes in one of his epistles, your salvation is nearer than when you at first believed. When they first believed, their salvation was pretty far off. He describes salvation to be the end of their faith and hope.
When a man comes to be delivered from his sins, he shall serve God without fear; but when a man comes to live by faith, he shall overcome; he is a good soldier of Jesus Christ, and he must fight valiantly under his banner, until he gets a victory over all his enemies, and then his salvation is much nearer than when he at first believed.
I would I could say the same about some of you; for I fear your salvation is farther off. Some go straggling here and there, as sheep not having a shepherd; this is what my spirit is exercised with. You who are travelers towards the kingdom of God, it is the wonderful grace and mercy of God, that it ever came into your minds to seek first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof. Those who have obtained this mercy from God, shall receive and enjoy other mercies, better mercies, for blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. That is one mercy; but there is another mercy: they shall be filled; they shall be satisfied. When a man comes to this, he must take up a daily cross, and exercise self-denial; but if he follows Christ, he shall be satisfied; he shall then have nothing but peace and joy; he shall then sing praises and glory to God in the highest, and to the Lamb forever.
There is none can understand the glory that is laid up for those who take up their cross and follow Christ, and love his appearing. This is the greatest blessing that God gives to his people; he has sent his Son Jesus to bless us, and turn us from our iniquities. This is a blessing indeed. Take heed that you do not admit of any new terms. Do not think to bring God Almighty to new articles, the terms are declared and concluded on already. If you will obtain the blessing, you must be turned every one of you from your iniquities. The terms are already made, the law of God must be written in the heart and inward thoughts, and you must close with that power that will write the law in your hearts, and by traveling towards the kingdom of God, you will see the coming of that kingdom in you.
It was the joy of my soul, that I saw the kingdom of Christ would be set up in my heart, before it was set up there; then I saw the Lord's wonderful work, and there was a great alteration in me, when the Lord was pleased to wean me from the world's bread, and take off my heart, and wean it from worldly lusts, from the world's joys and pleasures, and fashions, and the world's honor and reputation. I say the Lord was pleased to wean me from, these things, and brought me to a holy resignation, to give up my heart to him. If I have joy, it must be from the Holy Spirit; if I have pleasure it must be in the presence of God, who in the multitude of my thoughts within me made his comforts delight my soul; and if he does not bring comfort to you, you will never have it; you cannot expect it until you do believe; and when you have faith, you can feel the kingdom of God within you. There must be the new birth, the work of regeneration, for except a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God; there must be a translation from, death to life, there must be a turning out of the old bottom and a fixing upon a new bottom, upon Christ Jesus the rock of ages; there must be a subjection to his holy power and government, else you cannot see the kingdom of God.
Many have gone on in a profession many years, and never saw the beauty of it; and every little trifle in the world has diverted them, and drawn them away. This, that, and the other pleasures have drawn away their hearts; they have seen the glory of the world, which has captivated them. But those who make a profession of the truth, and have seen the beauty and glory of the kingdom of Christ, they shun in horror the thought of returning to the world again, for the apostle said, it happened to them according to the true proverb: the dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire; it had been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. They made a profession, and were members of a visible church, and had a name to live, but they were inwardly dead, the sight of the kingdom of God is not given to such, but unto babes, who have a divine birth, and who desire the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby. God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes.
I speak to those who are here this day, that would receive some kindness from God, and that desire the knowledge of his ways; and desire that the mysteries of his kingdom may be revealed to you. Let your minds be retired and you shall find the great things belonging to your peace made known to you. We have spoken much of this, but I would not have you know it only by our sayings; I would have you go into yourselves to see whether God has not bestowed this grace and blessing upon you. If God has given you grace, do not turn it into wantonness; do not abuse the grace of God. What is it that you do when the grace of God has convinced you, that such and such a thing is sin, and if you do it, it will turn to your ruin? Dare you venture to commit sin after you are convinced of it? O take heed of doing despite to the spirit of grace, and of grieving the Holy Spirit, whereby you are sealed to the day of redemption.
I wish that the weight of this consideration might lie upon you, and that a holy dread and awe of God might be wrought in your hearts, that you might be kept from sinning against God. You know there is a general outcry against presumptuous sinning, sinning against light. Why should not we all cry out against it? It is a most dreadful thing for any man to sin against his knowledge and conviction; if any of us have been guilty of sinning against light, let such a one say, “I have done iniquity, I will do so no more;” and enter into covenant with the Lord, and say, “O Lord, so far as you have revealed your will unto me, I will obey it; I will delight to do your will, O God, though I cross my own will. Whatever I cross, I will not cross God's Holy Spirit, by which I may be sealed to the day of redemption. I will never do this though I hazard my chief interest in the world.” This is the temper of a true Christian, and I pray that God will make you all of this mind.
And now my friends, you that desire to see this great work wrought in yourselves, commit the whole work to God, and trouble not yourselves about it. I am sure God will carry on his own work, and bring down the devil's kingdom, and rebuke that unclean spirit that is gone forth over the whole nation, and pour out abundantly of his Holy Spirit to carry on a glorious reformation. This I believe God will certainly do, from what he has wrought in my own soul. I do not know what instruments are to be employed in the work, I leave that to the Lord; but the kingdom of Christ shall be advanced, and it shall be outwardly, and a broom of destruction shall sweep away all his enemies from the earth, and the wrath of God shall burn against them; but there is a stubbornness and hardness of heart that has been upon the nations of the world, and something has stood in the way in all generations.
But, however, I am sure we all may well say, that Christ is the Savior of all men, but especially of those who believe. He has saved this city and nation from the plagues and vengeance that hang over us. Many years the Lord has spared us, and waited to be gracious for a long time, to see if we will at last turn to him. How long the Mediator will intercede on our behalf, we cannot tell; there is a time when the long-suffering of God will come to an end. God has brought a scourge upon the nations round about us, and the flames of his wrath have kindled upon them, and destruction has overtaken them; how soon it may be our lot, we know not. All our money, our silver and gold, and valor and courage, will not be able to ward it off, if the Lord but blows upon us. It is even at the door; there is but one way to save us, and that is turning to the Lord, and crying to the Lord for the continuance of his mercies and long-suffering, and patience towards us. In this cry to the Lord, let us all unite, that are lovers of the nation, and let us join our earnest supplications in this work, seeing the Lord has made us the monuments of his mercy and preserving goodness.
We have been continually surrounded with war and blood, and flames and destruction; and the cry of the orphans has been heard from other nations. And while they have been consumed with flames, and deluged in streams of blood, we have sat under our own vines and fig-trees; but judgments hang over the nation, and whether they will fall or not, the Lord knows. But what shall we do for the good of our nation, and cities and families, but labor every one, in the fear of God, to reform our lives, and to take heed that we sin not against the light, lest we die, and perish in the middle of those terrible judgments that hang over us.
Let us turn from our evil ways, and depart from all iniquity, that the kingdom of Christ may be set up in ourselves. It is the righteous in the nation that the Lord looks at, and for their sakes he will spare a nation. If there is a people among us that walk in humility, and lament and mourn for the abominations committed in the midst of us, God will have regard to them, and he will hear the cries and the supplications of a praying people.
Friends, you that cannot make use of sword and spear for the saving of a nation; you may do good by your prayers, and turning to the Lord with an unfeigned heart, and let your sincerity appear before him. If I would take a common prayer-book in my hands, and pray ever so devoutly and solemnly, if I am not sincere, what will that do? Or, if I pray without a book, or if I pray without a form, or reject the form that others have made for me, what will this avail? But the cry of the poor, and the sighing of the needy, and the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous has availed much for the saving of this nation many years.
Therefore, I exhort you all, as you love the nation, and as you love yourselves, and your families and relations, sin not against the Lord; for he is now setting up righteousness, equity, and justice, and it shall prevail in the nation. God has been pleased to gather in many, who have been enemies and are now turned from sin to God, led by the truth. And it is their greatest joy, now they are no longer servants of sin, but have now become the servants of God.
Now truth will prevail, and righteousness go forth as the morning sun, and we hope the Lord will show mercy to us for the glory of his own name, though we are an unworthy people. It will be a matter of joy and gladness to us, if the kingdom of God has come to us; then we may say our prayer is answered. We have often prayed: your kingdom come, and your will be done in earth as it is in Heaven. If the will of God is done, then I can do my own will no longer; then I can be led away by Satan no longer; the devil will have little power, if I do God's will on earth, as it is done in Heaven; then praises will arise in the hearts of every one that delights to do the will of God, and God will carry on his work for the glory of his own name, and for the redemption of his people, that Christ may be preached for salvation to the ends of the earth.
The Acceptable Sacrifice
Delivered by Stephen Crisp at Grace-Church-Street, July 3, 1692
I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God,
Strip yourselves of your former nature that controlled your conduct,
ALL people that would worship God and meet together for that purpose, they had need have a great reverence upon their minds, and a holy fear upon their spirits, that when they enter into the house of the Lord, and draw near to the living God, they might not offer the sacrifice of fools, but may offer to God what may be acceptable to him. For all worship, and all religion, and all offerings and oblations that ever were offered to God by any people, they have had a return unto the offerers and worshippers, either of acceptance or rejection. Many you know have been rejected though they have offered, and many have been accepted of God, and their offerings have been a sweet smelling savor in his nostrils; and, I hope, we are all of that mind, that we would be glad to have our worship, service, and offerings to God, accepted in his sight, and that our present assembling together might be for the better, and that everyone might have an answer of peace, and of acceptance in their bosoms; but that can never be unless men are qualified and prepared in their drawing near to God, and in all our offerings and worship that we perform, our hearts be prepared according to the preparation of the sanctuary, the preparation of God's dwelling and holy place.
The worshippers must be holy; there must be the fear of God, and a reverence of the great God upon their minds, before people can offer an acceptable sacrifice unto him, as the holy apostle said, Heb 11:6. He that comes to God must believe that he is; which signifies, that a preparation ought to be in the minds and hearts of people that would draw near to God; or perform any service or worship to God, they must have the knowledge of the God whom they worship, they must first know that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Here is a qualification for worshippers, for religious persons; as they expect when they meet together to find the Lord in the midst of them, they must be qualified accordingly, there must, be an awe upon their minds.
I am in the preference of God; I have an expectation from God that he will open his abounding treasury and minister some good unto me; or else to what purpose do people draw near to God?* It is because they would have something of him; but they must come in an humble petitioning frame; he gives grace to the humble. It is the lofty, the proud, those who exalt themselves, the fat and the full, that want nothing. These, said the prophet, the Lord knows from afar. A proud man or woman cannot draw near to God, the Lord looks upon them far off; nor do they partake of those divine and heavenly comforts and blessings, and counsels and instructions that the humble mind has the promise of and will certainly enjoy; the humble, God will teach. He will instruct the meek in his way , but what is this to the lofty mind? What is this to one that is exalted, and conceited and puffed up, and reckons himself full and lacking nothing, while he is swimming in the streams of pleasures of this world, and favors only the things of the earth, the pleasures of a sensual mind? These persons are not hungry, and so they are not fed; they are not thirsty, and so they never obtain what can satisfy the soul. Our Lord Jesus Christ pronounced a blessing upon those who hunger and thirst; but what is that to those who are full and lack nothing?
So my friends, in this and all other religious assemblies, a great care ought to be upon everyone, that their coming together to wait upon the Lord may be in that reverence and fear, and that hope and expectation at the hands of God, that they might be bettered by it, or else they all lose their labor, as Cain did; he wished to offer to God and offered sacrifice, but he was not accepted because his mind and heart were not right before the Lord; his sacrifice was rejected. It was before he had killed his brother. He had great guilt upon him before he had killed his brother; he wanted the qualification of well-doing; if you do well, shall you not be accepted? But if you do not well, sin lies at your door. He had gotten into evil doings, and an evil mind hindered his acceptance with God; so it does with all men and women in the world that meddle with religious worship, and sacrifice to God, if they meddle with evil doing. There must be a taking off the mind from the evil of sin and corruption, and the mind must be brought over to something that they have received from God before ever they can be accepted.
You know the general doctrine of all Protestants is, that we have no acceptance with God but through Jesus Christ. We have no way to please God, nor can do anything that shall be acceptable in his sight, but through only one Mediator. Now if I should go to worship God, or perform any religious duty without respect and deference to the sense and participation of the virtue and power of that only Mediator, how can I be accepted? And it has pleased God out of his infinite love to mankind, to send this great Mediator into the world, that every man that comes into the world is made a participant of something of the life and virtue of that Mediator. So you read, John 1:4,9, in him was life, and the life was the light of men, the true light that enlightens every man that comes into the world; and that with respect to men whether they are good or not, both good and bad, though all men are bad by nature. So that though they are children of wrath, and heirs of eternal damnation in their natural state, by reason of sin; yet for all that this one Mediator, in whom this light has shined, has sent forth his light among the sons and daughters of men, that is, the light of men, that enlightens everyone. So there is an offer made of something that presents itself to the view of every man; a good offer that if he applies his mind to it, he may have the good that comes through Jesus Christ. He may draw near to God; as bad as he is, he has some good, that God has bestowed upon men, both good and bad. There is no man barred for he has some truth in him; there is no man so ungodly, but that he knows what is pure and holy, what has reproved him, checked and convinced him of his ungodliness. This presents itself to the view of every man and woman, and calls them to repentance.
Now for men to make a show and pretence to worship, and not have regard to the glory of God, how can they draw near to God, or God draw near to them? Our Lord Jesus Christ said, that where two or three are gathered together in my name, I will be in the midst of them; but if people meet together in their sin and wickedness, if they have a loose and vain mind, and intend to go on in wickedness and sin; if they meet, they do not meet in Christ's name, but in the devil’s name. [Thinking to be worshiping Christ, they unknowingly worship the devil, who approves of sinners], and he is in the midst of them, and he works and rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience. So that this has been the ground and reason why many meetings upon this account [of people who still sin with no remorse or hope of stopping] have been fruitless as to the benefit of their souls, and the expectations of people have been frustrated as to their salvation; they have not met with that in which the blessing is, and to which the promise is made. The promise is not made to people whom the devil rules; there is no promise to such but the promise of eternal wrath to be executed upon them, with the devil and his angels to all eternity; if you can make that a promise.
The promise of life and salvation, which is recorded by the prophets and apostles, has always applied to the seed that is in the covenant with God. The covenant stands in what God said to Abraham: Gen 17:7, I will establish my covenant between you and me and your seed after you, and your seed after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto you, and to your seed after you. The covenant is made to Abraham and his seed, that is, with Christ Jesus the Mediator. It is he that brings to God those who trust in him and come to him; who comes to him, he will in no wise cast out; those who do not come to Christ, are cast off already. All men, by nature, are cast away already; if any of them will be saved, it is by coming to Christ, who is able to save to the uttermost and to make peace for them, and of two to make one new man; and to make peace between God and the soul.
There is a necessity for all people, who have any sense of their natural state and condition, that according to nature have no title to the kingdom of God, to be reconciled to God. By nature they cannot make a claim to righteousness and life; they cannot reconcile themselves to God by all their works; said the prophet Micah, will the Lord be pleased with a thousand rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man! what is good. And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God? Those who will be saved must lay hold of salvation in that way and method that the Lord God of Heaven and Earth has prescribed. He has prescribed a way for everybody to be saved; he would not have any one to perish, but that all should come to repentance, and obtain everlasting life. God has made a way that will serve everybody alike; thousands as well as ten; and all the world as well as one man. Now the way that God has made is turning out of the state into which they are fallen, and forsaking that governor that rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience, and closing with Christ, whom God has appointed to reign in everyone’s heart. People in Christendom will say they have closed with Christ. Do you not hope to be saved by Christ on the terms of the covenant? It is not crying, Lord, Lord, but doing the will of God; the terms are, all men must believe in Christ,* the eternal Son of God; and through the power of that faith they have in him, he comes to rule over them, and they become subject [as in obey his every command] to him. And if a believer is not subject to Christ, he is the same as an unbeliever; circumcision, or uncircumcision, avails nothing, but a new creature; and faith which works by love.
The covenant does not stand in mere words; if I conform to such articles, then I am a Christian; if I believe all the articles of the creed, then I am a Christian and a child of God. If a man will say, I believe, his say so is not sufficient. The condition of the covenant that God has made, is, that Christ shall rule and have the government of those souls that he presents to God. How should it is otherwise, seeing he is not to present any to God that are unclean? Christ has no commission to present any to God in their uncleanness and wickedness. He who believes must be cleansed and purified by him. If so, then that cannot be done, but by ruling over them. If they had the rule of themselves, they would be polluted, and be like water, whose current is stopped with dirt and mud, not running in its own proper stream. People will commit sin, when they have the rule of themselves; but when Christ presents people to God, and where they come to be led by him, they are cleansed and purified.
When the apostle describes true faith, he does it by this quality and property of it, it purifies the heart. All other faith is but the hope of the hypocrite; but real faith is the operation of God, said the apostle; and that faith works in an unclean heart to the cleansing of it, and in an impure heart to the purifying of it. If the heart comes to be purified, then it follows that the conduct must be pure also. No one does an ill work, or speaks an ill word, unless it is from an evil heart. Now if the axe comes to be laid to the root of the tree, and the word of the Lord operates in the heart powerfully, if ever so much evil is in it, the axe when laid to the root of the tree, will cut it down; the power of God will execute judgment upon every thing that is contrary to him; Christ is holy, harmless, and undefiled, and separate from sin and sinners, and though he extends his life and virtue to the life and soul of the most wicked man in the world, it never joins with their uncleanness, but keeps immaculate and undefiled in the heart of the worst of men.
Now this immaculate power that comes from Christ will purify the hearts of men and preserve them from evil thoughts, words and actions. This is the manifestation of the one Mediator that they must be governed by, else they cannot be presented spotless to God the Father. There is a necessity of coming to a Savior with more than just words and profession; we must come to him and heartily join with him. We have all joined with the devil; he has suggested, moved, and instigated, and people have followed his instigations and motions; there is no man who is not sensible of a devilish motion, why not then of a divine motion? Though now it has become a dreaded thing to say that we are moved by the Spirit of Christ, why not by that Spirit, as well as by the spirit of the wicked one? No man doubts but that there are motions of the devil which they are sensible of, that sometimes they have joined with him, and sometimes they withstand him. What is the reason that men should join with evil motions? There is no just reason for it. The reason why you and I withstand the motions of the devil, is because we find another motion conveyed into our hearts by the Spirit of God; if a man has one motion to commit uncleanness, he has another motion to keep himself pure; if he has a motion to speak a lie, he has another motion to speak truth. If there are two movers at the same time, in the same heart, with which shall we join? Shall I join with the devil's motion? If I find anything of the love of God in my heart, it will constrain me to mind the good motion, and make me withstand the evil motion; so that the moving of the Spirit of God is not such a wonder.
There are none who have not had bad motions in them, and they have also motions of the Spirit of truth; they have met with evil motions, and they have admired them too much. Then it is time to repent. If there is a distinction between a motion of the Spirit of truth, and a motion of the spirit of error, then I may boldly say, it is our duty to join with the Spirit of truth, and not with the spirit of error. If there is a desire in us to be saved from the wrath to come, then the way to be saved from God's wrath is to be saved from the cause of it; take away the cause and the effect ceases. The cause of God's wrath being kindled against man is sin, for God had no wrath against man when he first made him; for he made him after his own image, and gave him power to continue in that holiness and righteousness, in which he created him; but he fell, and was cast out of paradise, and an angel was sent with a flaming sword that turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. Thus man fell under the wrath of God by his sin; but how shall I have the wrath of God allayed? By breaking off from sin, and returning to God again.
Objection: This looks like a covenant of works, say some. Do you say I must break off from sin and so escape the wrath of God?
Yes, I do; but no mortal man can break off from sin but by joining with the Mediator; he is the author of eternal salvation that he works in us to desire his will and to do his will and enables us to work out our own salvation. It was sin that drove man out of paradise and brought upon him the wrath of God. Sin is the devil's work. Now that Christ might be a Savior to us, he will destroy the devil's work; for this purpose, said the apostle, the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil. Now the devil was not the destruction of man simply in himself, but by tempting him to sin, which is the devil's work; and Christ was manifested, to destroy the devil's work; that propensity to sin that is in the nature of man, which makes him rebel against the mind and will of God. Christ the eternal Son of God became man; he took the nature of man, that he might bring man again to his primitive state, in which he was created after the image of God.
Now how does the devil perform his works? Does he do his works coercively? No, he uses no irresistible force. But does Christ the Mediator work coercively, with an irresistible power and force, to bring a man again to God? No, no more than the devil did to beguile man from God. Man might have stood and continued in his state of innocence if he would; he might join with evil, and yield to the temptation of the devil, if he had a mind; he knew if he gave over his mind to evil, he would be ruined; and it proved so. Man was resolved to try out what it was to yield to the devil, and obey him. He told those who if they ate of the forbidden fruit they would be as Gods, but they became more like the devil. They got this by being obedient to the devil, not that the devil laid an irresistible force upon them, "God knows that on the day that you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil;" but there was only a presentation of it to them, and with that he prevailed, and so came to the destruction of mankind. Christ the Mediator, in order that he may present us to God, comes himself and presents his commands to us; and his command is, that we must break off from that servitude and subjection that the devil has brought man into, and there must be a subjection unto Christ. We must believe in Christ, hearken to the word of God, and break off from sin; but where is the power to do so? "If God would have me holy, let him make me holy; if he would have me pure, let him make me so, and give me ability to do what of myself I cannot do; when it pleases God to give me grace and captivate my will, I shall become a good Christian." Now here is a great mistake that people should think they must wait for an irresistible power to bring them back to God; there is a presentation of love and mercy, and earnest invitations, and the long-suffering and patience and goodness of God's long waiting upon sinners. God, who commanded 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, 2 Cor 4:6. "What shall I do with the light that shines into my heart? I will shut my eyes against it; I love darkness rather than light, and evil more than good; this light will lead me to holiness and righteousness, I will quarrel with it, it comes to bereave me of my comforts in this world, of my merry companions, and of all my bravery, I will not hearken to it." Alas! for these. This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. Said our Savior: if I had not come and spoken to them, they had no sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin.
Here is the gospel preached by Christ himself; here is the presentation of an opportunity for every man and woman to return again, but I must be in the way of returning, that is, by joining with what presents to me holiness, righteousness, chastity, and humility that presents and offers to the soul all the virtues and graces that are in Christ, and shows it the light and grace that comes from Christ. Because this light and grace shows itself to my soul, I have a view of it. Do you have a view of it? Have you seen purity, humility, sobriety, meekness, and self-denial, and a heavenly frame of spirit in yourself or somebody else? How do you like it? "I don’t like it at all; I love to have honor and dignity, power and dominion, and my elbow-room in the world; I do not love this meekness, humility and strictness of life that a man must have a care what he speaks, and set a watch upon his lips, and upon his heart, tongue, and hands; I do not like this kind of life."
If you don’t like a good life, somebody will like it, and live in it; and notwithstanding all your vain boasting, your hating, and despising it. When people come to live this kind of life, they will outlive you; your proud life, your reigning life, and your having elbow-room in the world, will at last come to be limited; the hand of God is against it, and he will bring down the pride of man. When you come to lie upon your dying pillow, expecting any moment to expire and breathe your last, then you will say, "O that I had been more serious, and lived more like a Christian; lived a godly life, and given up my heart to God, and been more watchful over my thoughts, words, and actions! There is such a friend of mine, that has lived better than I; if I had lived such a life as he has lived, I would have had more comfort;" and those who are despisers of the godly, though they do not like such a life now, they will like it then.
Friends, you who are lovers of your souls, and meet together that you may become better, and have expectation and hope that you shall receive comfort and benefit by your meeting together; I tell you, as a servant of God, and a lover of yours, it is but a little while, and you will wish that you had chosen the most holy, harmless, innocent life, that ever you saw yourselves, or heard of from any body else; and you will wish that you had been more watchful over your thoughts, words and actions. There is a day, a day approaching, when we must give an account for every thing that we have done, whether good or evil; you must give an account for your cursed debauchery, for your swearing, lying, and inordinate passions; you must give an account far every vain thought, and every idle word.
If this will certainly come to pass, how shall I prevent these idle words and evil actions? How shall a young man cleanse his way, said the Psalmist? By taking heed thereto, according to your word. I am not as those who say lo here and lo there. I do not say, you must come and learn truth of me; rather I say: if you find it, you must find it in yourselves. "What if I live in the truth?" That will not serve you, and if I am a holy man, that will not sanctify you. You must hearken to truth's speaking in yourself; you may hear it speaking in your own heart; you may hear it call you to righteousness and holiness; and if you hear it, you may do it too, if you please; for there is a power that goes along with it.
"I know enough," you will say, "but I cannot do what I know; I do not have the power." What ails you that you do not have power? "If I had power, then would I abstain from all sin, and break off from my evil ways, but the devil throws this object and the other object in my way, and by his temptations he ensnare me; I do not have the power to resist. Would you have me do more than I can do? And as long as I do not have the power, I am to be excused."
Now here is a device of the devil to keep people in his net still. If men would be true to themselves, they would not be long without power. If you are convinced of the evil of your ways, and that it is your duty to break off from sin, there is a power offered to you, that, if you join with, you may overcome all temptations, and forsake your sin. I would have you all prove, and search, and see whether I speak truth or not. I am persuaded there is not a man or woman here but they have sometime abstained from an evil work, which they were tempted to. How were you restrained; because you knew it was an evil work, you dared not do it; the devil did not have a coercive power to force you to do it; "I knew it was an evil thing, and I joined with that in my mind which dissuaded me from it; and I prayed to God to give me power to abstain from it." The devil still tempted you, so who helped you against the temptation? God retrained you by his grace. Will not he who is present in you, help you? He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; depend upon him still, and he will be always ready to help you, support you, and strengthen you; and you shall be kept from sin in an hour of temptation. Consider that all power in Heaven and Earth is given to Christ; and if he is able to keep you, you shall not fall into it? Those who come unto me, said Christ, no one shall pluck them out of my Father’s hand. My Father is greater than all. If you come unto Christ, he will in no way cast you out, and if you depend upon him, he will preserve you, and none shall he able to pluck you out of his hand. If you join with the truth, and with what is holy, you shall have strength and ability to withstand temptation and overcome it; and (I may speak with reverence) Christ has bound himself to those who trust in him; those who keep the word of my patience, I will keep them in the hour of temptation. If I keep waiting upon his power, that is ready to help me, and have a mind to be purified and sanctified, and to have righteousness brought into my soul, and have mine eyes unto God, and my expectations from him, he will work in me to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Now here people have a fixed foundation for their faith; but there is no working at this rate without bearing a daily cross. There are a great many can receive the truth in words, and receive doctrines, and tenets, and that with delight; but there is no practicing holiness and righteousness without a daily cross and self-denial. There are a great many who have come to truth, as far as it stands in words; but when it comes to something that they must do, to speak the truth, and live in the truth, they meet with so much of the temptation of the devil, so much lust and corruption, and ungodliness in themselves; they meet with such evil things that their souls join with and yield to, that they cannot go on in the ways of holiness, unless they look up to Jesus, and have an eye to their Savior and take up his cross and follow him. Whatever reproaches, sufferings, and persecutions they endure, they must have a godly resolution to follow the Lord Christ; and say: “I will obey his commands; he shall have the rule and government of my life and be the guide of my way; Whatsoever stands in my way, I will take up my cross and deny myself;” without this there is no good Christianity in the world.
There are a great many that seem to be religious and are talkers of the truth. We all know there are many talkers of the truth in notion, and with talk about it with great zeal; but they do not know how to live and walk in the truth. They do not live uprightly and honestly in the truth. They do not keep their words; they do not live justly and honestly with all men, nor do unto others as they would have others do to them. They can describe how to speak and act; then why do they not do it? They have got a notion that they are above the cross of Christ, and self-denial is far below them. People will not live in the truth.
This is lacking in the whole world. If we look around we shall find a great many are illuminated. There is abundance of knowledge and understanding among talkers; there is abundance of learning, and great numbers of learned men. What is the reason that oaths, and curses, and all manner of wickedness run down the streets like a river? There is pride, wrath, envy, revenge, and violence to be found among us, which seem likely draw down vengeance upon us. They have heard preached in pulpits much of holiness, humility, patience and meekness; and have heard that a meek and quiet spirit is an ornament of great price. Men have heard much preaching against pride, profaneness, drunkenness, and uncleanness, but they have heard it like a tale that is told, not much concerned about it, and have given little credit or regard to what they have heard of these things. Why are people so wicked? The reason at last results in this: men are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; they are not the servants of Christ, but serve many lusts and pleasures, and are led captive by the devil, at his will; and so they go on in iniquity. No laws can restrain and curb them, when the law of Christ is not written in their hearts; but when men come to see a necessity of self-denial and taking up the cross, this will produce a reformation.
This is what I labor for, and all good men and women will do it. It is time to try for reformation. Vain fashions, and garbs, and pride have been cried up; why should not we cry for reformation before the wrath of a provoked God is kindled against us, and his vengeance poured down upon the nation? We must reform our lives. How shall men reform, you will say? By getting the law of God within their hearts, that is pure, and holy, and heavenly, that will be as a light to men’s feet, and a lantern to their paths. Now until people come to this, they will go on in sin and iniquity until they are swept away with some overflowing and dreadful judgment.
So that, my friends, in the fear of God, and out of love to you, I seek that you may be brought to God, through Christ, that you may live in the love and fear of the Lord; and, when you come to die, you may have rest and peace for your souls. There is no rest for those who are evil-doers, there is no peace, said my God, to the wicked. The ungodly cry, peace, peace, and talk of peace, but there is no peace for them; but they shall have for their portion tribulation, and wrath, and anguish. This shall certainly come upon everyone that does evil. It is no matter what religion you are of, if you do not obey the truth, but live in unrighteousness.
Now, friends, my exhortation to you all is that you will return to the truth in your own hearts, and do it while you have time. I am not persuading people to love my opinion, but to love God's truth in their own hearts; to love it and obey it; and you cannot do this unless you resolve to take up a daily cross, and be followers of Christ, who has gone before them to prepare a place for those who are his true disciples. Then he will present them to God, as holy, harmless, and undefiled, for these are heirs of that everlasting kingdom, which God has prepared for those who love him.
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