“We shall succeed in our struggle, provided we repent of our sins & forsake them. I will see it out or go to Heaven in its ruins.” ~ John Adams to Benjamin Rush 1777 concerning the Revolutionary War of Independence
PROMISE OF GOD
THE LATTER DAYS.
A Sermon preached at the Quakers’ Meeting-House, m Wheelers-Street, London, Oct. 21, 1694, in the afternoon.
BY WILLIAM PENN.
MY Friends, this is the day of God’s power and love, the day of grace and salvation; concerning which it was foretold by the prophet, that the people of God should have bread in their own houses, and water in their own cisterns. All you who have answered this day of God’s visitation, and behold the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ in your own hearts, that are found faithful, and diligent, and trusty with the talents which the Lord hath intrusted you with, that you may improve them for his glory, and your own everlasting benefit. The Lord is this day spreading his table, and bringing forth his dainties, and filling the cup of salvation, that he may satisfy his people as with marrow and fatness; and that they may celebrate his praises with joyful lips. This is a day wherein you may eat the bread of life, and drink the water of life; this is a day wherein God hath promised to teach his people himself; ‘They shall all be taught of God, and in righteousness and in truth shall they be established;’ that all that are professors of truth may be possessors of it. Now the way to this, is to receive the truth in the love of it, and to love the truth as it is in Jesus; yea, love it above all things in the world. Consider, my friends, where are your hearts and affections this day? Do you love God above all? Do you love him with all your hearts, with all your souls, and with all your strength? God will be served with the whole heart, ‘My son, give me thine heart.’ Examine now, whether God hath your hearts this day; I exhort and beseech you all to give up your hearts to God, give the crown and diadem to him; let him be your Lord, and lawgiver, and king, and he will save you; he will be a sun and a shield unto you, he will supply you with all good, and defend you from all evil; you shall have refreshment from the presence of the Lord this day, if you appear before him in a holy and humble frame and disposition, which is acceptable to him. The Lord will overshadow you with the wing of his love, and he will fill the hungry with good things, and the rich he will send empty away. The Lord is this day breaking the bread of life, and will give it to those that come with a spiritual appetite: and here is a spring opened of living waters, for refreshing of thirsty souls that cannot be satisfied without the Lord Jesus Christ, and that can have no true content, joy or pleasure, without the enjoyment of God. This bath been the stay of our minds when we have been in great tribulation, when the floods of many waters have been ready to overwhelm us. We are a people that have had abundant experience of God’s mighty power in our preservation and deliverance, blessed be the name of the Lord, whose almighty arm hath brought salvation.
Friends, it is the desire of my soul, that you may all be Christians indeed, Israelites indeed, (like Nathaniel) in whom there is no guile: That in all your gatherings you may be gathered, not to man, not to shadows, ceremonies and observations, and perishing things, but gathered to that which is the substance of all; I would not have you gathered to a notion of my experience, or others’ experiences; but I would draw your minds from all visible things, that you may be gathered to the Lord, and his appearance in you; and then you shall have bread in your own houses, and water in your own cisterns, according to that ancient prophecy which is fulfilled in these latter days, that you may have something to rely upon, the all-sufficiency of God, who hath promised to satisfy the hungry and satiate the thirsty soul; ‘Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled:’ It is the full soul that loathes the honeycomb. Those that are over-charged with the world, and the things of the world, they are of an ill constitution; they are so filled with the world, that they cannot hunger and thirst after righteousness. The Lord fills the hungry with good things, but they that are rich and full, and think they want nothing, he sends empty away.
Martha was too intent upon the world, she was too solicitous and over-careful, and cumbered about many things; she was very busy in making provision for entertaining the Lord Jesus Christ, and was troubled that Mary her sister did not come and help her, and complains of her to our Saviour, who was pleased with Mary’s heavenly-mindedness, for she sat at Jesus’s feet, and heard him preach the everlasting gospel, wanting his bread more than he wanted hers. Luke 10: 40. When Martha was cumbered about much serving, and said to Christ, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me: and Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’ Martha was concerned chiefly for the outward entertainment of Christ, which in itself was well, and a testimony of love to the despised Messiah; but she looked too much outward, and was over-careful, and too little regarded his inward fulness; but Mary looked inward, to be filled and satisfied from him, to receive of his fulness, even grace for grace, from the living fountain of it. Friends, I would have you, with Mary, to choose the better part, that you may be filled with divine consolations. This is that which the Lord hath opened to you this day: Receive this blessed treasure that will enrich you, and fill and satisfy you, and empty you of all that is contrary to itself, viz. the inordinate love of earthly and perishing things. This will beautify and adorn you with that which will render you amiable in the sight of God: For the King’s Daughter is all glorious within. I wonder that there are so many that are all for trimming and adorning the outside, when (the King’s Daughter) all those that are called of God, and sanctified by his Spirit, are glorious within; these will open the door of their hearts to Christ, who is the King of glory. Now that they may be espoused and married to Christ, they must have this heavenly adorning from the blessed Spirit of God, who will beautify them with faith and love, holiness, patience, meekness, humility, and all other heavenly graces, which will make them all glorious within. Open the door of your hearts to Christ, the King of glory, who hath long waited and called upon you to open to him, till bis head hath been filled with dew, and his locks with the drops of the night. If you open the door of your hearts to him, he will come in and sup with you and you with him; he will beautify and adorn you, and impress his divine image upon you, and take away every spot and wrinkle, that you may appear amiable to him. Those that are true disciples of Christ, will take up his cross and follow him, and learn of him to be meek and lowly, then they shall find rest to their souls, and know by experience that his yoke is easy and his burden light. Receive the truth therefore, in the love of it, and walk in it, and you will be kept out of all that is evil, and the blessing of the God of heaven will rest upon you, and ‘ the Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.’ Therefore wait upon the Lord with singleness and uprightness of heart, and desire in all your meetings to meet with God, and you shall feed upon the bread of life, and drink of the cup of blessing, and the Lord will minister and dispense to every one of you according to your necessities.
The Lord propounds and offers to our minds nothing below himself, we must choose him alone for our portion, and we shall receive from his hands, that which is satisfying. ‘One thing (saith the Psalmist, Psal. xxvii. 4.) have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and inquire in his temple: For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his Pavilion, in the secret of his tabernacle he shall hide me, and he shall set me upon a rock.’ Where is there a better dwelling to abide in, and take up your rest, than where God would have you dwell? God himself will be your dwelling place in all generations, and be all in all to you.
Come away, O you weary and heavy laden, to Christ, and he will give rest to your souls. Make that blessed choice that Mary did; choose that ‘good part which shall not be taken from you;’ you shall increase with the increases of God, and grow up as salves of the stall. Let your living cries ascend to the living God, who heareth the cry of the humble, and of those that are sensible of their low estate; and with strong cries and supplications desire to be made more alive unto God; let the desire of your souls be to him, and to the remembrance of his name. Let no Delilah, no darling sin, lodge in your bosoms to draw away your hearts, and the prime and flower of your affections from Christ, who is the most worthy and supreme object of your love, and altogether lovely, and the chiefest of ten thousands. Let nothing obstruct the vigorous motion of your souls after him. When he draws you with the cords of his love, do you run after him; and let your affections be set on him, and fixed on him, and he will fill you with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
My Friends, see that ye be a willing people, and a living people, God is not straitened towards us, let not us be straitened in our own bowels, and we shall feel his almighty arm supporting of us, and his bountiful hand communicating and reaching out good things to us; we shall have refreshment from the presence of the Lord, and know that he is in the midst of us. He will ‘justify us freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ; whom God hath set forth 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; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.’
My Friends, if we set out affections on things above, and seek first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, all other things shall be added to us; for godliness is profitable to all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Blessed are they that can witness and experience a work of God upon their souls, changing them and renewing them, in the spirit of their minds, and conforming them to the divine image and will, and putting his fear into their hearts, that thou may never depart from Him. ‘The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them, that fear Him, and delivers them;’ O taste and see that the Lord is good! blessed is the man that trusteth in Him! the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ear is open to their cry; He will give them whatsoever they want, and deny them nothing that is good for them. If they want faith, patience, courage, humility, self-denial, or any other grace of the spirit, he will give it to them; if they want victory over temptation, and strength to subdue corruption, or to bear tribulation, or persecution, or reproach, for the name of Christ, the Lord will answer the desire of their souls. O the besetments, and snares, and stratagems of the devil, the grand enemy of our souls! we are attacked and assaulted on all hands, let us not be discouraged, but travel on in the undented way, that will bring us to an undefined, an eternal rest. Let us forsake sin, and the vanities of the world, and go up to the house of the Lord, the place where His Honour dwells; let us encourage one another, and provoke one another to love and good works, and walk in the way of holiness, having our loins girt; let us so run, that we may obtain; and remember that while we are working out our own salvation with fear and trembling, God will work in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure. Let us be so far from depending upon ourselves, as entirely to depend upon the Lord, who will not be wanting to us, but a present help in trouble. Wait upon the Lord, and improve that measure of light, and grace bestowed upon thee, and thou shalt grow as a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth fruit in season; then thy leaf shall not wither, and whatsoever thou dost shall prosper. The dew of heaven shall be upon thy root, and thou shalt grow and flourish in the courts of the Lord. Exercise self-denial, and take up the cross of Christ, (for no cross, no crown,) follow Christ the Captain of our salvation, who was made perfect through sufferings. Be not ashamed of the cross of Christ, but glory in it, as the Apostle Paul did, who said he would glory in nothing else; labour to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and to abound in all the fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, gentleness, faith, meekness and temperance; this is to be a christian indeed, and a true Jew or Israelite; for he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh, but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men but of God. Friends, think not that a superficial and outside religion will serve you, but you must show forth the virtues of Christ, and the power of godliness; then everlasting joy will be your portion. O my Friends, come into the Light, and walk in it as children of Light, and persevere to the end, and you shall come at last to partake of the inheritance among the saints in Light, and eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life which grows in the midst of the paradise of God. Man was cast out of paradise because of transgression, how shall he come back again, and be restored to a state of felicity? the Lord hath provided a Light and a Leader, the Lord Jesus Christ; blessed are they that follow Him, for he will lead in the way everlasting. Blessed are they which are reconciled to God, and justified by faith, and have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ; they know peace and assurance and satisfaction in themselves, for the work of righteousness is peace, and the fruit of righteousness, quietness, and assurance for ever. Now that you may come to this full assurance, you must first know righteousness, and come to Christ for it, who is a righteous teacher, who will guide and lead you in the way of righteousness, and holiness, out of your wilderness state wherein you have wandered from the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Here is something to enter our hopes upon, here is a firm bottom to stay upon. I reckon, (saith the Apostle,) that I was once alive without the law, but I am now alive through the quickening power of the Son of God, who is the resurrection and the life. This is empirical religion, which is pure and undefiled, to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. This is a godly religion, that takes the spots out of a man’s garment, and out of his heart, and that is a furnace to refine us, and purge away our dross; that is as fullers soap, to wash out all our spots. If our spots are taken away, this will restore our hearts to God, and render them fit to be his living temples. Receive Christ into your hearts, and he will purge away your dross and reprobate silver, and make you more pure than the gold of Ophir. They that live the life they live here by the faith of the Son of God, they live a pure and heavenly life; the men of this world live none of this life: they seem to receive Christ outwardly, but they reject him inwardly. The Jews were cut off, because they would not receive Christ outwardly; then the axe was laid to the root of the tree, and they were cut down as trees that cumber the ground, and became a desolate people for their disobedience; and they that would not receive Christ, they died in their sins; and our compassionate Redeemer he lamented their miserable condition, and wept over them. Matt, xxiii. 37. Luke xix. 41, 42. ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! and when he came near, he beheld the city and wept over it, saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.’ Thus they rejected Christ the Eternal Son of God, and Light of the world: so those that reject the testimony of the ministers of Christ that speak to them in Christ’s name, they reject Christ himself: though Christ speaks not now to you immediately in his own person, yet he speaks to you instrumentally; and if you reject the testimony that we bring, when we preach Christ to you, you reject Christ as Jerusalem did: what was it that Jerusalem did reject ? they rejected the grace and spirit of Christ, they would not open the door of their hearts to receive and entertain Christ in the day of their visitation : what did become of them? their house was left unto them desolate. ‘I called, (saith the Lord,) but they would not answer; I offered salvation to them, but they refused; they would not in their day, know the things that belong to their peace, and now they are hidden from their eyes.
It is the desire of my soul, that none of you may hear that voice in your consciences, the things that belong to thy peace are now hidden from thine eyes; thou hast had many talents given to thee, but thou hast not improved them: this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, but thou hast loved darkness rather than light; thou hast had grace freely offered to thee, but thou hast refused it, turned from it, or turned it into wantonness.
The Lord hath given us many divine calls and visitations, and hath promised to be our God, if we would be his people; but after all his kindness to us, He justly complains, ‘ my people would none of me; 1 am the Lord thy God, (saith he to the Israel of old,) that brought thee out of the land of Egypt; open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it, enlarge thy desires, and I will satisfy them; but my people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me; so I gave up them unto their own hearts’ lust, and they walked in their own counsels. O! that my people had hearkened unto me, and walked in my ways; I would have fed them with the finest of wheat, and with honey out of the rock, should I have satisfied them.’
O, my Friends, it is a dangerous thing for a people that are enlightened by the Spirit of God, to trifle away their precious time and seasons of mercy, the day of grace and salvation; O! therefore, work while it is day, for the night cometh wherein there is no working; let us be faithful and turn our eyes to the light, and walk in tit, and live in obedience to it; God hath been present with us )my friends) in the tribulations, temptations, and afflictions that have attended us, when we have been ready to say, as David, I shall one day fall by the hands of Saul, and the enemy will prevail over us; but God hath wonderfully saved and delivered us, and hath been a shield, and buckler, and a strong tower to us, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Let nothing be found alive in us that would divert us, or draw us away from God, who alone can satisfy us, and give us the desire of our hearts. If we delight ourselves in Him, let us say unto God, ‘O Lord, thou art my portion; whom have I in Heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.’ Let us make war against every thing that is contrary to God’s holy nature and will, and abstain from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and from all appearance of evil.
Have a care that your adversary the devil, does not prevail over you, be not ignorant of his devices; he goes about continually like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
When the devil assaulted our Saviour in Peter, he said ‘ get thee behind me satan, thou savourest not the things of God.’ Examine and try yourselves, whether you have a divine taste and relish, and savour the things of the Spirit? When the devil presents and alluring or charming temptation, to seduce you from your duty to God or your neighbor, or from your great concern, the salvation of your immortal souls; you know what the temptation tends to, therefore be steadfast in the faith; resist the devil and he will fly from you; and wait upon God in the name of Christ, and look up to him, and he will open his divine hand, and shower down his blessings upon you, and give you the upper springs and the nether springs also; God will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from you.
O you young ones! I have a travel in my soul for you! remember your Creator in the days of your youth: give unto God the prime and flower of your time and strength; learn to bear the yoke betimes: come to the yoke of Christ: take his yoke upon you; though it may fret thy neck a little, and cause a little pain, yet be willing to bear it, and thou wilt find that the yoke of Christ is an easy yoke, and his burden a light burden; and that none of his Commandments are grievous. O my Friends! the pomp and pleasure and glory of this vain world prevails over many, and thousands are ensnared by it: but it is better, with Moses, to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin tor a season; and to esteem the reproach of Christ, greater riches than the treasures of the Egyptian kingdom: for if we suffer with Christ here, we shall reign with him hereafter. The sacrifices of old were salted with salt; if you come to know the divine salt, the seasonings of grace, all that is putrefied will be done away, and purged out of your hearts; all that come to Christ are seasoned with divine grace, and they will shine as lights in the world; but for those that are not in Christ, nor made new creatures, they are conformed to this world, and the world will love its own; but what will be the end of these? they must go along with those that shall take their place on the left hand of Christ, and be sentenced to everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
You that are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, that love the vanities of the world, and the pleasures and pastimes of it, the supreme and righteous judge of the world will hid you depart from him into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; wherefore you that are young, remember your Creator in your younger years; and give up your hearts to God betimes, and consider what the wise man saith after all his experience of the pleasures and enjoyments of this world, ‘vanity of vanities, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. Remember now thy Creator in the day of thy youth, while thy evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them:’ while thou art like white paper, let God write upon thee, before thou art blotted and stained with the vanities and impure pleasures of this world; set aii high value on early piety, get an interest in Christ Jesus, in your young and tender years, that as of his fulness, you have received grace for grace, you may obey it in all manner of conversation; for, without holiness no man shall ever see the Lord. Persevere in holiness to the end of your days, that you may receive the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls; O blessed are they that take Christ in all his offices, for a King, Priest, and Prophet! for a King to rule them with the sceptre of his grace, and to subdue their enemies by the might of his power; as a Priest, to make atonement for them, and reconcile them to God, and save them from sin and from the wrath to come; and as a Prophet, to instruct and teach them, and make them wise to salvation; blessed are they that receive the truth in the love of it, and love the truth as it is in Jesus; there is no condemnation to them; for they walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. While they wait upon the Lord, they renew their strength; they shall never be weary of well-doing; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. When the Lord saith to them,’ seek ye my face;’ their hearts will answer, thy face Lord will we seek. Search the scriptures to know the mind and will of God, and consult the oracle within, the word of God in your own hearts; whether shall you, or can you go? you have the words of eternal life, from Christ within you the hope of glory. You that have begun in the Spirit, do not end in the flesh; but resist all temptations from without, and corruptions within, and you shall be more than conquerors, through Christ that hath loved you; and you shall witness the fulfilling of that promise,’ him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out; and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem; and to him (saith Christ) that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am sat down with my Father in his throne, and I will give him a white stone, and a name, which none knows but he that hath it.’ As in your Parish books, there is a registering and a writing down of the names of all that are born there; so in the book of life are written down all the names of the children of light, that are born again, born from above; and God will remember them, and they will remember his loving kindness, and have it ever before their eyes, and walk in his truth.
My Friends, it becomes us to be a willing people, io bear the yoke of Christ cheerfully, and not to be like a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. ‘If any draw back (saith the Lord) my soul shall have no pleasure in him.’ Let us be willing both to do and suffer the will of God, and follow Christ the Lamb of God, whithersoever he goeth; through persecutions, sufferings, and tribulations, bearing his reproach, and counting it our honour to suffer shame and dishonour for his name; and have a holy ambition to drink of his cup, and to be baptised with his baptism. We read, (Luke xx. 20.) that the mother of Zebedee’s children came to Christ with her two sons, worshipping him and desiring a certain thing of him, and he said unto her, ‘ What wilt thou?’ She said unto him, ‘Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom: But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I drink of? And to be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with? They say unto him, We are able.’ And our Saviour said unto them, ‘Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with; but to sit on my right hand and on my left, is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them, for whom it is prepared of my Father.’ What is this baptism? It is self-denial, and taking up the cross of Christ; and to be willing to part with all for his sake: To stand at a distance from the world, and to be weaned from the enjoyments of it, and to let Christ have the command and government of our hearts, wills, and affections. My Friends, let us so live, as we shall wish we had done, when we come to die. 2 Cor. v. 10, 11, ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that which he hath done, whether it be good or bad.’ Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men: O blessed are they that turn from the evil of their ways, and so hear that their souls may live: ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice; and to hearken than the fat of rams.’ Blessed are they that ponder and weigh, and consider what the Lord’s prophets and messengers speak and declare unto them, that are found in a way of obedience, and live up to what they know, they shall at last lay down their heads in peace; ‘For blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, they rest from their labours, and their works will follow them.’
O Friends, come unto Christ that you may have life, and have it abundantly: He is the living fountain that God hath vouchsafed to open to us, even the fountain of living water, for the refreshment of thirsty souls; and the bread that comes down from heaven, for filling and satisfying the hungry soul. Blessed are they that know Christ to be their Shepherd, and hear his voice, and follow him, who will go before them as their light and leader, and give them eternal life. They shall receive from him in this life food convenient; he will make them lie down in green pastures, and lead them by the still waters, and he will prepare a table before them in the midst of their enemies, and satisfy them as with marrow and fatness, and make them triumph in his love and praise. Let us travel on in the path of life, in the ways of righteousness, without fainting, and labour to answer the great end of our creation, and the design of God’s love in our redemption, and let us live as witnesses for God in our own generation. But some may say, What do we witness? I witness to God’s judgment for my sin, and to his mercy in forgiving my sin, and to his good Spirit visiting my soul, and sanctifying me, and making me free from the law of sin and death; and I witness (may a sincere and humble soul say) a freedom and deliverance from the bondage of corruption, and power and victory over the world, and the flesh and the devil, the grand enemy of my salvation. O that you may all experience these great things in your own souls! Then Christ will say unto every one of you, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful in a little, I will make thee ruler over much.’ The Joy of the Lord shall enter now into thee, and thou shalt hereafter enter into the joy of thy Lord; thou shalt then behold his face in righteousness, and be eternally satisfied with his likeness: ‘In whose presence is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore.’