George Whitehead's Letters
A gospel salutation in true Christian love, recommended to Friends,
While you have the light,
Text in Light Blue or bold Light Blue can be "clicked" for backup in scripture.
Beloved Friends, now in my ancient years, after a long travel and many years labor in the work of the ministry of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, a renewed salutation of true and tender love he has laid upon me, and moved upon my spirit to recommend to you, by way of on epistle, for I have been for some time disabled in the outward man from traveling abroad as formerly I did. Yet I am inwardly often strengthened and renewed in spirit, through the love and tender mercies and riches of the grace of the Lord our God, which I have in his dear son Christ Jesus, to whom be praise, honor and glory, forevermore.
My dear and beloved friends, I am still as deeply concerned in spirit for the whole family, heritage and church of God, as ever; and for all whose hearts are truly inclined by his divine grace and good spirit to seek him, and to be acquainted with him, that they may have eternal life, by the knowledge of the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, for this is life eternal, the intent, substance and glory of all true Christian religion; and that this knowledge may increase, and the glory, of him spread in the earth, is still my soul’s desire and breathing to the Lord our God.
And dearly beloved, that in this eternal life, divine and spiritual knowledge of the only true God and his Son Jesus Christ, you all may grow, and your souls prosper in this to God's eternal glory! Your everlasting peace is my soul’s sincere desire and supplication to him, who is the Father and fountain of all our mercies and blessings afforded unto us in and through his only begotten Son Jesus Christ.
Oh! consider, and diligently mind and remember the great wisdom and love of our most gracious God, as the cause of his giving his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him might not perish, but have everlasting life; who said unto his disciples "Let not your hearts be troubled; you that believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also."
Surely we believing in God, who gave his dear Son for our redemption and salvation, we ought also to believe in his Son as our great Mediator and Advocate with the Father; considering also, that Christ Jesus, his being given us as our Mediator between God and men, and his giving himself a ransom for all men, for a testimony in due time, and his dying for all men, his tasting death for every man, did all proceed from the great love of God, and not to pay a strict or rigid satisfaction for vindictive justice, or revenge on God's part; for that would leave no place for forgiveness of sins past, before repentance and faith in Christ and his gospel; seeing the good will and blessed design of God, setting forth Jesus Christ to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God, whose blood cries for mercy. Surely that righteousness and forbearance of God declared by the propitiatory sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the remission or forgiveness of sins that are past, upon true repentance, cannot justly be deemed revenge or vindictive justice, as some have asserted against us; but a free act of the love and wisdom of God to give his Son, and in him to reconcile the world to himself, and not to impute their sins that are past to them, when thoroughly reconciled and united in heart and soul with him, by his grace and good spirit.
Oh! “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world:" In what respect does Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God, take away the sin of the world? I answer, in two respects:
First, as a universal and most excellent offering and acceptable sacrifice for sin, in order to obtain redemption and forgiveness by his precious blood, and even of a most sweet smelling savor to God, far excelling the legal and typical oblations of animals, as the offerings and blood of bulls, goats, heifers, sheep, rams, lambs, etc., all which Jesus Christ by his own one offering put an end unto.
Second; Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God, takes away the sin of the world, by purging the conscience and purifying the hearts of all those who truly receive him and believe in him, even in his holy name and divine power. Oh! Therefore, behold the Lamb of God, which takes away and puts an end to sin, finishes transgression, and brings in everlasting righteousness.
Let us all look unto the promised Messiah, even unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, that we all may believe in heart unto righteousness, and the salvation of our souls, so as to be partakers of Christ and his righteousness, that none may draw back to perdition, nor into the world's pollutions, who have escaped the same through the knowledge of God and his dear Son Jesus Christ, who is able and truly willing to save to the uttermost all them who come to God by him.
He who offered up himself a Lamb without spot to God for all mankind, and thereby became a propitiation for the sins of the whole world, never intended to leave men in sin and transgression all their days, but to afford all men grace to lead them to true repentance, that they might receive that remission [a shrinking] , forgiveness, atonement and reconciliation obtained for them.
That God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself not imputing their sins to them, but allowing and granting them remission upon true repentance, was, and is a testimony, and plain indication of the great love, grace and favor of God to the world, in and through his dear Son. How wonderfully has God, in his great wisdom, love, kindness, meekness, long suffering and compassion, condescended to our low capacities and conditions of the human race, for our redemption and salvation, by his dear Son Jesus Christ, truly considered, both as he came and suffered in the flesh, and as he is revealed in the spirit. Oh let the weighty consideration of all these things deeply affect all our hearts and souls sincerely to love, serve, fear, worship and praise the Lord our most gracious God through Jesus Christ forever!
It is to be seriously observed and remembered, that when Jesus Christ was about to take leave of his disciples, he recommended them unto the Spirit of truth, the Comforter, which should testify of him and abide with them forever; and that he would manifest [show] himself to him that loved Him, and that in a little while, they, (his disciples), would see him, that is Christ Jesus; so though he went away in the body, he would come again to them in spirit.
Now, dear friends, it being the Holy Spirit which testifies of our Lord Jesus Christ, and shows unto us what he takes of Christ, he, ( the Holy Spirit), shall take of mine, said Christ, and show it to you.
The Holy Ghost takes, and shows to us, the most excellent properties of our great and glorious Mediator, his great universal love, meekness, humility and compassion, that we may by degrees partake of them, as we truly obey and follow him in the manifestation of the same Holy Spirit, by which the mystery of Christ is revealed, in and to the truly spiritually minded believers in his light, by which they become the children of the light.
As our Lord Jesus Christ has, by his sufferings, one offering, sacrifice and death, put an end to all the legal offerings, types, shadows, and figures, outward ordinances, rites and ceremonies, and many washings, or baptisms, under the Law of Moses and Levitical Priesthood, he continues a Priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek, King of Righteousness and King of peace, our High Priest over the house and family of God; he having consecrated, prepared and opened the new and living way of the new covenant, through the veil of his flesh, for our access into the most holy sanctuary.
Therefore let us consider what great love God in his divine wisdom has manifested through his dear Son, for us and to us; yes, toward the children of men, that we might have and know access into his everlasting covenant of grace, mercy and peace, in and through his dear Son Jesus Christ. Let us prize his great love and goodness forever, in bringing us into a more glorious dispensation than all the former dispensations of the law and shadows, under which the light was so far veiled, that the people of Israel, when the veil was over their heart, could not look to the end of those shadows and veils, which were abolished by Christ; but those veils have now vanished and fled away, by the Sun of Righteousness more gloriously manifest and brightly shining, as the new covenant and spiritual dispensation of Christ, than in all the former dispensations. So that Moses' face is unveiled in this day, although God was pleased to afford his word, his light and spirit to visit the children of men, in all generations since the beginning; and even in the time of the law and the prophets, the voice, the Word and Spirit of God, as testified to by Moses, the holy prophets and servants of God, and the people warned and exhorted to obey the same, for salvation and peace; but in the day of Christ and of the gospel, more clearly manifest and brightly shining than under the legal types and shadows, which Jesus Christ, the substance, put an end to and abolished. Abraham saw Christ's day and rejoiced; and the spirit of Christ in the holy prophets testified beforehand, both of his sufferings and of the glory of his day, that should follow.
Now, dear friends, the gospel day, the day of Christ and of his power having dawned, as in the primitive spiritual Christian days; after long night of apostasy and ignorance, the day-spring, the (sun-rising) from on high having visited us by the spiritual coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ, and affording us of his glorious light and Holy Spirit, let us all sincerely obey and walk in the same, that we all may have and enjoy life and peace in him, who has opened a living way unto us into the new and everlasting covenant grace and peace; and let us all continue in it.
The dispensation of Christ is spiritual and glorious, to which we are called; it is a ministry of the spirit of Christ, of his light and spirit, and it must go over all the world and continue unto the end.
When the Lord had opened the eyes of our minds and understandings, so that our minds were turned from darkness to the light of our Lord Jesus Christ, and from the power of Satan to God, then we knew true repentance, and that our true beginning, in order to receive the true and spiritual knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and true Christianity, was in the spirit and not in the letter, nor in fleshly observations, elements or rudiments of the world.
And it was by the same Holy Spirit, that the excellence of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of his sufferings, came to be revealed and experienced by degrees in us, as we followed the same spirit of holiness.
Oh what excellence is in the true knowledge our blessed Lord Jesus Christ! And unto what poverty of spirit and loss of all, that is self, must men be reduced, to obtain this knowledge and to win Christ, and be found in him, according to the confession of the holy Apostle! Phil 3:8-9.
And what fellowship of Christ's sufferings must persons be led into, if they are made conformable unto his death, and come to have or enjoy the righteousness which is of God by faith, even by the faith of Christ! What then were Christ's sufferings? "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement of our peace was upon him; he was oppressed and afflicted," ...
Surely those who come truly into the fellowship of Christ's sufferings, must come spiritually, by being sensibly burdened, grieved and sorrowful, wounded and bruised, chastised and afflicted, for their own transgressions and iniquities, under the reproofs and chastisements of the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, unto true repentance, remission and forgiveness of their iniquities through Christ that was wounded, bruised, yes, and crucified for them, though he never sinned; and in order to be made conformable unto his death, we all must be crucified with him. Men must come under the death of the cross, and by the power of Christ be baptized into his death, having crucified the flesh with the corrupt affections and lusts of it, which those who are Christ's true followers have done, being risen with him by the faith of the operation of God.
Oh! Such a suffering, dying, rising and living with Christ, to God, must necessarily be known and inwardly experienced in true believers, by the work of his grace and Holy Spirit, which therefore we all ought diligently to follow and walk in, that as we all have begun well, at the true beginning in the spirit, we may hold on in faithfulness to blessed end and crown of righteousness.
Dear friends, how precious is it to be partakers of the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, and our Lord, through the fellowship, fruits and benefit of his sufferings, mediation and intercession! Let us forever truly prize the great love of God, so eminently manifest in his dear Son Jesus Christ, by his Holy Spirit!
As the true and saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is only after the spirit and not after the flesh, and the glorious mystery of Christ in men revealed by the spirit, so we ought all to be spiritually minded, minding the divine light and holy Spirit of grace in our hearts, and to know one another after the spirit, in spiritual sense and communion, that the fellowship of this mystery of Christ may be truly known and with life be increased among us, to the glory of God and honor of his beloved Son, and our universal comfort and true joy in Him, who is the true God and eternal life.
I well remember, how in early days, after we were truly convinced, and received the blessed truth in the love and simplicity of it, and were led into plainness of speech and habit, etc., we did in measure also outwardly partake of the fellowship of Christ's sufferings, by being reproached, opposed, contradicted and calumniated for his name and truth's sake, by the wicked and loose professors [believers] and profane [ungodly and evil]; we resigned to obedience and bearing the cross for his sake, who endured a more severe cross for our sakes before us.
It was in the love of the living truth and simplicity which is in Christ Jesus, through obedience to him in his light and grace, that we became betrothed to him. This progress is not to be forgotten by any who would be betrothed in righteousness, true and constant love, to Christ Jesus, as our spiritual head and husband, which he truly is to his church, or mystical body.
Oh! My dear and beloved friends, be retired inwardly, in your minds and spirits, to the light, the grace, the good Word and Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ in you, that you may experience the holy Seed, the Word of eternal life and grace, to grow and prevail more and more, unto an immortal birth and holy generation, as you become born of the same.
And, dear friends, I cannot but remember the love of our espousals, and the kindness of our youth at the beginning, and in early days, and remind you of them, when we as chaste virgins, were espoused unto Jesus Christ, and when but a few in number; and how sincerely we loved one another, that we were one another's joy in the Lord; who said unto Jerusalem of old, "I remember the kindness of thy youth, the love of your espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown;” which was a low suffering state of deep trials. Oh! That the first love of our espousals should never be impaired, nor left, or forgotten, but forever retained, or otherwise we cannot live to God nor prosper in a Christian life in Christ Jesus, or keep chaste to him as his true spouse and church of the first born written in heaven.
Now, dear friends, to come into and live in a true Christian love and life, must be through a real self-denial, and taking up the daily cross, and following Christ Jesus and his example and steps.
This self-denial must be an abasement and denial of all proud conceited self, that is exalted above others, in secret pride abounding in one's own sense, slighting and condemning others; and what other evils and corruptions perverse self is addicted to, must all be denied und utterly rejected by all who come to embrace a humble Christian life and condition.
This real denial of self will not allow any to exercise lordship over God's heritage, nor any rigid overruling of it, though they might pretend eldership. Rather the real denial of self leads one to be humble examples to the flock of Christ, and as fellow helpers in the Lord of the younger, the weak, the feeble and tender, so as not to quench any good intentions or desires in any such; and in all humbleness of mind, meekness and long suffering, bearing with or supporting one another in love, in which endeavoring for, and to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
And as we are called by one spirit into one true light, life and love, let us all endeavor diligently in humility to walk in it, that we may truly appear to be one peculiar people of God and Christ, one church of the firstborn, one spiritual society, and of one city set upon a hill, fellow-citizens with the saints, set upon the holy hill of Zion, shining in the brightness of it, in all holy conversation, to the glory of our God.
For such is the blessed and glorious state of the true church, the spiritual Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, which the saints, the primitive church of Christ and true Christians of old had come into, and also to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant; whose eyes the Lord had opened, that they were turned from darkness unto his light. and thereby became light in the Lord; and they were no more foreigners, nor strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, who continued faithful, and true believers in the light.
Oh! How great are the privileges and spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, which his faithful subjects and fellow citizens with the saints partake of, even in this life! And how much more in that to come, in his kingdom of glory and triumph!
Zion and Jerusalem, when Israel's solemnities of worship were kept in the temple there, as God had appointed under the law, were in great splendor and applause; typifying the true spiritual church, or city of the saints solemnities under the dispensation of Christ and his glorious gospels in whom the most excellent and glorious promises, to spiritual Zion and heavenly Jerusalem, which are yes and amen, are fulfilled in his gospel church: “The Lord loves the gates of Zion, more than all the dwellings of Jacob: glorious things are spoken of you, you city of God." Again, “Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: your eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation and a tabernacle that shall not be taken down,” ... This was not fulfilled upon earthly Jerusalem, for that was taken down and laid waste with the temple and its sumptuous buildings, because of the great provocations, iniquities and cruel persecutions of the Jews, against the servants of the Lord, and even against the Son of God himself.
Now, beloved friends and brethren, who are called out of darkness into the true light, and to be fellow-citizens with the saints in light, of whom it may be said, “you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem," ..., walk in the light of the holy city of God, where the Lord God and the Lamb is the light, and wherein the nations of those who are saved must walk; that salvation may encompass you, and be as walls and bulwarks to you, that the enemy may not invade or scatter you; that the righteousness of Zion and Jerusalem may go forth as brightness, and the salvation of it as a lamp that burns.
Therefore, arise, Oh Zion! and shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you; put on your strength, Oh Zion! Put on your beautiful garments, Oh Jerusalem! the holy city, ...
Please friends, consider what the beautiful garments are, which the inhabitants of the city of God must put on, and be clothed with in our Zion and Jerusalem, the true spiritual church? Must they not be such as the holy apostle exhorts to put on and describes? Namely, "Now therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, (if any man has a complaint or quarrel against another), even as Christ forgave, so you do the same." But first the filthy garments must be put off the old man with his corrupt lusts and evil deeds, with all the filthy rags of self-righteousness, these must be mortified and put off, and the creature also stripped of all its own filthy rags of self-righteousness, before it can be invested with the beautiful garments of Zion, or heavenly Jerusalem, the true spouse of Christ Jesus, or married to the Lamb. Therefore it greatly concerns all to follow him in the work of regeneration, the work of sanctification by his Holy Spirit and power, and in that believe, and sincerely obey him, for the perfecting of holiness in the fear of God, that Christ may be formed in you; and in his life manifest in you, all may shine forth as the called, chosen and faithful people of God, to your everlasting peace in his dear Son, and to the honor, the glory and renown of his great and excellent name forever.
I would further remind you of this weighty exhortation of the holy apostle to the church of Christ of Colossians: "Above all these things put on charity, (i.e., true love) which is the bond of perfection: and let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you are called in one body, and be thankful."
The Lord Jesus Christ be with you, and endue you with his holy Spirit of grace, wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of the mystery of Christ, that he may dwell in your hearts by faith, and by his power you may be rooted and grounded in his love, grace and peace more and more, to the glory of his name, and your everlasting consolation and joy in his heavenly kingdom. Amen.
And now, dear friends, let us consider the only begotten Son of God, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, and what confession and honor is given unto him in holy Scripture, both respecting his eternal Deity and perfect manhood, and his coming in that manifestly in due time, which I mention in order to clear us, the people termed Quakers, from the unjust imputations of our adversaries, one while denying the divinity, another with denying the humanity of Christ, or both, as some have done; and to prevent all occasions of doubts or disputes about the some matter, I refer you and all concerned to the following Scriptures:
Isa. 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (written 750 years before Christ's earthly birth)
A prophecy of Jesus Christ, respecting his birth of the virgin, as a man child, and his being Immanuel, God with us, or in us.
Isa 9:6. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (written 700 years before Christ's earthly birth)
An excellent prophecy and testimony of Jesus Christ, respecting his birth as a man child, and his divine wisdom and Deity, as Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, etc.
Mic 5:2. and Mat 1:23, 2:1 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah wrote this prophecy 750 years before Christ's earthly birth)
Showing that Christ existed, as to his Divinity, before he was born in Bethlehem in Judah.
John 1:1-14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Rom 1:3-4. Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: And Rom 9:5. Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever.
Therefore, that Jesus Christ his being truly man and the Son of God, and God over all, thus declared; first, respecting his manhood, is said of him, Luke 2. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. And when twelve years old, and was found in the temple among the doctors, hearing them and asking them questions, all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers, Luke 2:40, 42. 46, 47. and Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Oh wonderful child! And most excellent heavenly man! He has left us a blessed example, in order to follow him, and to grow in his grace and wisdom, by the help of his Holy Spirit and power.
Consider also, that by the wondrous works and miracles, that Christ wrought on earth by the power of God, he had great adoration and honor in many hearts; and so do his great and spiritual cures, which by his divine light and power, he has wrought and worked on many souls in this day: glory and honor to his name forever: See: Isa 42:6-7, John 11:25-26,42-44, Eph 2:1, and Psa 147:7 and Psa 103.
There is no cause to question Christ the Son of God, whom he has highly exalted, having a name given him above every name, unto which every knee shall bow,... Phil 2:9. Surely, the mighty God or God over all..., is a name, yes, a power divine, above every other name.
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hidden in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. Eph 3:9. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, Col 1:16. ... As God created all things in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible, ... by Jesus Christ; this speaks of his being the eternal Wisdom, Power and Word of God, Rev 19:13, John 1:3,
See likewise Heb 1:1-2: God who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.
Then the Son of God was before the worlds were made; to which agrees, Heb 11:3: Through faith we understand, that the worlds were framed by the Word of God.
See also, John 5:21-23. As the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom he will; for the Father judges no man; but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father: he that honors not the Son, honors not the Father which has sent him.
How can any so honor the Son, who count him only a mere man? John 17:5. And now, 0 Father! Glorify thou me, with your own self, with the glory which I had with thee, before the world was. These were Christ's own words and testimony, in his prayer to the Father. See 1 John 5:20. How [the true God and Eternal Life] is ascribed to the Son as well as to the Father, — who are one: John 10:30. It is also observable, The children of Israel, who were all baptized unto Moses, in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink of the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, (or went with them) and that Rock was Christ; 1 Cor10:2-4.
And this was long before Christ came in the flesh; Christ was and is the Rock of Ages, and Foundation of many generations, both before and after his coming in the flesh.
Now dear and well beloved friends! For as much as, ever since a people, we have believed Christ as the true Light and his coming in the flesh; these Scripture testimonies of him, as to his divinity and manhood, are recited rather in defense of our Christian faith and holy profession, as against our adversaries unjustly rendering us no Christians, than to suppose any deficiency on your parts relating thereunto. The Lord be with you all, and possess your hearts with his dear love and divine wisdom in Christ Jesus.
Site Editor's Comment: In the above letter Whitehead has addressed exactly the several Quaker departures from the truth to come; in two directions, both of which he addresses: (perhaps this is why that by 1850, Quaker authors called his writings controversial)
An Epistle of True Christian Love
to All Friends, called or reputed Quakers,
— by their Ancient Friend in Christ, G. Whitehead
Dear and well-beloved Friends, Brethren, and Sisters, old and young, who I truly love in the Lord; even with that ancient love which has lived in my heart from the beginning. I bless the worthy name and power of the Lord our most gracious God, who has until this time helped me and many others, his faithful servants and ministers, in his blessed work and service. And my soul’s breathing and supplication to Him, the Father and Fountain of mercies, is, that his divine grace, love and peace, with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, may be forever continued to you, and multiplied among you.
And my dear friends and brethren, not knowing how soon my days here may come to an end,* I have now been for a long time deeply concerned in the Lord’s work and service, in his gospel ministry and harvest; it has been more than 52 years since I was first called forth to bear public testimony for his blessed truth, and dispensation of his Holy Spirit and new covenant; the Lord having prolonged my days much beyond my former expectations, because not only of the deep sufferings an severe persecutions, which I early underwent, but also the many afflictions and exercises since then. I am therefore now the more concerned to communicate to you, my dear friends, what is laid on me; even in the love of my Heavenly Father, and for the help and advantage of future ages, of such as shall after this sincerely seek the Lord, and the exaltation of truth and righteousness in the earth.
Upon the 22nd of the 7th month, 1705, the power of the Lord came on me with great weight, to my great comfort and refreshment, in a special manner opening many weighty matter freshly, of the state and condition of his peculiar people, commonly called Quakers; as, how we came to quake and tremble at the word of God in the beginning, and the real causes of it, both under the powerful ministration of the law and judgments of God by his light, discovering the nature and exceeding sinfulness of sin. And also under the dispensation of the gospel, in order to work out our salvation, with fear and trembling; (the light of the word ministering both law and gospel): when we knew our God so to prepare our hearts, by working in us both to will and to do; being also sensible we could not work without some inward sense and feeling of the word and power of God, and his Christ, working in us, true willingness, also faith, and ability. As there is a trembling of heart, and bowing of soul under the sense of judgment and mercy, there must be a giving up to serve the lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling; the same being required of the kings and judges of the earth, under the dispensation of the Son of God. (Psa 2:10-11).
Now let it enter the hearts and considerations of all who are concerned, of its outward communion among us, both young and old, male and female, what it is to be a true quaker and tremble; to tremble at the word of God; to tremble at his judgments; to tremble at his presence; seeing that "to this man will I look, said the Lord, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word;” Isa 66:2. The Lord has a tender regard to them, and care over them, who are thus exercised in the inward sense of the word of life.
Yes, “Thus said the High and Lofty One, that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, and to revive the hearts of the contrite ones;” Isa 57:15. Oh! This contrite and humble spirit is too much lacking, whose word of life and power is not inwardly received or regarded; where persons are lifted up, and exalted in their own wills and spirits, above the inward sense and feeling of this word, which would tender their hearts, and bow their spirits into a true contrition and godly sorrow, where they can frequently resort to the solemn assemblies of the Lord’s people; come and go as whole, and up in their spirits and fleshly minds and conceits, without any true remorse, brokenness, trembling or contritions of heart or spirit, before the Lord, or at his presence. Surely a bitter cup of trembling will be given to such at last [in final judgment after death] if they fail to repent.
How many were there among us in the early days, who came under those dispensations of the law and the gospel, under the sense of the judgment and mercy, and trembled at the word; and freely submitted to judgment, that they might find mercy with God in Christ, who, in the midst of judgment remembered mercy, that he might be feared.
But how many now are under an outward profession of Christ, and pretensions of religion, who never came under those dispensations, so as to be truly humbled, mortified, and crucified unto the world, you are termed or reputed to be Quakers; when in reality they are not such as tremble at the word or presence of God, or because of his judgments; and yet there is as much loftiness of man in them to be laid low, as much earth in them to be shaken, as ever was in any of us, at first, when we knew the glory of the Lord, that is, his power, to arise and shake the earth terribly, and to bring down lofty looks, and lay low the pride and loftiness of man. Isa 2:11.
Therefore I am sensible that quaking and trembling at the word and presence of the Lord God, as in the beginning, are as necessary to be reminded in the ministry and preaching, in these days of ease and liberty, as ever, to humble them who have not repented of their iniquities; being guilty of both manifest evils, and secret sins.
All the negligent and slothful, all the lukewarm and indifferent persons in religion have need to repent; all contentious, quarrelsome, and disobedient persons have need to repent and reform in their behaviors and conversations. All unjust, covetous, earthly-minded oppressors, and injurious persons, and all carnal libertines, and drunkards, have great need to repent, and be deeply humbled under the mighty hand of the Lord God. All proud, self-willed, self-exalted, and unclean persons, with all whisperers, back-biters, and sowers of discord have great cause to seek repentance, and to fear, dread, and tremble at the judgments and presence of the Lord God; and in order for this to occur, such have need to be alarmed and awakened out of all their carnal security, fleshly ease, and false rests, to repentance. If the Lord pleases to give them a place and hearts to repent before they did, a terrible shaking, a deep sorrow, mourning and lamentation, must fall on such, before they come into a true rejoicing in the Lord with trembling; for there must be a terrible shaking, before a joyful trembling.
Such as are careless and at ease in Zion, under truth’s profession, and such as have declined from their first love and simplicity, which is in Christ, and unstable-minded ones, are apt to affect high strains, sudden and high flights, sounds and tones, more than sound matter, and then get into elevations and affectations, more than into humility, or weighty sense of life, and to imitate a sort of singing, which is neither the spirit nor with understanding, as was in the primitive churches of Christ; by which too many, who are inexperienced in the work of God and Christ’s ministry, are likely to be puffed up for one, against another, as those carnal ones among the Corinthians were, and to be exalted in self-conceit and imaginations, to value themselves above others, and far better than they are; and as such will judge of ministry and ministers by a partial affection, and not by sound judgment or divines sense; so they are likely and ready to mistake and affectation and forced births; for the divine power, and son of the free woman, which is very pernicious, as tending to a kind of idolatrous bowing to that as the power, which is not the power of God, but a kind of likeness of things in heaven. Whereas the real work of the gospel ministry is foundation-work; it is edifying work in a sound judgment, in a sound mind, in a clear understanding; and tends to bring people to be sound in the true and living faith, in the name and power of Christ Jesus; even which works by love; so that this foundation work of Christ’s ministry tends to settle people’s minds in humility, in self-denial, in the holy fear of the Lord, in the true light, upon the sure foundation that is laid in Zion, Christ the spiritual rock, upon which the true church is and shall be built, and must stand forever.
This ministry of Christ, and his everlasting gospel, whose work is both convincing, converting, and edifying, we received in the beginning by degrees, by little and little; it grew in us as we grew, in the seed of life eternal, as the Lord was pleased to open the same gradually unto us, and in us. We dared not strive to run into others’ gifts; nor to lift up ourselves above our elders in Christ; or to make ourselves equal in the ministry with them, but to keep within our own measures and gifts, nor to lift up ourselves above our elders in Christ; or to make ourselves equal in the ministry with them, but to keep within our own measures and gifts. And our exercise in this towards others, was in a holy care and in much fear, and also trembling inwardly; yes, and outwardly many time, that we might nor exceed, stretch or strain beyond our own measures, or attainments; or to strive to show ourselves equal to those before us in Christ, and more largely gifted in the ministry than ourselves; but everyone was careful to keep within the bounds of their own proper gifts and attainments; and in this, with us attending to this care, the Lord helped us; blessed us with his power and presence; and gave us increase and success in his blessed work; to our inward comfort and great encouragement; blessed be his glorious name and power forever.
We knew it to be our concern diligently to wait, and singly attend on the Lord our God; in humility and fear, that we might have a true sense of the state and condition of meetings, wherever the Lord ordered us to; and that he would open to us a ministry and testimony suitable to the hearers, so that we might perceive and feel where people were prepared and quick of hearing, and where dull of hearing was; a door of entrance being opened in the first, as well as a door of utterance towards them; but the latter being dull of hearing, things were hard to be uttered to them, especially regarding the mysteries of Christ’s kingdom and gospel.
There must be a shaking of the earth, and the heavens also, before people come to a right and clear understanding in the mysteries of Christ’s kingdom; and to serve the Lord our God with grace, with reverence and godly fear, in which that kingdom that cannot be shaken, must be received. The false faith, the false hope, the false rests, the false peace, the false joy, must all be shaken and removed, as well as the earthly part in men, if ever they are to arrive at stability in Christ Jesus and his kingdom that cannot be shaken or removed.
“Tremble, Oh Earth,” Oh you inhabitants of the earth, “at the presence of the God of Jacob and Israel;” and all you heavens, (which must be removed), false rests, false peace and joy, set up and formed in the imaginations of earthly minds and wills of fallen men and women, be you removed, that Christ may be received and exalted, and his kingdom known and set up. The piercing, discerning word, pierces through dark hearts, minds, and spirits, to bring men to know their inward states and conditions, secret thoughts, desires, and intentions; and this word discovers and smites, not only at evils manifestly gross, such as drunkenness, lewdness, rage, but also at spiritual wickedness in high places; and will create a thorough work of sanctification and salvation in those who in meekness receive and obey the same word.
And, dear friends and brethren, our God, being a God of love and peace, a God of order, and not of strife or confusion; let his love and peace dwell in you hearts, and in that mind your unity, that love may grow and abound among you; and do all things and services you are call to do, in love; even in the tender peaceable life and spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ; according to those apostolic exhortations: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than themselves,” and “Do all things without murmurings and disputes,” Phi 2:3,14. And, “if any man seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither do the churches of God.” 1 Cor 11:16. For we know very well, that truth’s testimony is against all turbulent, forward, and contentious spirits; and such ought not to have influence, rule, or sit as judges or instructors about truth’s affairs, order or discipline in the church; instead true judgment and power of God is to rule and be set over all.
And seeing truth’s testimony in all part and branches in the fear of God, ought to be observed and kept, certainly the payment of just debts in due time, the due performance of contracts, and promises of them, is no small part of that testimony, but concerns the very practice of truth and true religion. The contrary, namely, refusing the payment of just debts, breaking promises or delaying payment, to the injury and oppression of creditors; this is directly contrary to truth’s testimony, and a violation of it, and condemnable in the sight of God and man, as well as covetousness, oppression, extortion, defrauding, and over-reaching others.
How can such people be esteemed true Christians, who are corrupt in their morals? Or, how could they be entrusted with the true and durable riches, who are not just in the mammon of this world? Covetousness, which is idolatry, hastening to be rich, and an eager pursuit of the riches of this world, have been the ruin of many. By that, they have fallen into many hurtful lusts, which drown men in perdition. Therefore stand clear, and keep clear our of all these evils, and all occasions of reproach and scandal, and stand for truth’s holy testimony in all things. Oh! all be careful to live in truth and righteousness, so that you man leave a good record behind you when you die.
And for the honor of our testimony and the good reputations of truth professed by us, it greatly concerns all ministers, elders, and overseers in the churches of Christ among us to be blameless in their conversations, in agreement with our holy profession of words. The rulers and judges, which Moses set over the people of “Israel, to judge even in the small matters, were required to be able men, those who feared God, men of truth, who hated covetousness,” Exo 18. As “he that rules over men must be just,” ruling in the fear of God; so Christ’s ministers, elders, and overseers in his church, must be “blameless, not greedy for filthy lucre, not covetous, …” Moreover, he that is “a bishop, or overseer, must have a good reputation of those that are outside the church, or he will fall into slander and reproach and the devil’s trap.” As the holy apostle Paul more fully sets forth the state and qualifications of each; see 1 Tim 3:2-6; and so does the apostle Peter,1 Peter 5:2-5; see also Heb 12:7,17.
I beseech all friends, young and old, for the Lord’s sake, and the honor of his glorious name and holy truth, and as holy examples, be diligent and faithful in keeping your meetings, which are intended entirely for the worship of the living God, observing the times and season of worship.
As the Lord’s power and wisdom have been, and are, the authority of your meetings, concerned with the church’s affairs; namely, both those of faithful men and those of faithful women; as you all humbly wait to feel the power, and be in subjection to the same blessed power, in the holy fear of Almighty God; that his Holy Spirit and power may sanctify and overshadow all your assemblies, to his praise, and your great consolation in our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh! All wait for his wisdom and counsel, who is the Wonderful Counselor, and keep in his love toward one another; in which is unity, concord, and peace; and his glory will shine over all among you in all your solemn meetings to his praise, and your great comfort, who has gathered and settled our meetings, both those of men and women, for his service, in the exercise of true love and charity, and real practice of that pure religion, which the Lord our God has revealed and called us into, and appeared to exalt I this day, of his great love and grace extended to us his people, in which he is making up his jewels; that his Zion, his church, may become the perfection of beauty, and the praise of the whole earth; “for out of Zion, the perfection of beauty has God shined,” and will shine; glory and dominion be to our God; and to the Lamb on the Throne, forever and ever.
Let God arise, and his enemies be scattered; let the Lord reign, that the earth may rejoice; let Zion’s King reign in righteousness, and prosper. Amen, Amen.
Background of the Dispute: George Keith, a Quaker in Pennsylvania, shortly after the death of George Fox, began a doctrinal dispute, that ripped the American Quakers seriously apart. He stated it was incorrect to believe "that the light of Christ to be sufficient to
salvation," starting out by saying "something else was needed," and then advocated a Quaker creed of faith as necessary. He then advocated a belief in the events of Christ's life from Scriptures to be sufficient for salvation; which is instant salvation by grace. This position was totally contrary to the teachings of George Fox and all the early Quakers, who said the Light within man was the only way to be taught, convicted of sin, and cleansed of sin to purity, union and the Kingdom; this cleansing being the cross of Christ which must be endured to salvation. Thus, the entire foundation of the Quaker faith was attacked in America, from within the Quaker membership; and it was successful in leading many away from the cross, to a supposed freedom to live in sin and depravity. The Quaker organization in America was slow to react and repudiate this undermining doctrine, appearing to be so concerned for a lost sheep, that the lost sheep led a significant portion of the flock permanently out of the Quaker Society, not just in Philadelphia, but all over the northeast. Finally, they ruled against him. But by this time, he was so strong in membership of the deceived, that he decided to appeal the decision to England, which had no authority over the American Societies, other than being a weighty advisory. Interestingly, the England Meeting censored both sides in the dispute, while ruling against the appeal. But their attempt to resolve the issue by slapping the hands of both parties only prolonged the dispute, this time with Keith staying in London to recruit from the English assemblies to add to his flock of lost sheep. This finally forced the next annual meeting to disassociate with him.
The following is a letter of response from the Annual Meeting of England to Keith's appeal. It is provided to show the place of scripture compared to the light, and the inward Christ compared to the outward Christ, a most informative clarification primarily from George Whitehead, the senior signatory of the letter.
Whereas several accounts have been lately published in print, of some late division between the name of Quakers in Pennsylvania, about several fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, (as presented by one party), which particularly being mentioned, and on which our adversaries, to reproach the Christian ministry and whole body of the people commonly called Quakers, and their holy and Christian profession, both in England and elsewhere, though no way concerned in the said division or matters charged; but rather grieved and troubled at it, and at indiscreet and reproachful management thereof in print, to the amusing and troubling the world with it, and giving occasion to the loose, ignorant, and profane, to slight and condemn the Truth, and the interest of the tender religion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are therefore tenderly concerned for the Truth’s sake in behalf of the said people, (as to the body of them, and for all of them who are sincere to God, and faithful to their Christian principle and profession), to use our just endeavors to remove reproach, and all causeless jealousies concerning us, touching those doctrines of Christianity, or any of them pretended or supposed to be in question in the said division; in relation to this, we do, in the fear of God, and in simplicity and plainness of his Truth received, solemnly and sincerely declare what our Christian belief and profession has been, and still is, in respect to Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God; his suffering, death, resurrection, glory, light, power , great day of judgment, etc.
We sincerely profess faith in God by his only begotten Son Jesus Christ, aa being our Light and Life, our only way to the Father, and also our only Mediator and Advocate with the Father.
That God created all things. He made the worlds by his Son Jesus Christ, He being that powerful and Living Word of God by whom all thing were made. That the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit are one, in divine being inseparable; one true, living and eternal God, blessed forever.
Yet that this Word or Son of God, in the fullness of time took on flesh, became the perfect man — according to the flesh, descended and came from the seed of Abraham and David; but was miraculously conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary. And he was also further declared powerfully to be the Son of God, according to the spirit of sanctification, by the resurrection from the dead.
That is the Word or Son of God, was life; and the same life was the light of men; and that He was the true Light which enlightens every man coming into the world. And therefore that men are to "believe in the Light, that they may become children of the Light." Hereby we believe in Christ the Son of God, as He is the light and life within us; and in which we need to have sincere respect and honor, and belief in Christ, as in his own unapproachable and incomprehensible glory and fullness, as He is the Fountain of life and light, and giver unto us; Christ, as in himself and as in us, being not divided. That as man, Christ died for our sins, rose again, and was received up into glory in the heavens; he having, in his dying for all, been that one great universal offering and sacrifice for peace, atonement, and reconciliation between God and man. And He is the propitiation, not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world. We were reconciled by his death, but saved by his life, [which life is the light of men, given to all men so that they might believe — believe what the light reveals in them.]
That Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, is yet our King, High Priest, and Prophet; in his church a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man. He is Intercessor and Advocate with the Father in heaven, and there appearing in the presence of God for us; being touched with the feeling of our infirmities, sufferings, and sorrows; and also by his Spirit in our hearts he makes intercession according to the will of God, crying, Abba, Father.
For any whom God has gifted and called sincerely to preach faith in the same Christ, both as within and without us, cannot be to preach two Christs, but one and the same Lord Jesus Christ; having respect to those degrees of our spiritual knowledge of Christ Jesus in us, and to his own unspeakable fullness and glory, as in himself; in his own entire being; in which Christ himself, and the least measure of his light or life, as in us, or in mankind, are not divided or separable, any more than the sun is from its light. And as He ascended far above all heavens, that he might fill all things, his fullness cannot be comprehended or contained in any finite creature, but is in measure known and experienced in us, as we are capable to receive the same; as of his fullness we have received grace for grace. Christ our Mediator received the Spirit, not by measure, but in fullness; but to everyone of us is given grace, according to the measure of his gift.
That the gospel of the grace of God should be preached in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, being one in power, wisdom and goodness, and indivisible, or not to be divided in the great work of man's salvation.
We sincerely confess and believe in Jesus Christ, both as he is true God and perfect man, and that he is the Author of our living faith in the power and goodness of God, as manifest in his Son Jesus Christ, and by his own blessed Spirit or divine unction revealed in us, by which we inwardly feel and taste of his goodness of life and virtue; so as our souls live and prosper by and in him, and in the inward sense of this divine power of Christ, and faith in the same; and this inward experience is absolutely necessary to make a true, sincere, and perfect Christian in spirit and life.
That divine honor and worship are due to the Son of God; and that he is in true faith to be prayed unto, and the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ called upon, as the primitive Christians did, because of the glorious union or oneness of the Father and the Son; and that we cannot acceptably offer up prayer or praises to God, nor receive a gracious answer or blessing from God, but in and through his dear Son Christ,
That Christ's body which was crucified, was not the Godhead, yet by the power of God was raised from the dead; and that the same Christ who was therein crucified, ascended into heaven and glory is not questioned by us. His flesh saw no corruption; it did not corrupt; but yet doubtless his body was changed into a more glorious and heavenly condition than it was when subject to many sufferings on earth; but how and what manner of change it met withal after it was raised from the dead, so as to become such a glorious body as it is declared to be, is too wonderful for mortals to conceive, apprehend, or pry into; and more fit for angels to see. The Scripture is silent therein, as to the manner, and we are not curious to inquire or dispute it; nor do we esteem it necessary to make ourselves wise above what is written, as to the manner or condition of Christ's glorious body as in heaven, any more than to inquire how Christ appeared in several manners or forms, or how he came in among his disciples, the doors being shut; or how he vanished out of their sight, after he was risen. However, we have cause to believe his body is in heaven, is changed into a most glorious condition, far transcending what it was in on earth; otherwise how should our low body be changed, so as to be made like unto his glorious body; for when he was on earth, and attended with sufferings, he was said to be like unto us in all things, sin only excepted; of which may not be so said of him as now in a state of glory, as he prayed for; otherwise where would be the change both in him and us?
True and living faith in Christ Jesus the Son of the living God, has respect to his entire being and fullness; to him entirely, as in himself and as all power in heaven and earth is given unto him; and also an eye and respect to the same Son of God, as inwardly making himself known in the soul in every degree of his light, life, spirit, grace, and truth; and as he is both the Word of faith and a quickening Spirit in us, by which he is the immediate cause, author, object, and strength of our living faith in his name and power, and of the work of our salvation from sin and bondage of corruption. And the Son of God cannot be divided from the least or lowest appearance of his own divine light or life in us or in mankind, no more than the sun from its own light; nor is the sufficiency of his light within, by us set up in opposition to him the man Christ, or his fullness considered as in himself, or without us; nor can any measure or degree of light received from Christ, as such, be properly called the fullness of Christ, or Christ as in fullness, nor exclude him, so considered, from being our complete Saviour: for Christ himself to be our light, our life and Saviour, is so consistent, that without his light we could not know life, nor him to save us from sin or deliver us from darkness, condemnation or wrath to come.
And where the least degree or measure of this light and life of Christ within, is sincerely waited for, followed and obeyed, there is a blessed increase of light and grace known and felt; as the path of the just shines more and more, until the perfect day; and thereby a growing in grace, and in the knowledge of God, and of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, has been, and is truly experienced.
And this light, life, or Spirit of Christ within, for they are one divine principle, is sufficient to lead into all truth, having in it the several ministrations both of judgment and mercy, both of law and gospel; even that gospel which is preached in every intelligent creature under heaven. It does not only, as in its first ministration, manifest sin, and reprove and condemn for sin; but also excites and leads those who believe in it to true repentance, and thereupon to receive that mercy, pardon and redemption in Christ Jesus, which he has obtained for mankind, on those gospel terms of faith in his name, true repentance, and conversion to Christ, thereby required. So that the light and life of the Son of God within, truly obeyed and followed, as being the principle of the second or new covenant, as Christ the light is confessed to be, even he is the Seed or Word of faith in all men; this does not leave men or women who believe in the light, under the first covenant, nor sons of the bondwoman, as the literal Jews were when gone from the Spirit of God and his Christ in them; but it naturally leads them into the new covenant, into the new and living way, and to the adoption of sons, to be children and sons of the freewoman, of Jerusalem from above.
It is true that we ought not to lay aside, nor should any undervalue, but highly esteem true preaching and the Holy Scriptures, and the sincere belief and faith of Christ, as he died for our sins, and rose again for our justification, together with Christ's inward and spiritual appearance and work of grace in the soul, in life to open the mystery of his death, and perfectly to effect our reconciliation, sanctification, and justification; and whoever Christ qualifies and calls any to preach and demonstrate the mystery of his coming, death and resurrection, etc., even among the Gentiles, Christ ought accordingly to be both preached, and believed and received.
Yet supposing there have been or are such pious and conscientious Gentiles, in whom Christ was and is as the seed or principle of the second or new covenant, the Light, the Word of faith, as is granted, and that such live uprightly and faithfully to that Light they have, or to what is made known of God in them, and who therefore, in that state, cannot perish, but shall be saved, as is also confessed; and supposing these have not the outward advantage of preaching, Scripture, or then the knowledge of Christ's outward coming, and being outwardly crucified and risen from the dead, can such, thus considered, be justly excluded Christianity or the covenant of grace, as to the virtue, life, and nature, or truly deemed no Christians, or void of any Christian faith in the life end power of the Son of God within, or be only sons of the first covenant and bondwoman, like the literal outside Jews? Or must all be excluded any true knowledge or faith of Christ within them, unless they have the knowledge of Christ as without them? Surely not! For that would imply insufficiency in Christ and his light as within them, and frustrate God's good end and promise of Christ, and his free and universal love and grace to mankind in sending his Son. We charitably believe the contrary, that they must have some true faith and interest in Christ and his mediation, because of God's free love in Christ to all mankind, and Christ's dying for all men, and being given for a light of the Gentiles, and for salvation to the ends of the earth. And because of their living up sincerely and faithfully to his light in them, their being pious, conscientious, accepted, and saved, as is granted, we cannot reasonably think a sincere, pious or godly man, to be wholly void of Christianity, of whatever nation he may be; because none can come to God or godliness but by Christ, by his light and grace in them: yet granted if there were such pious and sincere men or women as those who have not the Scripture, or knowledge of Christ as outwardly crucified, etc., they are not perfect Christians in all perfections, as in all knowledge, and understanding all points of doctrine, and outward profession of Christ; so that they are better than they profess or pretend to be; they are more Jews inward, and Christians inward, than in outward show or profession.
There are Christians sincere and perfect in kind or nature, in life and substance, though not in knowledge and understanding. A man or woman having the life and fruits of true Christianity, the fruits of the Spirit of Christ in them, who can talk little, or of creeds, points or articles of faith, yes many that cannot read, yet may be true Christians in spirit and life: and some could die for Christ that could not dispute for him. And even infants that die in innocence, are not excluded the grace of God, or salvation in and by Christ Jesus; the image and nature of the Son of God being in some measure in them, and they under God's care and special providence. See Mat 18:3.
And though we had the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, and a belief of Christ crucified and risen, etc., we never truly knew the mystery until we were turned to the light of his grace and Spirit within us. We knew not what it was to be reconciled by his death and saved by his life, or what it was to know the fellowship of his suffering, the power of his resurrection, or to be made conformable unto his death — we knew not, until he opened our eyes and turned our minds from darkness unto his own divine light and life within us.
Notwithstanding, we do so sincerely and greatly esteem and value the Holy Scriptures, preaching and teaching of faithful, divinely inspired, gifted, and qualified persons and ministers of Jesus Christ, as being great outward helps, and instrumental in his hand, and by his Spirit for conversion; where God is pleased to afford those outward helps and means; as that we neither do nor may oppose the sufficiency of the light or Spirit of Christ within to such outward helps or means, so as to reject, disesteem, or undervalue them; for they all proceed from the same light and Spirit, and tend to turn men's minds thereunto, and all center therein.
Nor can the Holy Scriptures or true preaching without, be justly set in opposition to the light or Spirit of God or Christ within; for his faithful messengers are ministers, being sent to turn people to the same light and Spirit in them.
It is certain that great is the mystery of godliness in itself in its own being and excellence, namely, that God should be and was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory.
It is a great and precious mystery of godliness and Christianity also, that Christ should be spiritually and effectively in men's hearts, to save and deliver them from sin, Satan, and bondage of corruption; Christ being thus revealed in true believers, and dwelling in their hearts by faith: Christ within the hope of glory, our light and life, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; Col 1:27, John 1:4, 1 Cor 1:30. Therefore this mystery of godliness, both as in its own being and glory, and also as in men, in many hidden and in some revealed, has been and must be testified, preached, and believed, where God is pleased to give commission and prepare people's hearts for the same, and not in man's will.
Concerning the resurrection of the dead, and the great day of judgment yet to come, beyond the grave or after death, and Christ’s coming without us, to judge the quick and the dead, as several questions are put in such terms ; what the holy Scriptures plainly declare and testify in these matters, we have great reason to credit and not to question, and have been always ready to embrace with respect to Christ and his apostles' own testimony and prophecies.
1. For the Doctrine of the Resurrection. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable; 1 Cor 15:19. We sincerely believe, not only a resurrection in Christ from the fallen, sinful state here, but a rising and ascending into glory with him hereafter; that when he at last appears we may appear with him in glory; Col. 3:4, 1 John 3:2. But that all the wicked, who live in rebellion against the light of grace, and die finally impenitent, shall come forth to the resurrection of condemnation. And that the soul or spirit of every man and woman shall be reserved in its own distinct and proper being, so as there shall be as many souls in the world to come as in this; and every seed, yet every soul, shall have its proper body, as God is pleased to give it; 1 Cor 15. A natural body is sown, a spiritual body is raised; that being first which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual. And though it is said this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality; the change shall be such as flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption; 1 Cor 15:50. We shall be raised out of all corruption and corruptibility, out of all mortality; and the children of God and of the resurrection, shall be equal to the angels of God in heavens.
And as the celestial bodies do far excel terrestrial; so we expect our spiritual bodies in the resurrection shall far excel what our bodies now are; and we hope none can justly blame us for thus expecting better bodies than now they are. However we esteem it very unnecessary to dispute or question how the dead are raised, or with what body they come; but rather submit that to the wisdom and pleasure of Almighty God.
2. For the Doctrine of Eternal Judgment. God has committed all judgment to his Son Jesus Christ; and he is judge both of quick and dead, and of the states and ends of all mankind; John 5:22, 27, Acts 1o:2, 2 Tim 4: 1, 1 Pet 4:5.
That there shall be hereafter a great harvest, which is the end of the world; a great day of judgment, and the judgment of that great day, the holy Scripture is clear. When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him; then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations, ... Mat 25:31-32, to the end, compared with chap. 22:31, Mark 8: 38, Luke 9:26, and 1 Cor.15:52, 2 Thes 1:7-8, to the end, and 1 Thes 4:16, Rev 20:12-15.
That this blessed heavenly Man, this Son of Man, who has so deeply suffered, and endured so many great indignities and persecutions from his adversaries, both to himself and his members and brethren, will at last, even in the last and great day, signally and manifestly appear in glory and triumph, attended with all his glorious heavenly host and retinue, before all nations, before all his enemies, and those that have denied him. This will be to their great terror and amazement; that this most glorious heavenly man and his brethren, that have been so much condemned counted for nothing, should be thus exalted over their enemies and persecutors, in glory and triumph, is a righteous thing with God; and that those who suffer with him, should appear with him in glory and dignity when he thus appears at last. Christ was judge of the world and the prince when on earth; John 9:39, 12:31; he is still Judge of the world, the wickedness, and prince thereof, by his light, Spirit, and gospel in men's hearts and consciences; John 16:8-11, Mat 12:18, 20, Isa 42:1, Rom 2:16, 1 Pet 4:6; and he will be the Judge and final determiner in that great day appointed; God having appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained. Christ foretold, it shall be more tolerable for them of the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city or people that would not receive his messengers or ministers, etc.; Mat 10:15, 11:24, Mark 6:11, Luke 10:12-14. It is certain that God knows how to deliver the godly out of all their trials and afflictions, and at last to bring them forth and raise them up into glory with Christ; so he knows also how to reserve the unjust and finally impenitent unto the day of judgment, to be punished; 2 Pet 2:4. He will bring them forth unto the day of destruction; Job 21:30. The Lord can and will reserve such impenitent, presumptuous, and rebellious criminals, as bound under chains of darkness, as were the fallen angels, unto the judgment of the great day; Jude 6, Mat 25:30. It is not for us to determine or dispute the manner how they shall be so reserved; but leave it to God; he knows how.
Touching the opinion of the revolution or transmigration of human souls, or their passing out of one body into another, etc., as it is deemed originally to have sprung from the heathen, and was received among Jews and some others by tradition, and said to be the opinion of Empedocles, Pythagoras, and the Egyptians, and partly of Julian the apostate when he dreamed that the soul of Alexander the Great was crept into his carcass, or rather that he was Alexander himself in another body; and thereupon rejecting the suit of the Persians for peace, presumptuously proceeded in the war and to bloodshed against them, until, at unawares, he got his death's wound, according as is more fully related in history; particularly Socrates's Scholasticus, lib. 1, chap. 17, and lib. iii. chap. 18. Eccles. Chron. fol. 577. See also Dr. Hammond's Annotations on John 9:1-3. We are not concerned in any such notion, but, as a people, are wholly clear of it.
We deem it neither necessary to faith, nor safe to receive or defend, as either held by those heathen Egyptians or Jews before said; nor as it is insinuated in a late pamphlet of two hundred queries, concerning the doctrine of the revolution of human souls, supposing twelve revolutions, or twelve distinct intervals of life to every man, as being twelve several times born into the world; for each one to live or consummate the space of one thousand years on earth. Though this opinion of such revolution appears not to be a point in present controversy in the book before said, or in Pennsylvania, nor maintained as any divine opening, revelation, or necessary article of faith, but rather evaded from being a public controversy; yet since as there appears some ground of suspicion in the case, and as it seems to be favored implicitly by some; therefore, that we as a people may not be suspected about it, we sincerely declare our clearness from the said opinion, as really esteeming it not safe to propagate, or maintain, or trouble people's heads or minds with it; but that all should improve their present time and mercies. And we are the less concerned about the before said queries and doctrine, because we find not any known person or persons of credible authority, that will adventure to assert that opinion, either as divinely revealed or opened, or as necessary to be believed or received as an article of faith, or that will undertake to demonstrate how many times or intervals of life they themselves have lived upon earth, and what transactions or remarkable passages, or things good or bad, they have done or passed through in those their supposed past intervals of life.
To conclude: as we are persuaded lack of walking in the true light, and lack of Christian charity is the great cause of divisions in professed Christian societies of all sorts, and; of this difference among a few persons in America, professing the same light and truth with us: we are ashamed of and surprised at the bitter language, and severe consequences and treatment, in some of the printed book from one party, and the exposing of the weaknesses and unwarrantable expressions of some of the other, to the open enemies of both, and of religion itself; all which, as also to make any public rent in a religious society or personal offences or private occasions, are greatly unbecoming our Christian profession, charity, or Society.
And we pray God rebuke and stop this troublesome spirit of enmity and division wherever it is; for it makes great disturbance and trouble in the creation, and where it enters in church or state; yet its ill work is no new thing. It was the same spirit that infested and troubled the primitive Christian churches, causing divisions and offences contrary to the gospel of peace, at first received, and by which parties and schisms were made; and one said I am of Paul, another of Apollos, another of Cephas; which carnality the apostle reproved, as knowing and testifying that Christ, whom they all professed, is not divided. And if Christian tenderness and charity might influence all parties, we see no real cause for these few persons before said to divide or separate outwardly, especially about doctrine, seeing both profess one light, one Spirit, one God, and one Lord Jesus Christ, and faith in him, and sincerely to believe the holy Scriptures. And even the person charging the other in print, professes to "own the body of the people called Quakers, and seems to approve of our ancient, faithful, and generally approved Friends, writers or publishers of our doctrines and principles, and preachers among us generally owned and approved by us, as men of sound judgment and understanding, and as owning the fundamental articles of the Christian and Protestant faith.” Thus far the person charging, in his "Serious Appeal," page 6. As also the same person further openly signified at the other friends' meeting, that "he and his friends had unity with the most there as to the main. As also with all faithful friends everywhere, excepting only some in their meeting that were unsound," etc.-"Reason and causes," page 26. And therefore if most on both sides have unity as to the main, we may charitably suppose they do not differ in the main or substance of Christian faith or doctrine before cited, and sincerely owned and confessed by us; if tenderly and duly considered by both sides, as men seeking peace, love, and concord. Therefore the difference was very indiscreetly managed, aggravated, and exposed to separation, printing, and reproach, seeing it was not in the main.
We wholly dislike such rending and tearing, such dividing and aggravating proceedings, and bitter treatment, and have no unity with that; but desire the Lord in mercy to repair the breaches, and heal the backslidings among them, and among all that are esteemed Christian professions and societies, and incline all to the main, to the true light, to the substance and life of Christianity, to true love, fervent charity, and tender-heartedness and forgiveness towards one another, and to follow peace with all men, and holiness; without which no man shall see the Lord.
A Postscript, relating to the Doctrine of the Resurrection and Eternal Judgment
Many are often alarmed in conscience here by the word and voice of God, who stop their ears and slight those warnings; but the great and final alarm of the last trumpet, they cannot stop their ears against nor escape. It will unavoidably seize upon, and further awaken them finally to judgment. They that will not be alarmed in their consciences unto repentance, nor out of their sins here, must certainly be alarmed to judgment hereafter.
Whosoever do now willfully shut their eyes, hate, condemn, or shun the light of Christ, or his appearance within, shall at last be made to see, and not be able to shun or hide themselves from his glorious and dreadful appearance from heaven with his mighty angels, as with lightning and in flaming fire, to render vengeance on all those who know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; 1 Thes 4:16,Mat 24:27, Luke 21:27, Dan 10:6, Job 37:3. And though many now evade and reject the Inward convictions and Judgment of the light, and shut up the records or books in their own consciences, they shall all be at last opened, and everyone judged of those things recorded therein according to their works; Rev. 20:11-15.
Signed in behalf of our Christian profession and people before said;
George Whitehead, Charles Marshall,
A Letter of Encouragement to the Quaker Survivors
The second epistle, printed in the year 1665, after the heat of the contagion was past, was entitled
An epistle for the remnant Friends and chosen of God, whom he has preserved to bear their testimony, in and around the city of London. To whom this testimony of the dear love and tender care which flows forth, and is extended toward you and all tender hearts who are concerned for the like sufferings, temptations and trials. From their faithful friend and servant in the Lord, GEORGE WHITEHEAD
My dearly beloved friends, brethren and sufferers, among whom my soul has travailed, and suffered for the afflicted's sake, whose burdens and trials are still with me in spirit, and also the love, tenderness, care and freeness of spirit that has appeared among you towards the afflicted and harmless sufferers, who have been led and driven as sheep to the slaughter, for the witness of Jesus and good conscience.
Dear hearts, I feel towards you all, in the spirit and unity of true love in the elect of God, in which life and dominion are felt by all who wait patiently upon the Lord, in true submission to his eternal power and counsel, and in the exercises, trials and hardships, that righteous seed is beset withal; that being thoroughly tried, so that you may come forth as gold thoroughly refined, and the righteous through all these things may go on in their way, and the innocent and clean in heart may grow stronger and stronger in the Lord, that truth and righteousness may for ever shine forth among you, and all his elect, to the praise of his name. He beholds, feels and bears the sufferings of his people, in his long suffering and patience, wherein the spirits of his chosen ones are exercised, and by which they shall overcome, and be more than conquerors, where neither calamities, distresses, life nor death, shall ever be able to separate from that love, virtue, life and glory, revealed in the faithful in Christ.
My dear hearts, the glory and weight of God's righteous testimony of life and salvation, being in his light truly and evidently manifested in and among you, you have great cause forever to prize his love and glorify his name, and stick close to him, whatever perils, trials, oppositions, sufferings or temptations, you ever meet. Be of a constant spirit and upright mind, in the unchangeable truth to the Lord God of life, in whom your preservation and safety stand; knowing that no weight of affliction or suffering here, is comparable to the weight of eternal life and salvation in Christ Jesus, which you are called unto, through the glorious appearance of God's power and gospel of peace and salvation; for the true sense and enjoyment thereof, does certainly out-balance and far exceed, all the sufferings and trials of the present time, though they are very many and deep.
Let none of you be discouraged or shaken in mind at things of this nature, for because of the seeming advantage or occasion, that the wicked and rebellious and envious spirits, or such as are in prejudice, do take against us, because of that common calamity and late mortality, which has befallen many of the righteous, as well as the unrighteous, as to the outward man, in the city of London. For God's testimony and glory shine, and will shine and break through all these clouds of afflictions, sufferings and reproaches, with which the habitation of the righteous have been, and is encompassed. Yet the faithfulness and uprightness of many innocent lambs of Christ, in and about that city, are never to be forgotten, which so greatly did appear and shine forth in standing to their testimony, and keeping to the truth in tenderness of conscience and sincerity towards God; who has called us to meet together in his fear, and in his everlasting name and power, with a real respect to his glory and righteous cause, which is concerned in the obedience of his people, both in that and all other duties and acts required by him. Their obedience in spiritual worship, many have not denied or declined, neither under the trials which have proceeded from men, nor under those which came from God; but whether they have been liable to fall into the hands of God or men, for the proof of their faith, they have not departed from Him who makes up his jewels through trials and tribulations. In all of these, his fatherly care is felt, and his tender mercy and compassion is seen towards his own, as to his peculiar offspring, tender babes, sons, and faithful servants, whom he loves, and therefore chastises and tries, not in anger and fury, but in love, fatherly care and pity; so that those whose eyes are open in the true light, and in a right mind and spirit, have thoroughly weighted the state of the suffering seed among us, which is in the faith of Abraham, brought forth by the immortal power of an endless life; considering the faithfulness and godly sincerity of a remnant, whose life has testified for God herein, both in doing good, and suffering for well-doing. Such who have thus weighed this suffering state, do plainly see, that neither Satan nor his instruments, have any real advantage against any of the remnant of this seed, through any of these trials or sufferings, either from the hands of God or men. Many have kept their integrity to the last, and have embraced their trials and afflictions in God's tender love, and have had such unity therewith, that they have been far from either blaspheming or cursing God, as the wicked many times have done and will do, when plagues, woes, torments and pains seize upon them. Neither Satan nor his instruments have had their evil designs answered, as the devil would have had against Job under his affliction, when he sought to make him curse God to his face. The truth of our God, and the innocence of his people, who know the redemption of the soul, which is precious, shall stand over both men and devils, so that as the truth is over the devil himself — who has the power of death and darkness -even to the confounding and stopping their mouths, who are actuated by the power and spirit of enmity and darkness, may be convicted, confounded, and left without excuse before the Lord our God, who will be known to be clear when he judges.
Yes, blessed forever be the name of our God, who has given us strength and courage to stand in an evil day, over hell and death and the devil, with all his fiery darts and fierce assaults against the righteous. The Lord has spared and will spare a remnant, to bear his mark and name on the earth, and to hold forth a living testimony for his glory and praise among the sons of men, for which many have not loved their lives unto death, but have offered up their lives, as many manifestly did last summer in London in the plague. Many offered up their lives and all for truth and their afflicted brethren and sisters; for whose sake my soul has been greatly bowed down and afflicted, and my bowels have yearned for them, and I was so moved by compassion and brokenness of spirit, that neither life itself, nor any outward privilege, seemed so dear to me to resign for their sakes.
In the city and prisons, some of the persecutors of that time appeared cruel and wicked to the innocent, to destroy them in the pestilential places of confinement, in which many also died on ship-board – where so many were confined for banishment – many laid down their lives for the witness of a good conscience. Although the wicked for a time may be lifted up in their wickedness, and insult us because of our deep trials and the many deaths of so many innocent people, yet their hate being so increased and hardened against us – who are the people of the Lord – only makes for their worse destruction and misery. Their torment, which slumbers not, is more than that of many who have died of the pestilence, by which many, both of good and bad have been removed. To those that remain alive and remain in their sins, without regard to the warning of the plague, it will prove the greatest plague and judgment, who are the least considerate, being insensible of the hand of the Lord in it, or of their states and conditions. As to this particular calamity or sickness, it is in itself not the worst of judgments, that God has in store for a sinful, provoking, rebellious people or nation. And God’s controversy is not yet over for this nation, nor the vials of his displeasure have been emptied upon the enemies and persecutors of his seed. What a sure and heavy judgment it is, and what misery it does predict to many in this land, that so many innocent and righteous persons of it should be taken away, as those of the world are not worthy; but such are taken away from the evil to come, and from future calamities, as set in safety forever, from those that have puffed at them, and made a prey of them in their lifetime.
And the life, peace, satisfaction and comfort that many innocent Friends felt, and that some expressed and signified on their death beds, I am a living witness of, for them; dying sometimes, as the Lord has drawn me in his love, been present with many of them when they were very low in the outward man, and with many when upon their death beds, in that destructive prison of Newgate, and some other places. Yes, when sorrow and sadness have seized upon my spirit, and my heart and soul have been pierced and wounded when I have seen the sad sufferings of so many harmless lambs, on their sick beds in these noisome holes and prisons; yet at the same time having a deep sense and knowledge of the Lord's love and care to them in that condition, and truly felt his life and power stirring among them; this, on the other hand, has refreshed and revived my spirit, knowing that Christ their salvation and redemption was manifest to and in them, though in that suffering slate, as they have followed and obeyed him through sufferings and tribulations. With such, to live, was Christ in that state, and to die was gain; it being through death that the Lord had appointed the final deliverance of many, from the cruelties and rod of their oppressors, and from the miseries and evils to come.
The faithfulness, uprightness, and innocence of many of those that were taken away, their constancy of spirit to the Lord and his living truth, their unfeigned love to the brethren — by which it was evident they had passed from death to life, — and that living and faithful testimony they bore for the Lord in their lifetime, being well known and manifest among us; their memorial is truly precious to us, and never to be forgotten; and we are satisfied that they were counted worthy for the Lord, and the world was not worthy of them.
And besides some whom God has restored and raised up again, who yet remain alive with us, who were under the same trial and sickness, can testify to God's tender love to them; how freely they were by faith given up to the Lord, under it in his love and favor, which they partook of, either to die or live, as he should be pleased to dispose of them, knowing that some that were very dear to the Lord, even some of his choice jewels and peculiar treasure were removed by it.
So that I must say what I have seen and felt, that as to the state of faithful Friends in this case, some by faith according to the will of God were given up, and desirous rather to die than live; and therein freely embraced the outward affliction, which was but for a moment, in comparison; knowing that to die would be a great advantage and gain to them, that thereby they should be freed from future sufferings and evils, and their spirits should rest in everlasting peace, joy and triumph. Others by faith were singly given up in the will of God to die, if he should so dispose of them, not in themselves expecting life or recovery, and yet in so being given up, have been restored, to bear their testimony among us, having known and felt that in patience resign to the will of God in self-denial, abasement and humility in their affliction, was most consistent with their peace. And some others of us by faith according to the will of God, have been kept over the distemper, and till now preserved alive; not for any respect that we may assume to ourselves in the matter, nor for any reason, as I know, that can be shown for us more than for some innocent persons that were taken away, but that the Lord had a respect to his own glory and further service for himself, which he had for us to do and be employed in; and that he will preserve a remnant as he has determined, to bear his name and hold forth his testimony among men, in their innocent lives and holy conversations. The glory and praise we give to the Lord, desiring all of us may faithfully serve him in godly fear and true humility, the days we have to sojourn here, that we all may ever be to his praise, in whose hand we are, whether we live or die. For he makes all things work together for good, to those who love Him, who are not offended in Him in any of their tribulations or temptations, when the hour of temptation is upon all flesh, to try those who dwell upon the face of the earth. He has committed unto us the word of his patience, who is Israel's keeper, is our preserver, support and refuge through all these things. He has made us co-workers together in one and the same spirit of faith and life, wherein he obeyed and submitted to, by his faithful people and servants in their several states, trials and exercises; and among whom the various effects and fruits of the same faith are seen and brought forth, according to his will, who gives life and preservation.
And now, if such as take advantage against us, whether they are open or secret smiters or enemies, did either rightly or seriously weigh their conditions, and let God's witness judge the case, they have no cause to boast or insult over us, for they are not their own keepers, nor is their life continued by their own power; and how soon their time may expire, and their judgment overtake them, they know not, nor how soon their days may be cut asunder. Their condemnation slumbers not, who in the pride of their hearts and presumption of their spirits, turn against the suffering seed of God, under whatever profession and pretence, though under pretence of the name of the Lord, or profession of the truth itself; and knowing also, that many who were of their own spirit and principle, have also been taken away under the same calamity — for it has extended to all sorts, both holy and profane — they have cause to dread and fear before the Lord, and ought not to be high minded or presumptuous. For the mouth of the boaster and exalted must be stopped, and all flesh and carnal reason is to be silent in this matter, for God's power is over it all, and over that which has threatened or brought evil tidings against his Israel. We know the same spirit that turns against us, and watches for occasions, and prophesies our destruction, would have it come to pass, so as to be recognized a true prophet; and that the murderer that kills the poor, the same that is in our open enemies, and the same that was in Cain against his brother; and he that is in this spirit, or principle of enmity or prejudice, has no eternal life abiding in him. Oh let this thing be published in the ears of God's people, and let friends feel my innocent intention and end; having written the more of this nature for prevention of the enemy's subtlety and temptations of this kind, that the tender and weak may not be ensnared thereby; and having seen how Satan attacks such with temptations upon these deep trials, to undermine their hope, and to create unbelief and despair in the mind, to turn them from the truth, and how he makes use of his instruments in the same way, to effect his evil end against us; but the Lord will rebuke him, and bruise him under the feet of his own anointed seed and faithful people.
A common calamity or distemper, as this,
which has brought such great mortality, as it
has been appointed and permitted of the
Lord, has extended and operated according to the spreading and contagious nature and
property of it, to the bodies of both old and young, good and bad, innocent and guilty;
yes, to many that know not their right hand
from the left. But the iniquities and abominations of the wicked were the cause of God's
anger and displeasure in this, and the original
cause of this calamity; the creation being
oppressed under their wickedness, and the
earth defiled under the inhabitants, which
cause Heaven to frown upon the world,
and the curse to go forth, and blessing to be
withheld from them. The taking away of
good and merciful men, and many innocent persons, though it is in love to themselves,
yet it is in judgment against the other, who
have brought innocent blood upon their own
heads, by their cruelties and persecutions, and
whose hearts are hardened and become implacable
against truth and righteousness, and
all those who walk in it, whose souls have
been daily vexed and oppressed, through the
ungodly and unchristian conversation of the
(Note: Sermons were never pre written or even outlined by a true minister of Christ, who spoke totally under inspiration and control of the Holy Spirit. Quaker sermons were rarely recorded and saved for later reading, as this one was. I am only aware of 4 -5 five other sermons recorded by Quakers, and those were in the Annual Meetings where thousands attended. A non-Quaker recorded thirty-two outstanding sermons of Stephen Crisp.)
The great God who made Heaven and earth, the God of our salvation, has prepared a sacrifice for himself in the hearts of a remnant, whom he has gathered by the arm of his mighty power, and has kindled that sacrifice that is of his own preparing; and this to a remnant, is a manifest token of the love of God, and of his divine and special providence for their safety and preservation that trust in him, and that are sincerely devoted to his service and fear, and that walk in humility before him; and this, my friends, is matter of weighty and tender concern upon my spirit, to mind all of you that come to our Meetings, and hear the Truth declared from time to time, that you seriously consider the great work that the Lord is about to bring to pass, that everyone should wait for, that they may feel his mighty power preparing their hearts for himself, and raising up breathings and supplications to him, that is a God hearing prayers that are offered in uprightness and sincerity from a broken heart and a contrite spirit, which are sacrifices that the Lord has regard to. As it was said of old, when Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the Lord, and the angel did wondrously, and Manoah and his wife looked on; for it came to pass, when the flame went towards heaven from off the alter, that the angle of the Lord ascended in the flame of the alter, and Manoah and his wife looked on and fell on their faces to the ground, and Manoah said to his wife, we shall surely die, because we have seen God. But his wife said unto him, if the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, and neither would he have showed us all these things. He would not have manifested so great a love to us; surely a remnant may say at this day, from a sense of the great things that the Lord has shown us, and of his blessed power working in their hearts and inward parts, a tenderness and subjection to him, that we owe obedience to the Lord, and we believe that the Lord intends good to his people, in that he will exalt his name in us, and prosper his own work of righteousness, that righteousness may be exalted, that many may come to behold the great things, and the worthy things which the Lord our God will bring to pass in our day.
These things have been foretold for the encouragement, and for the strengthening of the faith of those whole faces are Zion-ward, whose eyes are turned towards the Lord their maker, who have tasted in some measure of the power, and of the goodness of the Lord our God, that they may continue in the faith, by which their hearts may be drawn after the Lord. That those who have been made partakers of the true and living faith of the Son of God, in his name and power, may keep the faith, and not let go of the faith. That they may hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering. That the enemy may not be allowed upon any account, either to weaken or destroy the faith of any, who have known some degree of faith in the work of God, and concerning his goodness, and special care and providence for the safety, and for the preservation of them that fear him; who are the called of the Lord, who are chosen out of the world, and out of the corruptions of it, that they may be a living and a peculiar people, and a chosen generation, to show forth the praise of him that has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. He has called us, and chosen us for that very end, that in our lives and conversation we might answer his call of grace, and the Truth that we are made Partakers of, and thereby show forth his praise; and such now, have cause to bless the Lord, and praise his holy name, for all his mercies for preserving of them, and helping them in their way, and in their spiritual journey and progress that they are brought into.
Therefore, dear Friends, be concerned, and be inward with the Lord, and attend upon him without distraction, that nothing may hurry, discompose, or distract your minds, or turn them about from the faith, truth, and confidence you have in the Lord. These he has gathered his people into, so that everyone may be exercised in a watchful state, and in lowliness and humility, and look unto, and depend upon the Lord for strength, for help, and power to enable us to stand against all the wiles of Satan. So that none may be led into any extreme from the sense of truth, and from a feeling of that power that prepares the heart for God and fix it upon him. So that none may be drawn out, either into carelessness, negligence, slothfulness, or presumption on the one hand, or into diffidence, or distrustfulness, or despair on the other. Instead, that all may look unto Jesus who is the author and finisher of their faith, that they may be sensible of the benefits of his death on earth, and of his intercession in Heaven, of the effect and benefit of his prayer unto the Father. So when they shall be tried and tempted, their faith may not fail. So that all may witness and partake of what he told unto Pete: I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not;Satan has desired to winnow you, (to toss you and blow you about), but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail.
So, my Friends and friendly people, let your faith stand in that power that has gathered you, in that arm of the Lord that he has made bare, and stretched forth to bring a people to himself; that everyone may live by faith, and have their dependence upon the Lord for strength and for relief, that they may partake of the immediate influence of his Spirit, which he is ready to minister, and communicate to those that are given up to serve the Lord; that your prayers and supplications may be in the spirit, to that God that pours out a spirit of grace and supplication upon his people; and he is daily pouring out his holy Spirit upon his people, that their prayers and supplications may reach to him, who is a God hearing prayer; that they may be prevalent with God, for the preservation of themselves and others, and for the good of all nations, that they may awaken many to repent, and seek the Lord, while he may be found, and call upon him while be is near, that they may be turned from the evil of their ways, and from the many provocations, by which the inhabitants of the earth have greatly incurred the displeasure of God, and that they may be sensible how ready the Lord is to turn away his wrath from them.
This is the desire of the hearts and souls of a remnant, on the behalf of many whom the Lord will yet visit and reach unto, and call out of the dark ways and by-paths of sin and corruption, that they may be brought into a capacity to know the way of truth, and righteousness, and peace. And my friends, while people are sensible that there are true breathings and desires after God, and that there is a particular travail of soul for the good of a nation; and for the converting of sinners from the evil of their ways, this is a sign that God is waiting to be gracious. He may visit a people and nation with chastisements and judgments; yet I am sensible it is for his peoples sake, even a remnant that he has gathered out of the empty professions and forms that are in the world, that the Lord is still waiting to be gracious, and extending his patience and long-suffering, that he may convince them, humble them, and overcome them with his love, and when he corrects and punishes, yet he has reserves of mercy for them, if they will repent and turn from sin, and humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may in due time exalt them, and bring them from under the weight of their iniquities, and the guilt of their transgressions, that they may receive mercy for his name's sake, and for his dear son's sake.
This is the breathing, and the travail of the souls of a remnant, and we may truly say, the Lord has left a seed, a small remnant that look to him and trust in him, though a people and nation have sinned against the Lord, who otherwise had been as Sodom and Gomorrah, if God had not left us a seed; yet for sake of a little seed, even for the sake of the worm Jacob, that wrestled with him by prayer and supplication, the Lord has spared many, and waited to be gracious to them. They are truly a people that are a praying people, that have the advantage of all others; yet I do not condemn all forms of profession, there are some that have a secret sincerity, and a fear of God, and a desire after the Lord, that are as sheep scattered upon the barren mountains, that yet the Lord will gather; there are those that have a secret longing and thirsting after the living God, that desire to know the things that belong to their peace; there are other sheep of Christ which are not of this fold, them also will he bring home, that they may know where the green pastures are, and be led by the still waters, and find relief and refreshment from the Lord.
Therefore all those that the Lord has gathered and preserved, and kept to this moment, and helped supplied them, and continued his mercy to them, should be thankful and sensible of his living kindness, that by an invisible power has given them comfort and refreshment while they have been waiting on him; let their minds and hearts be still fixed upon the Lord, and staid on him, and he will preserve them in quietness and peace; and they shall know he will show his providence with them, that their bread may be sure, and their waters may not fail, the Lord will preserve them to the end of their days, in humility and lowliness, in which they may be capable of instruction, and by his holy Spirit he will lead them in the way they should walk; those that come unto the Lord with weeping and supplication, the Lord will lead by the rivers of water in a plain way, where they shall not stumble. The Lord our God has prepared a sacrifice, and he will accept that sacrifice which is of his own preparing, and this, I say to a remnant, is a manifest token of his love.
God Almighty preserve you, and bless the labors of his servants among you, who labor in the word and doctrine, and in the Gospel of your salvation while they are among you, that you may know the goodness of the Lord, that waits to be gracious, and have renewed experiences of his love; and observe for your encouragement, the tender care he is pleased to manifest towards his heritage, both in this and other places; we have great cause humbly to be thankful to God for what favors we enjoy, and to be diligent to make the best improvement we can of all the seasons of grace, and opportunities for working out our own salvation, which the Lord is pleased in his abundant mercy to afford unto us.
(Note: Recorded prayers are even more rarer than record of sermons. All speaking was through the power and direction of the Holy Spirit. To have someone recording the words is very rare.)
Glorious and blessed God, who is the God of all grace and mercy, and of all our helps and preservations. Unto this moment you have been with us, unto this day we have had your gracious Presence with us, even in the needful time. You have gathered us to be a peculiar people unto you. Your presence is the very life of our meetings, and the beauty and glory of our assemblies, with which from time to time you have succored and relieved and revived your people, whose eyes have been towards you, and whose expectations have been from you, to be supplied by your bountiful hand, with those living, divine, and heavenly supplies, with which you have from time to time relieved your people, the poor and needy, those whose souls are bowed down in deep humility in your sight and presence, so that, powerful Father of life we have great cause to remember you in your ways. We have cause to fear you, Oh Lord! and to think upon your name. We desire to wait upon you, and cry to you, and breathe after you, and trust in you. We bless you for the continuance of your love and goodness, for your renewed blessings and multiplied favors. We have abundant cause to bless, and praise, and honor you, Oh Lord! to magnify your great and excellent name, for your love and great goodness for making bare your mighty arm, and stretching it forth to help the helpless, and to relieve and support the poor and needy, whose trust is in you, whose confidence you have raised up by your power, to stand in your presence. Oh righteous, powerful Father of Life, gather your people more and more into an inward sense, and feeling, and experience of your power and goodness; that their hearts may be engaged to yourself, to walk before you in an holy awe and reverence, and with such sincerity, humility, lowliness, and tenderness of heart, as become those that have the enjoyment of your presence, and as become our solemn meeting, and appearing before you from time to time. That all your people who are called by your grace, who are convinced and persuaded of your blessed truth, may be truly and realistically awakened, and stirred up, into a sense of your glorious power. That they may know what it is to appear before you, and how they ought to come before you, the most glorious, and most high and holy God, who inhabits eternity, dwells in the highest heavens, and yet has a place in the lowest hearts; in the hearts of those that with true reverence, and holy fear, desire to worship you with such a frame of spirit, and temper of mind and heart, as you require in all those who approach your presence. We beg the influence of your grace and divine Spirit, that with it we may be comforted and refreshed. And grant us by grace, Oh Lord, such sweet incomes of your love, and such renewing of your blessing, that they settle and establish our minds and hearts in a sense of your goodness, and of your power and presence. So that we may not be shaken in our minds, nor weakened in faith and confidence in you by any temptation whatever. So that, Lord God eternal, the hearts of your people may be fixed, trusting in you, and in your blessed name and power, and find safety and preservation. So that all your people everywhere, may be sensible that you are their dwelling place, as you have been in all generations. And so, Lord God eternal, let them dwell in you, and you dwell in them, and say, this is my habitation, for I have desired it. So that, blessed Father of life, they may be sensible of your love in it, that no calamities, nor distresses, nor sword, nor famine, nor necessities, nor afflictions, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, may be able to separate them from your love in Christ Jesus. Oh Lord! So your People may say to you, as Israel said of old, if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us, then the waters would have overwhelmed us, and the stream would have gone over our souls. Our help is in you, Oh Lord, that made heaven and earth. Your name, and your power, and your mighty power have appeared for us, and compassed us about. You have surrounded your people with your favor as with a shield, and have preserved them, for the praise and the honor of your name, and have preserved them, for the praise and the honor of your name, and the exaltation of your holy truth. And the confidence and trust of a little remnant is, that you will still be with them, for their confidence is in your name, which is a strong tower, and their dependence is upon you. You will not cut off a people which you have appointed for your praise, you will not destroy them, but surround them with your mercy and salvation, as with walls and bulwarks about them; this is the belief and confidence that you have raised in the hearts of a remnant. Therefore, Oh Lord, we have cause to wait upon you, and continually to trust you in you, and breathe and cry unto you, for your whole heritage. To cry for all them whom you have gathered by the arm of your power, that they may be preserved faithful to the end of their days, that they may be saved from the evils, and pollutions, and corruptions of the world, that they may be obedient to your call, and to your heavenly counsel, that they may come to wait upon you, and hearken to your voice, as those that are willing to obey, and not to touch any unclean thing; but being sensible of your goodness, you will turn away your wrath from those who run from their provocations. For this end you have raised desires and breathings, and begotten a travail in the souls of a remnant of the sons and daughters of men, particularly for the land of our nativity. We pray both for high and low, rich and poor, rulers and people, that by your powerful visitation, they may be excited to seek the Lord, and to wait upon you, and walk in humility in your sight and presence; that they may desire none in heaven but you, and none upon earth in comparison of you. Work an effectual deliverance, and salvation for us both inward and outward, that our confidence may not be in anything below you. Let every one of us have an understanding, and an eye opened for the light of truth, that we may look unto you, and expect salvation from you, by Jesus Christ our mediator and redeemer. Remember all your people here, and elsewhere, that are acceptable to you. Keep them in a sense of your power, and in humility before you, that they may receive comfort, and wisdom, and instruction from you, and graciously establish their goings, and keep them in the way in which they are to walk, the way of truth and righteousness, life and peace. Be known in the assemblies of all your people, and revive and strengthen them, and be with all your people in their respective families, that they may be engaged to serve you, and fear you, in sincerity and humility, and call upon your name; that you, Lord God everlasting, may take care of them, and your special providence may watch over them, and let the angels of your presence pitch their tents about all those who fear your name. Blessed and everlasting father of mercies, dwell among us, hide and secure us under the shadow of your wings, that we may enjoy communion with you, through Jesus Christ your dearly beloved son, and our alone savior; and offer up living sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving unto you, the God of all our mercies, blessings, and deliverances, for you alone are worthy, who is God over all, blessed forever and ever.
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