For CaptainJamesDavis “A Precious Love”

THE GREAT DESIGN OF CHRISTIANITY by William Penn of Pennsylvania

Admiral William Penn (1621-1670)  *oil on canvas  *127 x 101.5 cm  *1665-1666

The Truth is Timeless

THE

GREAT DESIGN

OF

CHRISTIANITY.

A Sermon preached at the Quakers’ Meeting-House, in Wheelers-Street, London, Jan. 27, 1694.

BY WILLIAM PENN.

THE great end for which God hath in all ages and generations visited the sons and daughters of men, hath been to bring them home to himself; to make man and woman sensible of that duty which they owe to God, to their neighbors and to themselves. And in order to effect this, great hath been God’s love, and manifold have been his mercies: he hath not taken man at his word, neither would he be put off at once, twice, or thrice, but repeated have been the visitations of God, and the calls of God in every age and generation of the world, according to the various administrations thereof; yea, the Lord hath waited to be good and gracious to mankind from the beginning.

And now, my Friends, we have not only the testimony of the holy records of the scriptures of truth, but we have our own experience to exalt God’s love by : we in our day, we mankind in our age and generation; we can say that God is good, we can say that God is a long suffering God, and that God is a God of patience, and that he is a God of mercy, and that he hath waited long to be gracious to us, or we had been cutoff long ago, and taken out of the land of the living. I would have all those that have not laid hold of the long suffering of God, but have made light of it, not to do so any longer, but that the long-suffering of God might lead them to repentance, and bring salvation to them; that they would lay hold of the time and blessed opportunities which God giveth them, and hearken to the voice of the Charmer, and give ear to the voice of God, and seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near to hear them, while he is near to help them, while he is near to save them. This is the experience we have bad, the Lord hath visited us and touched us, and made us sensible of his love and kindness to us, in his gathering of us; and that he hath made us nigh, that were afar off; and that those that are not convinced, may be made sensible of their sin ; and those that are convinced, may be converted; and those that are converted, may persevere to the end, and receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls, is our travail.

Let all that are really convinced of the evil of their ways and doings, of their wantonness, worldliness, malice and bitterness, strife and envyings and animosities, and those things that the light of Christ in their own consciences condemn them for; let all that lire in such a state of conviction turn from that evil they are convinced of.

But here is the sin, and misery, and ruin of many men and women, they flatter themselves into hell, with their false hopes of heaven: They hope to live eternally happy by the death of Christ, and yet they will not leave one sin for the love of Christ; so that sin and death reign over them. They that will not mortify sin, and die to sin here, must die for their sins hereafter. It is only unpardoned sin that will sink men into perdition. They that have a mournful sense of sin, and a true contrition for it, they will humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, who will exalt them in due time. They breathe forth holy desires, and lift up their hearts to God. and say,’ Lord, I am as clay in the hands of the potter, O fashion and shape me, that I may be an honourable vessel in thy house, that I may be fit to glorify thee, and shew forth thy praise:’ ‘Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, for they will be still praising thee;’ they offer praise and glorify thee here for a short time, and thou wilt glorify them to eternity. God called Abraham, the father of the faithful, out of his own land, a land of idolatry; he obeyed the voice of God,, went into a strange country and followed the Lord, not knowing whither he went: So God calls the sons and daughters of men out of their sin and transgression, that they may come to a land that flows with milk and honey; that after all their wearisome labours and travels, through the wilderness of this world, they might come to an everlasting rest, and obtain salvation for their immortal souls. They that come to be convinced of the evil of their ways, and turn from them, that bitterly bewail their sins, and lament and mourn for their transgressions, and turn to the Lord with all their hearts; it may be said concerning such, these have learned that divine arithmetic, of numbering their days, and applying their hearts to true wisdom: These are the persons that take heed to their ways, and turn their fact to God’s testimonies. They take more care, and are more concerned for their souls, than for all the perishing things of this world. Such an one will say, my soul is more worth, than ten thousand worlds: ‘What will it profit me to gain the whole world, and lose mine own soul? Or what shall I give in exchange for my soul?’ What is this world but an empty bubble, a shadow that flies away? All its glittering profits, and charming pleasures, and delusory honours, that appear great to a carnal eye, how quickly do they vanish and disappear, and afford no true satisfaction to them that admire them, and pursue after them? ‘Vanity of vanities (saith the wisest of men). Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, and vexation of spirit!’ But worldly minded men, that set their hearts upon this world, they are not for these holy reflections; but the truly convinced men and women, that are touched with a deep sense of their misery, and of their own erring and straying, and wandering from God’s holy ways, that fear to sin and provoke the Lord, and stir up the indignation of the Almighty, they love to reflect upon themselves, and to consider their ways, and turn to the Lord, and to set their faces Zionward: I say to all such persons, travel on, the Lord hath been gracious to you.

O improve your precious time! You know not how few days you have yet remaining to run your great race in. ‘To day, while it is called to day, if you will hear the voice of God, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.’ Let none of you be careless and black, but let every one of you consider your latter end, consider how far you have done the work of God and whether you have been working out your own salvation, with fear and trembling, and give all diligence to make your calling and election sure; that when you come to lay down your heads, it may be as conquerors that have fought the good fight, and overcome the enemy of your souls.

O Friends, we have a great and subtle enemy: If we be secure, and keep not our watch, he will surprise us and overcome us; but if we resist him, and fight against him, we shall overcome him, through Christ that hath loved us. ‘O wretched man that I am, (saith the Apostle) who shall deliver me? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord;’ He will deliver me from this great Goliah, that hath led me captive at his will. It is Christ that stands at the door of my heart and knocks, and bids me open to him that will be my deliverer: It is he of whom, David was a type, he will deliver me, and enable me to overcome that Goliah, that grand enemy of my soul. When the sons of Jesse came before Samuel, one of whom God had appointed him to anoint king over Israel, the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature, because I have refused him, for the Lord seeth not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart: and Jesse, made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel, and he said to Jesse, the Lord hath not chosen these: then he sent and brought David, his youngest son, a keeper of sheep, and he was anointed king.’ He was little in stature, and ruddy, and withal of beautiful countenance and complexion; yet was strong in heart, and of great courage; of a wise and heavenly mind, that lived in the fear of the Lord, and also a man after God’s own heart. When he came to fight Goliah, that monstrous giant, that defied the armies of the living God, king Saul armed young David with his own armour, and put an helmet of brass upon his head, and also put on him a coat of mail, and he girded his sword upon his armour. And David put them off him, and said to Saul, I cannot go with these, for I have not proved them. David fights Goliah after his own manner, out of the road of the mighty, and of the great ones of the earth: ‘he took only his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, and his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine: and when Goliah saw David, he despised him, for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance; then said David to the Philistine, thou comest to me with a sword and a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, whom thou hast defied; this day will the Lord deliver thee into my hand: and David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone and slang it, and smote the Philistine in the forehead, and the stone sunk into his forehead, and he fell upon his face to the earth; so David prevailed over Goliah, with a sling and a stone, and smote him, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.’ Thus he conquered that great giant, though he was little and despised. So our Lord Jesus Christ (of whom David was a type) when he came into the world, he was rejected and despised of men; but notwithstanding, there were many that beheld his glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

My Friends, it is Christ that hath conquered the devil, that Goliah and great enemy of our souls: he hath spoiled principalities and powers, and overcome death, and hell, and all the powers of darkness: we also obtain the victory and are made more than conquerors, through the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Captain of our salvation. We are a people of his setting up: it is not by strength and human wisdom, not by arts and parts, and academical acquirements; not by power and might; but by the Spirit of the Lord, that we are enabled to overcome the enemies of our salvation, sin, hell, and the grave, and to triumph in the power of God, and sing the song of Moses, and the song of the Lamb, a song of deliverance. But before we come to sing this song of Moses, there must be first a mourning state, an humbling of ourselves, and a bowing down before the Lord ; we must say with the returning prodigal, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son:’ and we may say, as the centurion, ‘Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof.’ The power of divine truth must lay us low, and sink us into a deep humility; they that come not to hear the voice of judgment, can never enjoy mercy of the Lord, nor know the working of God upon their souls effectually to salvation. Yet he will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, till judgment break forth into victory. Where judgment hath not victory, nor patience its perfect work, people will not be patient, under God’s judgment. But ‘ Zion must be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. This is promised to the citizens of Zion, and Jerusalem shall be the praise of the whole earth. Then they shall sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb, a song of deliverance and redemption. The Apostle Paul sung this song, after he was sensible of his miserable state. ‘O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death! I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death.’

All are in a condemned state out of Christ; but when once in Christ, there are new thoughts, new desires, and new will and affections. Then we shall shake; off every weight and burden, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is before us, and deny ourselves, and take up the cross of Christ, and follow him, and learn of him a holy resignation to the will of our heavenly Father; and say with him, ‘Not my will but thy will be done.’ Thus God gathered a people in the beginning, and thus he reacheth people now, and is gathering a people to this day.

Blessed are they that live and walk according to the ministration of the grace of God in their hearts, and that come, by Christ, to be made free from the law of sin and death. It is Christ alone that giveth grace and truth in the inward parts, to make us free; and that giveth us power against the enemy: And though the devil our enemy be too mighty for us, he is not too mighty for Christ, who is mighty to save, and to save to the uttermost too, all that come unto God by him. Our Lord Jesus foiled the enemy in all his assaults, and conquered him by his divine power, even then when he ‘ was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.’ The tempter knew he was hungry, he knew he wanted sustenance: ‘If thou be the Son of God, (said he, ‘command that these stones be made bread.’ But he answered and said, ‘It is written, man liveth not by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ Then he attacks him, and ‘taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written he shall give his angels charge concerning thee, lest at any time thou shouldst dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ Then again the devil assaulted him, ‘ and taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee behind me, satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’ Thus our blessed Lord overcame the devil, and vanquished him in all his assaults and temptations. ‘Then the dev.il leaveth him, and behold angels came and ministered unto him.’

This is an emblem of what Christ will do for all his followers, that open the door of their hearts to him: He will enable them to overcome the devil when he does attack them; and to conquer that enemy that hath sometimes overcome them. He will put upon them the whole armour of God, and they shall be able to stand in the evil day, having their loins girt about with truth, and having on tie breast-plate of righteousness, and having the shield of faith, wherewith they shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God ‘Pray always, with all prayer and supplication in the-Spirit, watching thereunto, with all perseverance. ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ will preserve his people under his pavilion, and cover them under the shadow of his wings, all those that make their applications to him, and obey him, and submit to him, when he reproves them for sin. If they turn from their evil ways, they shall know his power that overcometh the world, and all the powers of darkness, and obtain salvation from sin, and from the wrath to come. Take away the cause, and the effect ceaseth: Can you hope to escape the wrath of God, while sin, that is the cause, remains? This is as great a contradiction as the doctrine of transubstantiation, that a thing is, and is not, at the same time. O that people would come to be wise, and in this their day consider the things that belong to their eternal peace, before they are hid from their eyes!

God hath given Christ to be a Redeemer to us, to finish transgression, and make an end of sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness; and behold Christ stands at the door and knocks; if you open the door of your hearts and let him in, he will bind the strong man, and spoil him of his goods, and cast him out, and take possession for himself. My Friends! you that have heard the call of God, and obeyed the voice of your Maker, and known the operation of his divine hand; you that have known the work of conviction and conversion, and do persevere to the end, happy are ye. You do not know how soon God may call you. The time past is gone, only the present time is yours. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation, let none harden their hearts, now is the time wherein we are to act for eternity. Now we have time and opportunity, for the saving of our souls; we are shortly to go out of this world, and the Lord will call us to account for our time, and all the talents which he hath given to us. O that we may so live as to give up our account with joy! It is the desire of my soul that all the opportunies and seasons of grace we now enjoy, may bring us nearer to God, and bring us to a better frame of spirit; that we may acquaint ourselves with God, and be at peace. Thus saith the Lord by the prophet, ‘Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you.’ As men come to turn from their sins, and from the evil of their ways and doings, they shall come to know the mystery of God’s salvation revealed to them. ‘The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant.’ O keep yourselves from iniquity, and say when a temptation presents itself, ‘How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?’ Do not rush into sin, as a horse into battle, with a brutish violence; not considering that death is before him. Do not indulge yourselves in any sin; do not gratify your lusts, and passions, and appetites, but keep them under government. Be of a considerate heart and mind, having the fear of God before your eyes, that you may say with the Psalmist, Psal. Xvi. 8, ‘I have set the Lord always before me, he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.’ The enemy shall not move me, not hurt me, nor prevail against me; he cannot ensnare me. If I set the Lord always before me, I shall not want power and ability to resist the devil and overcome him. Those that have set the Lord before them, he will be at their right hand, and they shall know and experience his preserving arm and power in the time of affliction and distress, and losses, and crosses, and disappointments: And in time of great calamities, God will be present with his people; even in the night season, he will sweetly refresh them, with the sense of his love, and lift up the light of his countenance upon them.

‘Take therefore,’ Friends, ‘no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself, sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,’ Matt. vi. 34, whether they be moral evils, or providential evils; the evils we do, or the evils we suffer; the evils and sins we commit, or the evils that God by his providential hand inflicts upon us. Upon our repentance God will graciously pardon the one, and assist us by his grace to bear the other. God will help us by his grace and Spirit to overcome moral evils, to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. What hope is that which the apostle there mentions? (Tit. ii. 15,) It is the hope of the glory of heaven and eternal happiness: That we shall come to ‘ Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first born, who are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel.’

This world is but an inn, and we must not think to dwell here. We are travelling in the way to heaven, the undefiled way; and glory, immortality, and eternal blessedness are our mark we aim at; the recompense of reward, and the eternal inheritance. Christ the forerunner, that shall be the desire of all nations, is gone before us, and we cannot be followers of him, if we walk in pride, envy, covetousness; we must learn of him to be humble, meek. and lowly, and bow to the name and authority of Jesus; to submit to his sceptre and government. Let us walk in the way of holiness, humility, self denial, and take up the cross, and be crucified with Christ, and glory in the cross of Christ by which we are crucified to the world, and the world to us; and then we walk in the way that leads to heaven and glory; and look up to the things which are not seen, which are eternal.

Dear Friends, take heed of visible things have a care that you stumble not on things below, that are temporal; but look up to the things that are invisible and eternal, and lay up treasure above, against a stormy day. There are many that build upon a sandy foundation, and not upon Christ, the rock of ages, the chief corner stone. Such are likened by our Saviour to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. and the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. These were among the foolish virgins, they had lamps and made a profession, but a mere profession will not do. The graces of the Spirit of God, and the life of the Son of God, leads ta a life of righteousness and holiness; that is the oil of the lamp which they wanted. Blessed are they that have this oil in their lamps; they that have it not, let them make haste to buy before it be too late, when time shall be no more. And you that have it, see that your lights continue to shine before men, and thereby glorify your heavenly Father. It is the desire of every honest hearted Christian, that this light may shine and cover the nations, according to the prayer of the royal Psalmist, that ancient servant of God, ‘Lord send forth thy light arid thy truth.’ Where must this light go forth? It must shine forth of your hearts, and lives and conversations, that people may say concerning you, God is with them, of a truth. O Friends, answer the love and kindness of God, in this day of your visitation! If ever God appeareth in any age, he bath hath eminently appeared in this of ours. He called, and qualified, and sent forth to preach the everlasting gospel, a company of poor, unlearned, and illiterate men, and he hath given them power, and they have gone out in the name of the Lord; without academical education, without logic and philosophy, arts and acquired parts, and they have declared the whole counsel of God. I wish that every one may know the day of their visitation. They that will not bow to the mercy of God, shall bow to his judgments. Dost thou think, O man, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God, if thou despisest the riches of his goodness? No; God will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, that obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath. Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doth evil: of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile. But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile; for there is no respect of persons with God.

When the Pharisees sent out men to ensnare and entrap our Lord Jesus Christ, they were astonished at his doctrine, and declared to those that sent them, ‘Never man spake like this man.’ He had reached their hearts and spoken to their consciences. When our Saviour had declared himself to be the bread of life to believers, John vi. 51, many of the disciples departed from him. ‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever: and the bread that 1 will give him, is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world. Then many of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is 4 hard saying, who can bear it? As the living Father bath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me even he shall live by me. It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life. From that time many of bis disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, will ye also go away? And Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life?’ We did not want words, we wanted life. Thou hast living words, the words of eternal life dwell with thee. ‘In him is life, (saith the Apostle John) and the life is the light of men.’ And our Saviour says, Mark x. 29, ‘And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life. Peter said unto him, Behold we have left all and followed thee, what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’ I have sometimes told you, that man’s travel in this world is like Jacob’s ladder; we ought to ascend every day one step towards heaven: Every day is a step towards our latter end, and towards the grave; let then every day be a step towards God and heaven.

O you young ones! It is my heart’s desire and prayer, that you may be saved in the great day of the Lord Jesus; that you may now have an holy tenderness and brokenness of heart, and that you ‘may receive the truth in the love of it; and love ‘the truth as it is in Jesus, and serve the Lord in your generation. It is not the faith of your parents will save you, nor will their well-doing recommend you to God. You must walk in the same path of life, and take up your cross also, and follow Christ, and then God will take delight in you, and consecrate you vessels of honour in his house; and you shall declare and tell of the goodness and loving kindness of God, and of his wonderful works, to the generations that are to come after, when your parents’ beads are laid in the grave.

O you young ones! I tell you once more, it is my hearty desire and prayer to God for you, that ye may be followers of them who through faith and patience do inherit the promises; that you may receive the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

I speak to you all, that make a profession of the truth as it is in Jesus. Let all that converse with you behold your holy walking, be witnesses of your watchfulness and tenderness, and observe with what a holy fear, and awe, and reverence of God, you carry yourselves; that their consciences may witness for you and say, Well, these people are such as truly fear the Lord, and have religion not only in their mouths, but at their very hearts: These are Christians indeed, Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile. This, Friends, is the way to approve yourselves to God and men, and to your own consciences. God will then bless you in your trades and callings, and in your basket and store, when you do all you do in the name of Christ, and to the praise and glory of the eternal and ever-blessed God.

O my Friends, have a care that none out-live that tender state that God brought them into in the beginning, but let every one of you stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free: I speak both to you and your children; stand fast in this liberty: ‘If ye be circumcised, (saith the apostle,) Christ shall profit you nothing.’ So I say to you, if ye go back again to the spirit of the world, and be conformed to the world. Christ shall profit you nothing. Let none look back, as Lot’s wife did, lest they also become a standing monument of God’s judgments. O take heed of the accursed thing, the lusts of your own hearts, these enemies of your own peace, that would not that Christ should reign over you; ‘Bring them forth, (saith Christ,) and slay them before me.’

Blessed be the Lord, that hath given us the liberty that we see this day: God is pleased to renew his mercies every day, from one season and opportunity to another.

It is the most ardent desire of my soul, and I earnestly beseech the Lord, that you may all here present feel and enjoy the blessing of our great High Priest before you go. O you that know the Lord Christ Jesus to be your high priest, come and be anointed of him. The ointment that was on Aaron’s head ran down to the skirts of his garments. O bring your lamps to Christ your blessed high priest, and he will give you oil to fill them: Yea, he will sprinkle you with his blood, and bring you into the holy of holies. He is a good Shepherd, that will feed you, and bring you into green pastures; and when you are filled and satisfied with the fatness of his house, he will make you drink of the rivers of his pleasures, and bring you to the fold of eternal rest. But to the wicked he will say, ‘Depart ye cursed:’ here is no room for you in these mansions of glory. He will cast them into utter darkness.

O my Friends, let your souls bless the Lord, and all that is within you praise his holy name. Let your hearts and tongues extol and magnify him; and let your lips and lives show forth his praise; and say with the Psalmist, ‘Holiness becomes thy house, O God, for ever.’ I will adore and worship Thee in the beauties of holiness, with the lowest humility, and highest admiration: For thou are worthy of all honour, glory, praise, dominion and thanksgiving, who art God over all, blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

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THE DYING COUNSEL or THE WONDERFUL, COUNSELOR by William Penn of Pennsylvania

Cross

THE

DYING COUNSEL

or THE

WONDERFUL, COUNSELLOR.

A Sermon preached at the Quakers’ Meeting-House, in Devonshire-Howe, London, January 20, 1694.

BY WILLIAM PENN.

IT was the blessed encouragement that our Lord Jesus Christ gave to his disciples, and all his followers (when he took on him the nature of man, and was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us) and therein to all the sons and daughters of men, who should follow him through the many and great tribulations, and give up their names and hearts to him, to be witnesses of his truth, and of that holy testimony which he should communicate to them near his farewell, and a little before his being offered up, ‘Let not your hearts be troubled; ye 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 I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also; now my Friends, these mansions they are the recompences of reward that are set in the view of the righteous, and promised of God by Christ Jesus. These many mansions are the manifold rewards, diversities of rewards, that refer to the diversity of states, and conditions and persons, unto whom these many mansions do belong. As all are not of the same stature and growth, neither are all these mansions of the same degree of glory and felicity. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory; yet all these stars shine with a lustre and glory, and the least star hath a beauty and excellency in it; and so the least of these many mansions hath a marvellous light and glory in it. This refers to the state of every man and woman here below. All members are not the hand, all are not the head, but every member of the body hath its service, and will have its reward. This is that which did spring up in my soul this morning, as I sat here among you O that all here present may become the living members of Christ Jesus our blessed head, and live the life they live in the body, by the faith of the Son of God. He that made us, knows our frame; He that created us, and formed and fashioned us after his own image, and gave us power and faculties to glorify and serve him, that we may come to enjoy him for ever, he requires of no man or woman more than he hath given them power and ability to perform. It concerneth us all therefore to live in the exercise of that divine gift, and grace, and ability which our Lord Jesus Christ hath distributed and communicated to every member of his body, that we may come to shine as stars in the firmament of glory. We should do good in our several places and station?, according to our different powers and, capacities. And as every member is by the circulation of blood made useful and beneficial in the natural body, so the divine life and blood of the Son of God circulates through his whole mystical body, and reaches life to every living member. Here is no obstruction through unfaithfulness, or inordinate love of the world, or any temptation from without us, or corruption from within us. Here is a free channel, here is an open passage for life and quickening influences from Christ our glorious head, to all his members. There is in Christ (in whom the fulness of the god-head dwells bodily) a river whose streams make glad the city of God: a fountain to supply and refresh the whole generation of the righteous, that desire to be found in him, (as the Apostle speaks,) not having their own righteousness, but clothed with the robe of his righteousness, which is the garment of salvation. Therefore wait this day, my dear friends, to have your hearts filled with the love and life of the Son of God, that you may appear with joy at his tribunal, where all mankind must appear, and every one give an account of what he hath done in the body, whether it be good or evil. Let every one of you be careful to live according to what you know, and improve the talents that God hath given you, and you shall find that in keeping his commandments, there is great reward, and that God is good to Israel, to them that are of a clean heart. Had not the Lord been on our side, may Israel say; had not the Lord been on our side when men rose up against us, may we say, they had swallowed us up, and the temptations of the devil would have prevailed over us, and we had fallen long ago. It is not we that have stood firm in times of trial and trouble, but it is the Lord that hath stood by us, and made us to stand: and the love of God to his people now, is as great as ever it was: his arm is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy that it cannot hear; therefore travel on and feint not, and you shall come with joy to the end of your journey, and you shall be satisfied with the fatness of God’s house, and say with the Psalmist, ‘blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they shall be still praising thee.’ It is the faithful and sincere that shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever, and enter into his everlasting kingdom. O my friends, live as a people bowed down in the presence of the great and holy God, and walk humbly, with him: be humbled under his mighty hand, and you shall be exalted in due time.

The God of heaven hath visited your souls with his divine power and grace, and given you a refreshing sense of his love, that you may perceive and feel a daily renewing of your strength. O wail upon the Lord for his divine power to enable you to conquer the power of Satan, that you may go on conquering and to conquer, till you come to the New Jerusalem, the city of God, and land of peace and rest. Beware of idolatry! bow not down to the work of your own hands : for though you may not be guilty of gross idolatry, yet there is a secret, and more hidden idolatry, that too many are guilty of, who set their hearts and affection, on low and earthly things: this sticks but too near to many. Let the word of exhortation of the Apostle enter into your hearts; ‘little children keep yourselves from idols.’ Let this be the cry of your souls. Lord preserve and keep me this day, every day, and to the end of my days, that I may not only be convinced of the truth, but really converted to it, and walk in the truth and persevere therein to the end, that I may be saved. Remember Lot’s wife; look not back to Sodom: walk in the light as children of light, with your faces Zionward; and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. ‘Ye were sometime darkness, but now (saith the Apostle) ye are light in the Lord’ O shine as stars in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Shine in the beauties of holiness, and walk in the light of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, who was given for a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of his people Israel. He shall be the desire of all nations; the mighty Saviour, upon whom God hath laid help. Believe in him, cleave to him, and follow him. and you shall be saved, both from your sins, and from the wrath to come. ‘God is light (saith the Apostle John) in him is no darkness at all; if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we shall have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin;’ we know him to be the true Bock and the foundation of God, which standeth sure, and which will stand sure, in stormy and tempestuous times: blessed are they that build upon this foundation which God hath laid.

Blessed be God, which hath opened your eyes, and given you to see this sure foundation, which we must build all our hopes of salvation upon: and not upon any other foundation whatsoever. Not upon men’s arts, and parts, and human acquirements. O the unsearchable riches of Christ! that we may, and are only to covet and seek after; then we shall inherit substance indeed,,and may say of a truth, the Lord is good unto his people; He will satisfy them with his loving kindness, which is better than life, and surround them with his almighty arm, and be unto them as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Be not discouraged, notwithstanding the furious and impetuous assaults of your spiritual enemies; when God is pleased to arise for your help, your enemies shall be scattered. ‘In the world (saith our Saviour) ye shall have trouble, but in mo ye shall have peace; be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ Our Lord Jesus Christ conquered and triumphed over the world, and over principalities and powers, and death, and hell, and we shall overcome through him that hath loved us; his grace will be sufficient for us; let us wait for his salvation, and in order to it, wait to know, and then do his mind and will, and so redeem our time, and double our diligence, that we may improve our talents, and give up our account with joy And then if we are under doubts and fears, we may say with David, ‘ why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, for the help of his countenance.’ God is pleased to exercise his people many times with divers troubles, trials, and afflictions, to wean them from this world, and from an inordinate love to the pleasures and enjoyment of it, that their minds may not be drawn away by the things that are seen, which are temporal, from the things that are not seen, which are eternal. Let us take straight steps towards the glory that shall be revealed; that as every day we are a step nearer the grave, we may be also a step nearer to a blessed eternity. It was the voice of Moses the man of God, and that which he had in charge from heaven concerning the children of Israel, in their march towards Canaan, say unto the people, go forward ; there is a good land before you; a land flowing with milk and honey. The Lord was with them and wrought great things for them, and he hath also wrought great things for us. Let us all press therefore forward towards the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, till we come to that city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God; and that kingdom that cannot be shaken, which God hath prepared for them that love him. O that every one of you, upon a serious examination of yourselves, may find yourselves in a good state and condition towards God: travelling through the wilderness of this world, your eyes upon heaven. Let your prayers and strong cries be to the Lord for his help; for we are not sufficient of ourselves for any good word or work. It is his almighty arm and power only that can enable us to overcome our spiritual enemies, and to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; yea and to work in us, ..both to will and to do of his own good pleasure. And pray let us, with Moses, choose rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin fur a season: and turn our backs upon this world, and the glory of it; and live so, as seeing him that Is invisible. Let us follow them who, through faith and patience have inherited the promises. There are thousands of faithful witnesses gathered to their eternal rest; let us follow the foot-steps of the flock; that little flock, for which God hath prepared a kingdom. Take a prospect of heaven by the eye of faith, in the light of Christ Jesus; and behold the glory of God shining upon you in the face of Jesus Christ. Suffer not your hearts to cleave to this world, nor to any pleasure or enjoyment in it, that may be a snare and temptation to draw your minds and affections from the Giver to the gift. Live a self-denying life: keep your dominion, you that have it, over that which hath dominion over you, and then you may say, thy kingdom is come, and thy will is done, on earth as it is in heaven. Then the power of sin shall be subdued in your souls, and the body of sin, and death shall be destroyed; and as you have had cause to cry out, with the Apostle, ‘O wretched man that I am. who shall deliver me from the body of sin and death!’ so each of you will be able to rejoice, and say with him, I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord, I am made free from the law of sin and death. And my friends, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be set a top of all the mountains, then shall you rejoice and praise his holy name.

O that the nations round about might come to the saving knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, which is life eternal. O look for the appearance and manifestation of the Son of God in your hearts, then you will admire and adore the mercy, justice, holiness, goodness, patience, and long suffering of God, which will lead you to repentance, then you will cry out and say God is just, God is merciful, God is holy, and abundant in goodness and truth; He hath made us sensible of the riches of bis goodness, and of his forbearance, patience, and long-suffering: I will bless and praise his holy, great and excellent name; and say,’ whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee; in thy favour is life, and thy loving Kindness is better than life,’ and that which I esteem above all tilings on the face of the earth. O friends, be you thankful to God for the manifestation of his love and mercy to you!

Take heed of an ungrateful spirit. Trust in the Lord and he will deliver you, and wound the hairy scalp of your enemies. Many have outlived their youthful greenness, and that tenderness they had when God first awakened them to consider their ways, and to seek after him with their whole heart. ‘I remember, saith the Lord by Jeremiah, the kindness of thy youth, and the day of thy espousals.’ God will remember you, if you remember his loving kindness, and have it ever before your eyes, and walk in his truth. When there was nothing but darkness in Egypt, there was light in Goshen, ‘ we (saith the Apostle) were sometimes darkness, but now we are light in the Lord:’ Let us walk as children of the light, and hate the works of darkness.

We that are made living witnesses of the power, and wisdom, and goodness of God, let us sink down into self abasement, and humility, and we shall feel the living openings of the spirit of truth in our own hearts, and receive with meekness that ingrafted word, in which is light and life, that is able to save our souls; and submit to the authority of God therein; and the word of Christ may dwell richly in us, and become the power of God to our salvation.

‘Now the God of peace which brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great shepherd of his sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work, to do his will; working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, to whom be glory, praise, and thanksgiving, who alone is worthy, who is God over all, blessed for ever and ever.’ Amen.

Source: The Harmony of Divine Doctrines: Demonstrated in Sundry Declarations on a Variety of Subjects. Preached at the Quakers’ Meetings in London.

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TWO MADE ONE THE HAPPINESS OF MARRYING IN THE LORD

The Sure Foundation by William Penn

The Sure Foundation by William Penn (Click to enlarge)

Marriage is not a “Civil Right”. Marriage is an institution sanctioned by God for the express purpose of procreation and to advance the species in a manner (if done right) that is acceptable to God, which He gave us to also learn and experience something deeper than mere animal lust and self gratification!

TWO MADE ONE;

OR,

THE HAPPINESS OF MARRYING IN THE LORD.

A Sermon preached at the Quakers’ Meeting-House, in Devonshire-House, London, October 3, 1694, at a Wedding.

BY WILLIAM PENN.

IT becomes the sons and daughters of men to have a sense of their duty, that is incumbent on them, to the great God of heaven and earth; and the duty we owe to God, is to do all tilings to the praise and glory of his holy name. And happy were it for mankind if they were duly sensible of their duty and obligation to their sovereign Lord and Maker; and did set the Lord always before their eyes, and acknowledge him in all their ways, that he might direct their paths. It greatly concerns us to have an eye to the great obligation we lie under to him, who is our God and faithful Creator, that by his almighty power made us, and by his good providence hath preserved us, in the land of the living, to this day; to whom we are deeply indebted, both for our being and well-being.

They that have a sense hereof upon their souls and spirits, they will take heed not to offend him, for the fear of the Lord is planted in their hearts. This is true religion, the fear of God, which teaches man and woman, first to eschew evil, and then to do that which is good and acceptable in his sight.

The fear of the Lord, it is said, is a fountain of life, which preserves from the snares of death. No man that is replenished with the fear of the Lord can be destitute of divine life and comfort. Since the secrets of the Lord are with them that fear him, he will shew them his covenant. Abraham was said to be God’s friend, because he feared God, and God was his friend.

O my Friends! it is not a name to live; it is not the character of a profession; not adhering to a party, or being of such a society or church, or people; but it is the fearing of God, and keeping of is commandments, and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, and shewing forth his virtues in our conversation, that doth speak us to be real Christians. ‘He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good.’ O man, that is, mankind; the whole race of human kind. ‘God hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?’ Mic. vi. 8. Let us all take heed to walk in this way, and that will give us acceptance with God, and fit and prepare us for his holy worship. Abraham was the friend of God, because he believed and obeyed, it is not enough to make a profession of religion, and godliness and Christianity, if we be found vain in our conversation, and to love the world more than God, and to be more careful what we shall eat, and what we shall drink, and what we shall put on, and how we shall divert and please ourselves than to please God. Our hearts and affections should be set on things above, and not on things below. We should, with the apostle, not look to the things that are seen and temporal, but to the things that are not seen and eternal. They that mind temporal things will fee disappointed upon a death bed; but those that fear God, shall not only have present peace, but future and everlasting comfort. Let us all endeavour to be purifying our minds, wills and affections, that we may enter into a holy covenant with God, into a heavenly marriage and league with him. They that are joined unto the Lord are one Spirit. As we come under the teachings of God, we shall be united in our love and affections to him, and delight ourselves in the Lord, who only can give us the desires of our hearts. The world passeth away, and the lustre and glory of it, and all the visible relations and capacities we stand in. Let us then use the world as if we used it not; and let them that have wives be as if they had none, (as saith the apostle) for the fashion of this world passeth away. There is a time to live and a time to die; and as sure as we die, we must be judged. Let every one of us endeavour so to live, that we may give up our account with joy, and not with grief. Let the fear of the Lord possess your hearts, which is the beginning of wisdom. When men and women do that which is pleasing to God, and live in the fear of God, and eschew evil, and do good, they, in so doing, promote their chiefest interest. The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear him: his salvation is nigh unto them that in truth call upon his name. We see God’s visible care over all the works of his hands. Here in this world, his goodness is extended to all, both good and bad; he is kind to the unthankful; he causeth the sun to rise on the evil, and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust; but in the other world there is no shining of the Sun of righteousness upon the wicked and ungodly; no comforts of the Holy Ghost, no manifestations of love vouchsafed to them; but there is a revelation of wrath, and the fiery indignation of the Almighty.

For the very prayers of the wicked are an abomination, and because they love the world more than God, and esteem it more than heaven, they shall never enter into it.

But, my Friends, seek ye the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, in the first place, and follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Those persons that so do, have a solid foundation, they have a sure bottom that they can stand upon; they can look death and eternity in the face, upon this bottom, when they believe in the Lord Jesus with all their hearts, and shew forth all his virtues in their lives; having the promises assured to them, 1 Cor. 7. 1. ‘That God will dwell with them, and walk in them, and be their God, and they shall be his people. And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.’ Having therefore these promises, (saith the Apostle) ‘ let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.’ Now unto such, To live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ They live in holiness and purity, through the sanctification of the spirit, and belief of the truth, as it is in Jesus, being regenerated and born again, and thereby made meet to enter into the kingdom of God. It was sin that first brought down man, from glory to shame; Christ came down from heaven and glory, that he might bring man out of sin and shame to glory again; which by sin he had lost and forfeited. Our Saviour said unto Nicodemus, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water, and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again; the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth, so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, how can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?’ art thou a judge, and a law-giver, and not skilled in the doctrine of regeneration? man being fallen from God, there is no coming to God again without Christ, and without coming from that which separated him from the Lord.

God made all good, and man made all bad. Christ came into the world to make all good again.’ Christ died for all; but they only have the benefit of his death to salvation, that die to their sins. For sin will still live against them, for all Christ’s death, that live in sin and not in Christ. Friends, I desire that you may all come to a sense of your spiritual condition: the Lord is pleased to follow us with his mercies, and with many spiritual favours, and blessings: God is the fountain of all good, from whence comes every good and perfect gift; with whom is no variableness, nor shadow of turning; whom to know is life eternal: let us live suitably, be sensible of his mercies, and be fixed in our obedience ; for it is the obedient that eat the good of the land. Before the deluge came upon the old world, God sent his Spirit, to strive with them, to bring them to repentance. And this is our testimony, 1 John i. 2. 3. ‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life; that which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us ; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.’ This is a time wherein we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, and to give all diligence to make our calling and election sure. We have now a call to repentance, and if we faithfully answer that call, we need not fear a call to judgment; but we may, each of us say, with the Apostle, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there ts laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.’

Every one that cometh to God’s holy Spirit, to be led by it, He will lead them into all truth: if the Spirit of Christ dwell not in you, ye are none of ‘his. If we have the spirit of meekness, patience, humility, charity, and kindness, by these virtues and qualifications of Christ’s working in us, we are brought into a near relation to Christ, who is the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. He is by nature the Son of God, and by participation of his nature, and adoption, we become God’s children too; and by the operation of the Holy Ghost, they that are born of the Spirit and partake of the fruits of the Spirit, have clear evidence of their being children of God. Gal. v. 22, 23. ‘Now the fruit of the Spirit, is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.’ If these things abound in you, you are free from the condemnation of the law. There are a people that bolster up themselves, and buoy up themselves, in not being under the law, but under grace ; but they are not yet come to the poor prodigal’s state, ‘ Father I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son:’ nor yet to the state and condition of the penitent Publican, who prayed ‘ God be merciful to him a sinner;’ nor to Paul’s state, when he cried out, ‘O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me r” this shall be for a lamentation, that too many are so little troubled, and concerned, for the loss of God’s favour, and of their own immortal souls; when the whole world is not so much worth as one soul. ‘What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ O how many do hazard their precious souls for the trifles of this vain world? let us all consider we must come to the bar of Christ the great judge of all the earth ; and if we be not found in him, not having our own righteousness, as the Apostle tells us; we shall be undone forever, and we shall see too late what we have lost: and like profane Esau, (we shall be rejected,) when he would have inherited the blessing he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. There is nothing will remain then, but chains of darkness, they that loved darkness, here, shall he cast into utter darkness hereafter, even the blackness of darkness for ever.

Wherefore let all that believe in the light of the Lord Jesus, walk in it, and know and embrace the day of their visitation. You that know your Master’s will, be sure to do it, and he will say unto you, ‘well done :’ you shall hear that joyful sound, ‘enter into the joy of your Lord.’ God hath vouchsafed a merciful visitation, a day of grace and salvation, to the sons and daughters of men: He hath brought us from a gloomy night, and the dark clouds of ignorance and superstition, that our forefathers were involved in, and the day-spring from on high hath visited us: we have had the inshinings of divine light: yea, God hath brought us out of darkness into his marvelous light: let us walk as children of light, in the light of the Lamb of God. We live in the last days, wherein that promise shall been fulfilled, ‘That the Mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted upon the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it 5 and many people shall go and say, come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ Pray consider what God speaks to the Jews, that were his chosen people, and what he says concerning his own institutions, when they were formal and hypocritical in the use of them: Isa. i. 12. 13. ‘To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me, bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination to me, &c. Your new moons, and your appointed feasts, my soul hateth; they are a trouble to me, I am weary to bear them: wash ye, make ye clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do well, &c. Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool;’ God is no respecter of persons. My Friends, let us not be outward but also inward christians, in all our solemn meetings, and approve our hearts to God, and worship him in spirit and in truth. Let us consider that God is present in the midst of us.

All nations do acknowledge that God is omnipresent; the royal Psalmist thus addresses himself to God, Psal. cxxxix. 7, 8. ‘Whither shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? if I ascend up into heaven, thou art there, if I make my bed in hell; behold thou art there; if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.’ And the prophet Amos, tells us,’ it is God that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought; that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, the Lord of hosts is his name.’ O bow should we live and walk as in the presence of God! and set the Lord always before us, who is the supreme judge of the world; to whom we must be accountable for all our thoughts, words and actions. But how do the most of men live as without God in the world, live in a contradiction to their own rational natures ? God hath made men reasonable, and his judgment shall be most righteous and reasonable. The Lord hath given unto us his light and grace, if we do not improve it, and live answerably to it, we shall go down into perdition: therefore to day, while it is called to day, let us perform our duty to God, and one another, that it may go well with us for ever.

These things are of great importance which belong to our everlasting peace: these are not chimeras and enthusiastical fancies, but the great realities of religion. God hath been pleased in his admirable love and condescending goodness, to twist his glory and our felicity together, and to require nothing of us, but what is for our own interest and good: He is infinitely blessed in himself, and perfectly happy without us, but we cannot be happy a moment without him; yet we despise the riches of his goodness, that is extended to us: and like a foolish people and unwise, we are ready to frustrate the design of his mercy and kindness, and to receive the grace of God in vain.

Let this opportunity now before us, be carefully improved, in order to our spiritual benefit and advantage. Let our superlative love be set on the Lord Jesus Christ, who should be our husband and head. Let us love him with fervent and inflamed affections, as becomes the living members of his mystical body ; as those that are really united to him, and receive vital influences from him. We are now present at the solemnity of a marriage, which is a thing of itself joyous: but O let not our joy be carnal, but spiritual: let us rejoice in Christ Jesus, who for our sakes became a man of sorrows, that we might partake of that joy that is unspeakable and eternal. We may all live a happy and blesssed life, if we will live to his glory that is the giver of it, and set our affections on things above, and live in a deep and daily sense of our duty, to him that made us, and will make us happy for ever, if we be not wanting to ourselves. When the Lord-God first created man, he said, • It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him a help meet for him:’ and he caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and took one of his ribs, whereof he made the woman; and brought her unto the man, and Adam said, ‘this is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.’ Thus you see in the first creation; God made man and woman in one, he then joined them both in one person; then of one. he made them two; and after made them one again : b Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.’ Gen, ii. 24. It is of very great importance to men and women, to dispose of themselves rightly in marriage: for it is for term of life; and it is that which makes people either easy or uncomfortable in their lives : therefore they must take care to be equally yoked, that they are one in judgment, and in affection. And when they change their condition, to marry in the Lord, that they may be meet helps and blessings one to another. God bath made us sensible of that delight and joy that is proper, both to the Outward and inward man, which makes us thirst after the happiness of our souls. This the saints in all ages have borne their testimony to; David who was a mighty hero, and king, a man after God’s own heart; he declares to us the temper and disposition of carnal men; they cry out, ‘Who will shew us any good?’ but this is the language and longing of the saints, ‘Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us,’ Psal. iv. 6. That will make our hearts more glad, than those that have their corn and wine increased. The refreshing light of God’s countenance, and the sense of his love, is that which in all ages, hath been the consolation of the righteous, ever since the beginning of the world; and will be to the end fl it. So my Friends) we lay great stress and weight upon this, that married persons do not enter into that relation with a mere natural affection, or for worldly interest, or advantage: or to gratify a carnal fancy; but we must be in the exercise of a divine and heavenly affection; making the law of God our rule, and his glory our aim and end; remembering that we are none of our own, but are bought with a price: therefore we ought to glorify God, both in our bodies and in our spirits, which are His.

It becometh us to live as strangers and pilgrims on the earth; for we are but tenants at will of the great Lord; let us pass therefore the short time of our sojourning here in fear. The time past, is irrevocable; the time to come, is uncertain; and only the time present, we can call our own. Let us then improve it, while we have it; and in all our solemn meetings, let us have an awful sense of God upon us and love him, and live unto him; for we are entirely at his disposal. You that are strangers, and present in this meeting, may observe the order and method among us, with respect to nuptial solemnities. It concerns us to vindicate ourselves from those aspersions that have been unjustly cast upon us. We have no clandestine proceedings in any of our marriages, though we have been misrepresented to the world; we do observe that order and method which is set down in the holy scriptures, which are our warrant and direction. We have divers instances in scripture concerning marriages, that of Boaz and Ruth is a very eminent one; he solemnly took Ruth to be his wife, as in the presence of the Lord, and before the congregation, even all the people and the elders, and Boaz said unto them, ye are witnesses this day. And all the people that were in the gate and the elders said, we are witnesses, the Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel, and do thou worthily in Ephrata, and be famous in Bethlehem, so Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife.

Thus let us proceed in all our marriages, as in the presence of the Lord; which none can do. but those that have an awful sense of the divine presence, which is graciously vouchsafed to his people in all their humble and solemn approaches to him; then He will meet them, and bless them.

I shall commit you to the Lord, and to the grace of God that is given to you; for we are not a people so stingy, as not to awn the grace communicated to others, as if we engrossed and arrogated all to ourselves; we declare, with the Apostle, that’ there is a measure of the Spirit given to every man to profit withal.’ We are all intrusted with some talents, let us remember we must give an account of them. When we are convinced of sin, let us depart from it, and live in the delightful exercise of a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men. Then we shall find there is hope for us in death, and fruition of happiness after death. It will be said unto us, ‘well done good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of your Lord.’

My Friends, consider now that Christ is universally offered to all the sons and daughters of men, and his love is, and is to be, extended to all the habitable parts of the earth. The Sun of righteousness will shine upon them, with healing under his wings; but this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. He that hath given us the knowledge of our duty if we seek it, will also give us strength to perform it, and work in us to will and to do, of his own good pleasure. So that though of ourselves, as of ourselves, we can do nothing, we may say with the Apostle Paul, ‘We can do all things through Christ that strengthens us.’ Let us therefore labour abundantly in the work of the Lord, and then our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord; ‘For if we be faithful to death, we shall receive the crown of life.’

Source: The Harmony of Divine Doctrines: Demonstrated in Sundry Declarations on a Variety of Subjects Preached at the Quaker’s Meetings at London by William Penn [Founder of Pennsylvania] and Others by A Lover of that People

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THE PROMISE OF GOD FOR THE LATTER DAYS by William Penn of Pennsylvania

William Penn concerning the Good News (Click to enlarge)

William Penn concerning the Good News (Click to enlarge)

“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

THE

PROMISE OF GOD

FOR

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.’

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THE SURE FOUNDATION by William Penn of Pennsylvania

The Sure Foundation by William Penn

The Sure Foundation by William Penn (Click to enlarge)

[Editor’s note: I am adding these sermons by William Penn, not only for the historical context, but also, because they could very well have been preached by the ministers I have listened to all my life, same spirit, same messages. Truth is truth. no matter what time in history we live.]

THE

SURE FOUNDATION:

A sermon preached at the Quakers’ Meeting:-House in Grace-Church Street, London, Oct. 10, 1694.

BY WILLIAM PENN, WITH HIS EXCELLENT PRAYER.

THE foundation of God standeth sure; and they that build sure, must build upon it. This hath been God’s great love to us, in this day, age and generation, that he has laid for us this sure foundation, that which in all ages the people of God have been built upon, and have been preserved in all the storms and tempests that have been raised, both from within and without. They who are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, are built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles, ‘Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;’ in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord, Ephes. 2:20.

Friends, I exhort you in the name and power of the living God, mind this foundation, upon it do you build all your hopes of salvation. The living power and truth of the living God, is that which visited us in the beginning, and gathered us out of that which is evil, into that which is holy, pure and precious: blessed are you that feel, and experimentally know this visitation of the Lord, within you, from day to day, and from one season to another: this is that wherein stands your refreshment, your consolation, your succour and relief in all the times of temptation wherein the enemy of souls goes about, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’ This subtle enemy is always waiting how he may break into God’s vineyard, and lay waste and spoil the heritage of the Lord; but by his divine Light and Spirit, and the Word of his Grace, they shall be preserved. This is the word which you read of in Rom. 10:8 and mentioned by Moses, Deut. 30:14. ‘The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart:’ that is, the word of faith which we preach, that is that word of God by which you and all God’s people have been preserved in all ages and generations. Here is the foundation of peace and love, of purity and holiness; they that come to build on this foundation, they see it to be a sure foundation, by the brightness of Christ’s appearance, by the manifestation of the son of God. For ‘God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.’ This is the foundation; in building upon which, our souls can find peace and satisfaction. This is revealed and made known by the sovereign almighty arm, and power and wisdom of the Eternal God. This is that which I would leave among you; build upon the right foundation, even upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the blessed Son of God. God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh; that you may all come to be justified freely; by his grace, and led by the spirit of God as the children of God: that you may walk in the spirit, and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, for ‘if ye live after the flesh (says the apostle) ye shall die; but if you through the spirit mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live’ Rom. 8:13. The spirit of God is a spirit of purity, holiness, righteousness and self-denial; that will lead you through the straight gate, and in the narrow way, that leads to life.

Friends, this is the work that God hath called you to, even to build upon the right foundation; this is the day of God’s love, the day of his power, wherein you are to be a willing people that this work may be carried on in your hearts, the knowledge you have in religion, it must be experimental; for historical knowledge only, will not do; for that is a knowledge of the concern of others, and not our own. Let us highly prize and value the saving knowledge of God, and Jesus Christ, which is life eternal: let us look unto Christ within us, who is the light that discovers the works of darkness, and leads us out of them. Know God’s foundation, and build well upon it, not hay and stubble, which will be consumed by fire. I beseech you, in the name of the everlasting God, build upon the true foundation, Christ within you, the hope of glory, which is a mystery hid from ages and generations. Our Lord Jesus Christ said to his disciples a little before his departure; ‘If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.’ It is he, that dwelt in the hearts of the primitive Christians of old, and it is he, that dwells in his people now; he can open in our hearts a living fountain, a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. The Lord Jesus Christ is the great physician, that can cure all our spiritual maladies, and he is willing and ready to help us: come under his teaching, and guidance, and he will show you the path of life, and lead you in the way everlasting. Behold, he stands at the door and knocks; do you open your hearts to him, and he will come in, and sup with you, and you with him. He is calling you to repentance, to turn from sin, and come to Him that you may have life; he will lay judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and bring down the man of sin in us, and raise us up to the love of God, and faith in God; that we may deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts , and everything that is contrary to the mind of God, that so we may love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our soul. And if we love God with all our minds, we must not give our minds to anything else; and if we love God with all our might and strength, we must love nothing but in subordination to him: we must love all things in God, and love God above all things, then we shall come truly to know that the Lord is our God. Matt. 7:24. Our Saviour speaking of building upon the right foundation, ‘Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doth them; I will liken him to a wise man that built his house upon a Rock, (and this Rock is Christ himself,) and the rains decended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon the House, and it fell not; for it was founded on a rock.’ Such an one, that heareth Christ’s sayings, and doth them, he builds upon Christ the Rock of our salvation: upon this foundation did the holy patriarchs build; and upon this Rock and Foundation did the holy prophets build.

God told Elijah, 1 King 19:18. ‘Yet have I left seven thousand in Israel, that have not bowed unto Baal.’ Have a care of idolatry, of spiritual idolatry of loving any sin or lust: let Christ have your hearts, and the strength and flower of your love and affections, and build upon him alone who is the true foundation. Do not content yourselves with an external possession; labour to come and experience the work of regeneration, that you may know you are born again, born of the spirit, and are passed from death to life, and live in obedience to the commands of Christ, for he is the Author of eternal salvation, to all them that obey him. Have you known the terrors of the Lord? ask yourselves, am I so terrified, as to be persuaded to turn from that which would turn me from God? am I turned from that; which would eclipse God’s light in my soul? If thou art turned from sin to righteousness, thou art not a canter, thou art not an enthusiast; thou art a true child of God; and a work of regeneration is not only begun in thy soul, but thou art going on to perfection, and thou hast laid the foundation of repentance from dead works, and repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, our great mediator and redeemer, who is the way, the truth and the life: and if thou be faithful to death, he will give thee the crown of life.

Let us take heed to ourselves, and watch against the enemy of our souls, that he may not seduce us and bewilder us, and make us wander and lose our way, while we are travelling through the wilderness of this world, toward the heavenly Canaan. The same almighty arm, that brought us out of Egypt, will conduct us through the wilderness, and bring us safe to Canaan: our heavenly Joshua, the Lord Jesus Christ, will be our captain and leader, and after all our labours and dangers and conflicts with potent enemies in our way, he will bring us to the good land, to that kingdom that cannot be shaken; that inheritance, that is incorruptible, and undefiled, and fadeth not away: then we shall know our lot, and sing praises, living praises, with joy in our hearts, and harps in our hands, and worship Him that liveth forever and ever, saying, ‘blessing, honour, and glory, and power, to him, that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever! worthy is the Lamb, that was slain, to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honour, glory, and blessing; who hath redeemed us to God by his blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;’ and hath made us to our God kings and priests.— We must now believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, with a faith that worketh by love; we cannot be saved by a dead faith, but by a living faith : and as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. If we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved from sin, and from the wrath to come: ‘unless you believe in me (said our Saviour to the Jews) ye shall die in your sins.’ They that live in their sins, will die in them: blessed are they that mortify their sins, and that die to sin, that they may die in the Lord, and live forever with the Lord! happy are they, that are found in Christ (in a dying hour) not having their own righteousness, they shall be accepted of God; not for any righteousness of their own, but for the righteousness of Christ, who hath all righteousness to justify us, and will by his spirit work righteousness in us, and will be sanctification to us, ‘ he that knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him ;’ and the apostle tells us, that Christ is made to us of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption: O glory, and honour, and eternal renown, be to our Lord Jesus Christ, who is all in all to us!

O friends, you that are an humble people, that mourn for sin, that are merciful, meek, and lowly, and poor in spirit, and pure in heart; our Lord Jesus Christ in his sermon on the mount hath pronounced a blessing on you: ‘blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven: blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted: blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth: blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy: blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ Matt. 5. O friends, you that have tasted, that the Lord is gracious, come unto Christ, as the true and sure Foundation : come unto him, as a Living Stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious; you also as lively stones, shall be built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ: unto you (saith the apostle) that believe, Christ is precious. Wherefore it is written, Isa. 28:16. ‘Thus saith the Lord God, behold I lay in Zion for a Foundation Stone, a tried Stone, a precious Corner Stone, a sure Foundation.’ He that believeth, shall not make haste: trust in this sure Foundation, you know that it hath never failed you. O lay not a new foundation, depart not from this sure Foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ; but say unto him, as Peter, when many disciples went back, and walked no more with him ; ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.’ Thus, by believing in Christ, and building upon this sure Foundation, you will bring honour and glory to his blessed name, and obtain salvation for your immortal souls.

Blessed is he that overcometh,(not he that is overcome,) he that overcometh, shall inherit all things. Blessed is he that overcometh the world, that overcomes the devil, and that overcometh sin, that overcomethh is lusts, his concupiscence, and all ungodliness and unrighteousness. Rev. 2:7. ‘To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.’ It is the desire of my soul, that you may overcome, and be more than conquerors, through Christ, that hath loved you and washed you from your sins, in his own blood: and that you persevere, and continue in well doing to the end of your days, and then lay down your heads in peace, and enter into an everlasting rest, where there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain, nor mourning; but God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes. And you that have been mourners in Zion, shall sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty! just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints ; who shall not fear thee and glorify thy name, for thou only art holy!’

Thus, my friends, you will bless the Lord forever, that hath visited your souls, when you come to obtain, through our Lord Jesus Christ, salvation and eternal glory; and join in the innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, in celebrating the praises of his great and excellent name: who alone is worthy; who is God over all, blessed for ever more! Amen.

HIS PRAYER AFTER SERMON.

MOST Blessed, Glorious, Eternal and Incomprehensible Lord God, we desire to worship, and humbly adore thy excellent Majesty, whose gracious and favourable presence is with all thine, that wait upon thee, and desire to serve thee in the beauties of holiness. Thou hast mercifully made known thyself in this day of thy power and love, to a willing people, that delight to worship thee in spirit and in truth; the desire of whose souls is to thee only, and to the remembrance of thy name, that hunger and thirst, and look, and long for thy appearance.-— Blessed God, thou hast appeared, and thy appearance is glorious: Thou hast wonderfully appeared in the beams of gospel-light and grace, and caused not only the blessed gospel to dawn upon us, but thou hast been pleased to make thy glory to shine upon us, in the face of Jesus Christ, the dear Son of thy love; and by the mighty and powerful working of thy Holy Spirit, thou hast enlightened us with the saving knowledge of thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent, which is Life Eternal. The desire of our souls is after thee, more than after all things besides thee: Lord thou hast raised these living desires in our souls, and fervent breathings after thee, the living God. It is the most sincere and earnest desire of our souls to draw nigh to thee, that thou mayest draw nigh to us, and bless us; and that our services may be accepted, and well pleasing to thee through Jesus Christ. Lord, be graciously pleased to bow down thy people by thy mighty power, to a holy submission and resignation to thy heavenly will; and lift up the light of thy countenance upon all those, that breathe after communion with thee, that are thy peculiar people, and whom thou has set apart for thyself, and whom thou hast raised up to be monuments of thy mercy, and instruments of thy praise. There are many here present can say, that thou hast been very good unto them; thou hast caused joy to spring up in their souls in all the sorrows and troubles that have attended them. O how liberally hast thou distributed of thy light and love! thou hast opened a living fountain, and with living streams thou hast consolated and refreshed their souls, under their many trials and temptations. O God of my life, I beseech thee, bless all thy people, all that have believed in thy dear Son, Jesus Christ; draw nigh to all those that desire to come into the fellowship of thy truth; open thy hand, and dispense thy mercies liberally to us, that every one of us may know, that we receive from thy infinite fullness, and have all our supplies from thee. Let us be abundantly satisfied with thy loving kindness, which is better than life; and fed with the hidden manna; and eat of the bread that came down from Heaven, that whosoever eats of it shall never die, but live forever. Let thy mighty arm and power, O Lord, be revealed, and thy love shed abroad upon our hearts! preserve us and all thy people in the hollow of thy hand, and under thy Pavilion, from the fury and rage of the enemy, and from the strife of tongues. Compass us about with thy favour, as with a shield, and surround us with thine everlasting arms, that the enemy of our souls nay not approach us. O Lord, frustrate the designs of that adversary, that like a roaring lion goes about continually seeking whom he may devour. Lord hear all those that cry to thee in the depth of their distresses and afflictions, and help, and succour, and comfort, and support them, and deliver them in the needful time: show them the path of life; keep them from every evil way, and lead them in the way everlasting; and let them walk therein, and not be weary and faint in their minds; looking up to Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith; who for the joy, that was set before him, endured the cross, and despised the shame; who is a merciful high priest, that cannot but be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; that was tempted as we are, that he might succour those that are tempted. Let us follow the Captain of our salvation, who was made perfect through sufferings, having the kingdom of grace in our hearts, and kingdom of glory in our eyes; and by a patient continuance in well doing, seek after glory and honour, immortality and eternal life. Let thy kingdom come in power, and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven! we pray thee, sanctify all such opportunities, as these, unto thy people, and teach them to profit, and so to hear, that their Souls may live.

We cannot open the hearts of men; it is Thou, O Lord alone, that canst open their hearts: Thou hast the key of David, that canst open, and none can shut; and shut, and none can open. Man can do nothing of himself; it is thou, O Lord, that dost all. Prosper the labours of thy servants in the ministry of this nation, and in all the nations that are nigh, and afar off, where any are gathered to wait Upon thee: Lord, be thou in the midst of them; let every plant of thine own planting, grow, and bring forth fruit to thy praise. Send forth thy light, arid thy truth, and let thy glorious gospel have a free course, and be glorified. Be with those that cannot come to the solemn assemblies of thy people, let them be taught of God: those that lie upon beds of languishing, do thou heal and recover them; let them near the voice of thy rod, and not only receive correction, but instruction, and be taught by thy Spirit to improve their afflictions, that they may thankfully and joyfully say, it is good for us that we were afflicted. Pity “those that are wounded with the sense of their sin, and pour oil into their wounds and speak peace unto them, and pardon, and wash them in the precious blood of Jesus, which cleanseth from all sin; and prepare them for the everlasting enjoyment of thyself in the region of blessedness, where all tears shall be wiped from their eyes, and sorrow and sighing shall be no more. Let the knowledge of the Lord cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea: finish transgression, and make an end of sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness! Lord, let the fear and dread of thy blessed majesty fill the hearts of all the inhabitants of this land, that thou mayest delight to dwell in the midst of us, and bless us. O Lord God Almighty, be pleased to go along with us, to the respective places of our abode, and let thy presence abide with us; and let salvation be for walls and bulwarks round about us! Lord, sprinkle the posts of the doors of thy servants, and sprinkle our hearts and consciences with the blood of the Immaculate Lamb, that the destroying angel may pass by: and preserve all thy people in the hollow of thy hand, and under the wing of thy love, that they may lie down in peace and safety, and extol and magnify thy great and excellent name, who hast extended thy favour to them and preserved them, when they have passed through the great waters, and mighty deeps, where thou hast showed them thy wonderful power, and great salvation: let their souls magnify thy name, and their spirits rejoice in thee, their God and Saviour, who didst preserve thy people Israel at the sea, even at the Red sea, and caused the waters on the right hand and on the left, to stand up as a wall, while they passed through the sea on dry land, and made their hearts glad, and to rejoice in thy great salvation, and triumph in thy praise. Honour and glory be ascribed to thy great and holy name, for that, thou hast of late delivered thy people as in days of old. Let them not go back again into Egypt; but be travelling on to the heavenly Canaan; and in thy good time do thou give them rest, after all their labours, travels, distresses and troubles; and let them sit down under their vines and fig-trees, and eat the fruits of their own labours; and of thy bounty and beneficence, and glorify thy name* with solemn praises, and heavenly conversation. And, blessed God, satisfy the desires of their souls, with respect to their inward, and spiritual state and condition, whose minds are exercised, about making their calling and election sure; that they may at last obtain life everlasting; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Those that have been gathered, and brought to the knowledge of the truth, let them be continued in it, and enjoy heavenly fellowship and communion with thee, and the openings of divine life and love, while they are in their pilgrimage; that they may lay down their heads in peace, and render to Thee, through thy dear Son, Christ Jesus, thy Lamb, and our Light and Leader, (who is both our priest and sacrifice,) glory, honour, dominion and praise, who alone is worthy, and is God over all, blessed forever and ever! Amen.

Reference: The Harmony of Divine Doctrines: Demonstrated in Sundry Declarations on a variety of subjects. Preached at the Quakers’ Meetings in London. By William Penn

GOD’S CALL TO A CARELESS WORLD by William Penn of Pennsylvania

Admiral William Penn (1621-1670)  Founder of Pennsylvania quote concerning Knowledge and Judgement

William Penn Founder of Pennsylvania concerning Knowledge and Judgement (Click to enlarge)

Editors Note: Freedom cannot exist without morality, integrity and self-restraint. This is something the Founding Fathers were quite aware of. The less morality, integrity and self-restraint people have, the greater the need for laws to restrain the actions of men. The idea of self-governance the Founding Fathers promoted included the governing of your passions & desires, to restrain yourself from bad acts and choices. The Founding Fathers knew a people who could govern their own behavior would not need laws to restrain their freedoms! Moral decline in America is key to our loss of liberty!

How many who say “God bless America” realize they each have a duty to help obtain those blessings by living a righteous life? Not only did our ancestors ask for personal forgiveness at Thanksgiving along with their thanks. They also asked forgiveness for our National sins. A very good practice to follow!

GOD’S CALL

TO

A CARELESS WORLD.

A Sermon preached at the Quakers’ Meeting House, in Grace-Church-Street, London, Oct. 21, 1694.

BY WILLIAM PENN.

BLESSED are all those who have answered the call of God, and who are found in his way, whose way is the way of peace, who are not weary of well doing, but having been called of God, have obediently answered that call, and are found diligent, as those that expect to give an account of their deeds done in the body, that neglect not so great salvation, which so numerous a part of mankind are made partakers of; for it is certainly true, that God hath sent his Son into the world to bless mankind, who were all under a curse by nature, and children of wrath; God hath so loved the world, as to send his Son to bless them. But, O my friends! who among us will come to be blessed? who among the sons and daughters of men will come to be blessed of the blessed Son of God this day? who came to bless us, in turning every one of us from our iniquities.

Friends, I call upon you all in the name of the Lord, come and be blessed; they that receive Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God, receive the blessing: O you that have received the dear and blessed Son of God, and have opened the door of your hearts to him and said,’ O come Lord Jesus, come quickly! thou art the chiefest of ten thousand, and altogether lovely, thou art the desire of all nations, and most desirable to my soul; I have had other lovers, but now my soul loveth thee above all, and by thee will only make mention of thy name; which is that strong tower that I will fly unto, and take sanctuary in, at all times: O be not thou far from me when trouble is near, for at what time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee, and thou wilt set me on a rock higher than I; who art mighty to save, who art the author of eternal salvation, that canst save me from sin here, and from the wrath to come.’— All you who have answered thus, the call of God, and love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, that love his appearing, and look and long for it, and who cannot be contented and satisfied without it, that wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus, whom our souls love above all, O wait for Him more than they that watch for the morning; these are they that shall have the heavenly dew of divine grace descend upon them, and they shall grow as the lilly, and increase with the increases of God, and grow strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might; ‘they that wait upon the Lord, (saith the prophet Isaiah,) shall renew their strength ; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint; and they shall get victory over the world, and over the Prince of the power of the air, and triumph over death and the grave, and be able to say, ‘O death where is thy sting! O grave where is thy victory!’ and likewise say with the apostle Paul, when he was ready to be offered, and the time of his departure was at hand, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the Righteous Judge shall give me at that day ; and not to me only, but unto them that also love his appearing: I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, and that hath kept me:’ and you may further say with the same apostle, ‘forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth unto those things that are before, I press forward towards the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’ It is the desire of my ,soul that you may all be a willing people in the day of God’s power, and be pressing forward in the ways of God, towards the heavenly Canaan. And now that you are brought out of Sodom and Egypt, you may never hanker after it again, nor go from the narrow way that leadeth unto life eternal. Remember Lot’s wife; when she looked back, she became a pillar of salt, a monument of God’s displeasure. Therefore take warning by her, you that have hastened out of Sodom; look not back, linger not by the way, but persevere to the end. that you may escape the fiery indignation of the Almighty, which will flame against those, and come upon them to the uttermost, that live and die in their iniquities. O labour therefore abundantly in the work of the Lord, and you shall enjoy eternal rest after all your labours, and you shall then find that your labour shall not be in vain; O faint not in the way of holiness, that leads to everlasting blessedness, and you shall have the love of God shed abroad upon your hearts by the Holy Ghost, and divine refreshment from the presence of the Lord, which will make all the ways of God to be ways of pleasantness and all his paths to be full of peace and joy; that peace that passeth understanding and that joy that is unspeakable and full of glory Therefore follow Christ your grand exemplar and supreme pattern, and be willing to deny yourselves, and take up his cross, and be crucified to the world, and let the world be crucified to you, and you will appear to be the children of the resurrection, who are royally descended, even of the line and family of heaven, children of light, of the Father of lights, who of his own will begat you with the word of truth, that you should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

Here is good news for you, and glad tidings, that you that were children of wrath by nature, may by adoption become heirs of the promise, the promise of eternal life, through Christ Jesus, who hath purchased deliverance and eternal redemption for all that do believe in him. Here is true liberty and enlargement, and an opening of the prison doors to all those that have a deep sense of their misery and bondage. It is joyful news to a man in a foreign country, that lies in prison, and under heavy chains, to hear the joyful report of his redemption, and that the prison shall be opened, and his chains and fetters taken off, and that he shall be set at liberty to return to his native country : this is welcome tidings, relating only to the outward man; but here is a greater deliverance, for it is from a worse bondage and captivity: here is a call to the world, that they will come out of the prison and dark dungeon wherein the devil hath long held them in slavery and bondage; Christ Jesus is come from heaven to deliver them.

O come unto Christ, who is the light of the world, who will bring you out of darkness into his marvellous light; and turn you from the power of Satan, to the power of God. Ye that were sometime darkness, may be made light in the Lord ; you that were children of wrath and children of the devil, may become the children of God : you that were conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity you come to partake of the new birth, and be regenerated and renewed by the Holy Ghost, and washed in the blood of Christ, which cleanseth from all sin, that you may be made meet to enter into the kingdom of God, into which no unclean thing shall ever enter; for alas! what is the use of purging and washing, but to take away stains and spots? O purify yourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; and come unto Christ the author of eternal salvation, and trust in him, and depend upon him, by a true and lively faith, and he will ordain peace for you: He is the great peace-maker, and will make their peace with God that answer the call of God. Blessed are they that come under his sceptre, under his holy and pure power and government.

O Friends, answer the call of God, that call that doth call thee, O man, from thy sin, which will certainly bring thee to destruction, if thou dost continue in it: O hearken to this call of God ! if thou dost answer that call, then thou wilt mind the reproofs that are given thee by the Spirit of God, and the light that shines in thine own heart: thou wilt then say, I cannot go on in that sin that God reproveth me for doing: I cannot rebel any longer against the holy motions of the Spirit of God. 1 remember such a time when I was travelling upon the way, and another time when I was upon my bed, my conscience reproached me, and the Lord rebuked me, and secretly reproved me for such and such a sin as I had committed. Surely it is meet to be said unto God, ‘ I have borne chastisement. I will not offend anymore; that which I see not, teach thou me: I have done iniquity, and I will do no more.’ Say with the Psalmist, ‘ If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand! but there is forgiveness with Thee, that thou mayest be feared.’

When you are under a sense of sin, and feel it as an intolerable burden, you will cry out, O that He that made us would save us, and shew mercy to us for his Son’s sake! the mercy of God is only extended to us in the Son of his love, Christ Jesus. Let us come unto Him that we may have life, and have it more abundantly. Blessed are they that lay hold «n the mercy and loving kindness of the Lord, with whom there is mercy, that be may be feared. ‘The Lord delighteth not in the death of a sinner, but that he may repent, return and live.’ When the Scribes and the Pharisees brought unto Christ the woman taken in adultery, and said to him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act; now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned; but what sayest thou? Jesus said unto them, he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone upon her;’ and they being convicted by their own consciences, went out one by one. When they were gone out, Jesus said unto the woman, ‘Where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? she said, no man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.’ Here he laid the axe to the root of the tree, they lived in the profession but not in the possession of the truth; they went out one by one, and being accused by their own consciences, they ceased to accuse her. Christ by his Spirit doth reprove thee for thy sin, and bids thee go and sin no more. They only shall have the benefit of what Christ hath done and suffered in his outward coming in the flesh, that believe in him, and see the necessity of his inward appearance and coming in the spirit, and answer the same. When Christ stands and knocks at the door of thy heart, be sure to let him in; if thou shuttest the door of thy heart against Christ, thou dost thereby provoke him to shut the door of heaven against thee. Rom. 2: 6. ‘He will render to every man according to his deeds;’ to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour, immortality, eternal life to them ; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doth evil; of the Jew first, and also the Gentile: but glory, honour and peace, to every man that worketh good. There is a time to live and a time to die. This is the day of God’s visitation, when God calls men by his Spirit, and invites them to accept of mercy. There is a time coming when he will call them to judgment: woe be to them that have not answered the first call, when the second call comes. See to it while the Spirit of the Lord strives with you. Hearken to the voice of God, the oracle within, that reproves thee and checks thee for thy sin, and reverence the hand of the Lord when he corrects thee, and do thou patiently bear the indignation of the Lord, because thou hast sinned against Him. This is the day of God’s visitation! now he calls upon sinners, ‘how long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity, and the scorners, delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? turn ye at my reproof; I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded, but ye have set at nought all my counsels, and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish hear and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David cometh upon you: then shall they call upon me, and 1 will not answer, they shall seek me early but they shall not find me; but whoso hearkeneth unto me, shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.’ Isa. 55:3. ‘Incline your ear and come unto me (saith the Lord).’ O live in the fear of the Lord and you shall have peace; live in the fear of God, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; it is the best wisdom that can be; it is the wisdom of heaven and eternity; it is that which promotes thy soul’s eternal happiness. When God calls thee by the voice of the rod, hear the rod, and that hath appointed it, and say in thy heart, O Lord I have waited for thee in the way of thy judgments, I will bear thine indignation because I have sinned against thee. I will submit to thy correction because I have transgressed, L have done- iniquity, I will do so no more ; I have done amiss; I have been vain and foolish, but I will not return to folly. I have forsaken the Lord, and he invites me to return, and I will return unto him.

Friends, they that will not hear God’s call in the day of his grace, God will not hear their call in the day of his wrath; He will be so far from pitying of them, that he will mock when their fear cometh; he will laugh at them and not regard them, and there is reason for it: for they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of my counsel, they despised all my reproof; therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices; for the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them; ‘this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil;’ and there is no peace saith my God, to the wicked; the sacrifices of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord; but unto you that fear my name (saith the Lord) shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing under his wings; and they shall be mine (saith the lord of hosts) in that day that I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Blessed are those that in the day of their visitation answer the call of God’s love, who hath sent his Son to bless us in turning every one of us from our iniquities. There are many would be glad of the blessing, but they say in their hearts, this man shall not reign over us, Christ shall not be our king: but let me tell thee, O man! He will rule and govern thee’ if ever he save thee; He will rule over thy mind, and over thy will, and affections, and desires; and thou must bow to his sceptre, if thou wilt have any share in his sacrifice. Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor; He is called Jesus, the Mighty Saviour; He will both save us from sin here and from the wrath to come. For the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, and teacheth us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; you must be such, if you will obtain the blessing; you must have a godlike life, and be holy in all manner of conversation, and you must be turned from that which turned you from God; you must be turned from sin, or sin will turn you into hell. They that love sin and will live as they list, will find that the wages of sin is death; and yet when Christ comes to judge the world, He will only save those that have taken Him for their Lord as well as their Saviour. O those who would have Christ then, must receive Christ now, and turn to the light of Christ in their own consciences; Christ is the light of the world, he that hath the Light, hath Christ, and he that hath Christ, hath all that is desirable. ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock;’ open the door of thy heart, that Christ the King of glory may come in. O that men would but use their wits, and exercise their reason and understanding, but how contrary do they act to their own reason? they would be saved from death, but hot from sin, which is the cause of it; they would not be delivered from the cause, but only from the effect. The wages of sin is death. If thou wouldst be saved from destruction and perdition, thou must be saved from the cause of it; thou must be saved from thy sin, which is the root of all thy misery. For this end Christ died and shed his precious blood, that He might take away sin, and if He take away sin, He must take it away where it is, even in the hearts of men and women, and there you must receive Him. But if you will live in your sins, there is no way but you must die in your sins; unless Christ save from sin here, and justify you, sin will certainly condemn you. Be willing that Christ shall save you from sin now, and you will have cause to rejoice in the great day of judgment, for he that is the righteous Judge of the world, and that will sentence and condemn the wicked world, will be your Saviour and Justifier. In that day you that mourn now, shall rejoice forever, and obtain everlasting salvation; for Christ is the Author of eternal salvation to all them that believe in him and obey him. O that will be a trying day indeed, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power, when He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe, saith the Apostle Paul, 2 Thess. 1:7. ‘Because our testimony among you was believed in that day; wherefore also we pray always for you, that God would count you worthy of his calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Blessed are they which are prepared for the coming and glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; they that can say with the Apostle, 2 Cor. 5:1. ‘For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an House not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens: for in this we groan earnestly, desiring to be clothed upon with that House which is from heaven.’ It is the groan of faith and hope, and of vehement desire, to be forever with the Lord. Those that are regenerate and born again, they are looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.

It is the desire of my soul, that you may all come to answer the call of God, who hath sent his Son to bless you, and to turn every one of you from your iniquities. Let us not turn aside to the right hand nor to the left, but be pressing forward towards the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and we shall be made partakers of the inheritance of the saints in Light.

The people of Israel were by Joshua’s command, all circumcised, both old and young, before they could enter into the good land, that flows with milk and honey; so must it be now. if you will enter the eternal land by our heavenly Joshua. Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? (saith the Psalmist, Psal. 119: 9.) ‘By taking heed thereto according to thy word.’ Hiding the word of the Lord in your heart, is the circumcising of it: there must be a witnessing of the circumcision in the heart, before we can enter into rest in the heavenly Canaan. The word of the Lord is as a fire, and as a hammer, and as a circumcising knife, the instrument of our purification, which takes away everything that is unclean, that would defile us, that we may become living temples, prepared for the presence of the holy God.

The Proto-Martyr, Stephen, when he reproved the persecuting Jews that stoned him to death, said, ‘Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; As your fathers did, so do ye: Which of the prophets, have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One, of whom you have been now betrayers and murderers.’ The most high God dwelleth not in temples made with hands; ‘Thus saith the Lord, the heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made. But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.’ Therefore, my friends, give up your hearts to the Lord, that he may say, ‘Here do I delight to dwell, this is my habitation; for I have desired it;’ walk in the holy ways of God, and his word will be a light to your feet, and a lanthorn to your paths, and you will find the good ways of God to be ways of pleasantness, and all his paths to be full of peace. O pray, with the royal Psalmist, ‘Create in me, O God, a clean heart, and renew a right spirit in me; cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me: Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit: Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee.’ People must be first converted themselves, before they can be fit instruments to convert others. ‘I love them that love me, (saith the Lord,) and they that seek me early shall find me,’ that seek me in the first place, before and above all. ‘Wash you, make ye clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes: Cease to do evil, and learn to do well. Come now, and let us reason together, (saith the Lord.) Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’ This is the call of God, hearken to it, and obey; and do not start aside like a broken bow, for then woe unto you: ‘Better that a millstone were hanged about your necks, and you cast into the midst of the sea,’ than be disobedient to the Lord, and live and die in your sins, and at last be drowned in destruction and perdition.

O, my Friends, hearken to the call of Christ; hear and your souls shall live. ‘Doth not Wisdom cry, and Understanding put forth her voice? Unto you,

O men, 1 call, and my voice is to the sons of men: Hear, for, I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things; For my mouth shall speak truth, and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness: I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures.’ What is this substance? It is heavenly treasures in the other world, ‘where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and thieves do not break through nor steal.’ The immutable God, that changeth not, hath an unchangeable inheritance for his people, that cannot find peace nor rest in their own hearts, till they find a place for the God df Jacob to dwell in: it is their most ardent desire that he may dwell in their hearts, and that they may for ever dwell with him in heaven.

O, my Friends, cast your care upon the Lord, and nothing shall be able to overwhelm you. If you have peace with God, he will in his time, make your enemies to be at peace with you; so that you may sit down under your own vines, and under your own fig trees, and eat the fruit of your labours. O say, with the Psalmist, ‘My soul waiteth for the Lord, more than they that watch for the morning,

I say, more than they that watch for the morning. Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him there is plenteous redemption.’ ‘What I say to you, I say unto all. Watch, (saith our Saviour,) Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.’ We must watch always, and pray without ceasing; I must not pray before I watch. Let us always be upon our watch, and walk so as remembering we are always in the presence of the omnipresent God. Let us set the Lord always before us, and consider we are under his all-seeing eye: Let us take heed unto our ways, and turn our feet unto God’s testimonies Let us look up to God and say, with holy David, ‘as the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God! When shall I come and appear before God? Lord, thou wilt shew me the path of life. In thy presence there is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.’ When you are panting and breathing after the inward enjoyment of the divine presence, some may ignorantly call it enthusiasm, say it is merely the effect of melancholy; but holy David, the man after God’s own heart, was such an enthusiast, be did ardently pant and breathe after the enjoyment of God’s presence: God hath made known himself in and through his well-beloved Son Jesus Christ; God is in Christ, and Christ is in us, if we are his. Examine yourselves, saith the apostle, know ye not that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? If God be in Christ, and Christ Jesus e in us, to rule and govern us, we are safe and happy; he will be with us in the time of distress, trouble and tribulation; and will preserve us in the hour of temptation. What though we may meet with storms and tempests in our labours and travels on this earth: This may encourage us, that we have a serene heaven over our heads, and in the darkest night of our affliction, we may look up to the bright morning star, Christ Jesus, who is our light and our leader; and if we be weary and heavy laden, he will give us rest: And if we be wound ed with the sense of our sins, he is the great physician of souls, and the Sun of righteousness that will arise with healing under his wings.

My Friends, this is the love of God to mankind. He will bless us in turning us from our sin to himself; he will turn us from darkness to light, and turn us from that which hath turned us from God, if we will hear him. Let us pray and strive against sin, and bemoan ourselves with Ephraim, and say, ‘Lord, thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke. Turn thou me and I shall be turned, for thou art the Lord my God.’ If we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, we shall with Ephraim hear the sounding of God’s bowels, and the voice of God pronouncing peace and pardon to us: ‘Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For since I speak against him, I do earnestly remember him still, therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I , will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.’ But, my friends, notwithstanding the great love of God to mankind; yet how doth the Lord complain by the Prophet: ‘Hear, O Heavens, and give ear, O Earth, for the Lord hath spoken; I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know; my people doth not consider.’ The ox and ass, which are dull and stupid creatures, do upbraid their ingratitude, who are not affected with the kindness of God, but have forgotten him days without number. O remember your Owner; live unto him, and not to yourselves. ‘Ye are none of your own, ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God with your bodies, and; with your spirits, which are his. O live unto Christ that died for you; live unto his glory, that died for your salvation; hereby you will come to please God, by believing in him in whom he is well pleased, and you shall have that peace and joy that the world cannot give nor take away. Our Saviour said to the woman of Samaria, ‘If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water; whosoever shall drink of this water, shall thirst again, but whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.’ They that come unto Christ and believe in him, they shall receive living comforts and refreshments; be will satisfy them with living water. These divine, sweet and refreshing joys, are only tasted by those that believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who will abundantly satisfy the thirsty souls. He will give them living waters from the brooks of Shiloh, the streams whereof make glad the city of God. They that that drink of these waters, of these living streams which they receive from Christ the Fountain, shall never thirst again. Christ is that living Fountain that gives refreshment and satisfaction to all that come to him. It is of his fulness that we all receive, grace for grace. Here is a well set open by the living and eternal God, a fountain unsealed, for whoever will come, may come, and drink of the well of the water of life freely.

Living praises be given to the most blessed everlasting God, that thus aboundeth in his mercy towards us, and deals bountifully with us: ‘For God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son; whom he hath appointed heir of all things, who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.’ He came into the world to seek and save us that were lost, who took our nature and sin upon him; who hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: God hath made him to be sin who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. ‘He hath suffered for us, (saith the apostle Peter,) leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps, who his own self bare our sins in his own body upon the tree; that we being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness.’ If we follow the Captain of our salvation, who was made perfect through sufferings, we shall overcome the world, the flesh and the devil, and be more than conquerors through him that hath loved us; and go out of the world triumphantly, and say with the apostle, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing:’ To whom be glory, praise and dominion, forever and ever. Amen.

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SALVATION FROM SIN BY CHRIST ALONE: A Sermon by William Penn; Founder of Pennsylvania

William Penn quote concerning the Holy Ghost

William Penn concerning the Holy Ghost (Click to enlarge)

[Editor notes in Italics and brackets]

SALVATION FROM SIN

BY CHRIST ALONE:

OR,

The Arm of the Lord Revealed.

A SERMON PREACHED AT THE QUAKERS’ MEETINGHOUSE IN GRACE CHURCH STREET, LONDON, AUGUST 12, 1694.

By WILLIAM PENN. [Founder of Pennsylvania]

The great and blessed God that made heaven and earth, the seas and the great fountains of the deep, and rivers of water, the Almighty Jehovah who is from everlasting to everlasting; He also made man and woman, and his design was to make them eternally happy and blessed. And therefore He made man in his own image; ‘in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them:’ He made them after his own likeness holy, wise, merciful, just, patient, and humble, endued them with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. But man and woman through their transgressions lost the image of God, and with it lost their happiness and true blessedness, that God made them in a capacity to enjoy.

Now in this state of misery into which we are fallen, we are come short of the glory of God; and it is out of this wretched woeful state we must be brought, else we shall never see the face of God with comfort. This is an eternal truth of God, and recorded in the Holy Scriptures, John 3:16.

That ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ God so loved the world, he gave his Son to be a light unto the world, that all might see their way back to God again: for sin hath darkened the understanding, and clouded the mind of man and woman, and alienated them from the life of God, and their hearts are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. But now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation, the day of God’s grace and favorable visitation, wherein he visits men and women,’ illuminates their minds and spirits with a light from heaven, that they might see the deplorable state and condition wherein they are, and what they are doing: it is in this light that they have a day of grace vouchsafed to them, that it may be well with them, both here and for ever. They that receive this light, and come out of that which they are called from, which is sin, they may come to enjoy peace with God. It was sin that first separated between God and Man; and it is sin now that hinders man from acquaintance with the Lord, who brings peace unto him; it is by this light, that we are to acquaint ourselves with God, that we may be at peace. Thus saith the Lord by the prophet,’ it is sin has separated between me and you!’ Sin hath made a partition wall between God and us, and God hath sent his Son into the world to break down this partition wall that sin hath made; that so fallen man might return to God, and come into Paradise again, out of which sin hath cast him.

Now, none can bring us back to God, and into favor and communion with Him, but our Lord Jesus Christ: He is the light and leader of his people. There is no name under heaven by which we can be saved, but the name of Jesus: It is he that saves his people from their sins; and it is in him alone that we are blessed: ‘Blessed is be whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered;’ And for the sake of Christ alone it is, that the Lord imputeth not iniquity to us. Now pray ‘Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith,’ 2 Cor. 13:5. ‘Prove your ownselves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates.’ Examine yourselves, whether you have chosen the Lord for your God, and Christ for your Redeemer? And whether you have forsaken your sins, and turned from your evil ways, and answered the visitation of the love of God in your souls? Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save them that were lost? He is the physician of value, that was wounded to heal our wounds: ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and had the chastisement of our peace upon him; that by his stripes we might be healed:’ It is he alone that can do this. Who is sufficient for these things? The Lord found out one that is sufficient; he hath laid help upon one that is mighty, that is ‘able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.’ God hath given him the Spirit without measure, and filled him with grace and truth, that of his fullness we might all receive, and grace for grace: He is mighty to save the sons and daughters of men, and to give them power to become the children of God.

This was testified of old, John 1:12. ‘But as many as received him, to them gave be power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on his name.’ Men want power over their sins: When sin appears to be exceeding sinful, they would overcome it, and be rid of it when it is troublesome: And when they are under a deep conviction of the evil of it, and see the woeful and miserable state, that sin has brought mankind into, how they have lost the image of God, and the favour of God; they then desire to be restored, and brought back again into their primitive state. You that know the truth of God, see how the work goes on in your hearts, see how the image of God is carrying on upon you. Consider, that the Lord is a Holy God, of purer eyes than to behold iniquity with approbation: There is no peace to the wicked, that walk in the broad way, and grieve the Holy Spirit, and do not answer his divine call. There is a two-fold call concerning man; a call to repentance, and a call to judgment. The call to repentance is in this day of God’s visitation; they that receive it now, that are so wise as to answer God’s call and believe in the Son of God, and in his inward appearance, that obey his voice, when they hear his call, saying, Come away, come out of thy sins, come out of the wickedness, filthiness and pollution of the world; come into the divine nature of the Son of God; come into his life: Into what life? Into the spiritual life, the divine life?— Thou hast been dead to God and alive to the world: Now that thou mayst be dead to sin, and alive to God, come unto him that hath all power in heaven and earth, committed to him. O come unto Christ, the dear and blessed Son of God, in this day of grace and salvation, and receive power to overcome thy sins! Then thou wilt be a conqueror, and overcome the devil. [i.e. self, adamic nature of man]

We are of ourselves altogether insufficient for these things, we are weak and impotent; and our Saviour hath told us, ‘ Without me ye can do nothing:’ We are justified freely by God’s grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ; not justified by our own works. How great a contradiction is it to charge them with the contrary, that say, they cannot preach nor pray, but as the Spirit of God moveth them. Blessed be God that hath made us sensible of our own weakness, emptiness and poverty. Our help hath been in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth, who hath given his Son to be an helper, and an all-sufficient Saviour to us; with him he hath given sufficient power and strength, whereby we are enabled to overcome the devil, the enemy of our souls: So that we may be enabled to stand against principalities and powers, against spiritual wickedness, and conquer all the powers of darkness, and fight the good fight of faith, and finish our course with joy, and keep the faith : seeing there is laid up for us a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give us at that day; and not only to us, (saith the apostle) but unto all them that love his appearing. We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in till points tempted like as we are, yet without sin: Christ, our Redeemer, was tempted, that he might succour those that are tempted. When the devil tempted our Saviour in the wilderness, and could not prevail, he went away and left him: The prince of this world found nothing in him, upon which he could fasten his temptation. Christ will enable those that believe in him to overcome the devil, and to be more than conquerors, through him that loved them: He came into the world to purge and purify his people, and to be the Author of eternal salvation to all them that believe in Him, and obey him. But it is said, ‘ He did not many mighty works’ among some to whom he preached the everlasting gospel, because of their unbelief: Many will not believe in the inward and spiritual appearance of Jesus Christ the Son of God, who is the light of the world; they will neither believe in the light, nor walk in the light, which will enable them to conquer the evil one, who is the prince of darkness. It is only through Christ Jesus the great captain, of our salvation, that we are victorious.

Therefore, my friends open your hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ, receive this blessed gift of God which he offers to you: And can God give you a greater, than the Son of his love? And will not you gladly receive him, and that great salvation which he hath purchased for you with his own blood! But, say some people, we have received Christ, and believe in him, and believe the divine authority of the Holy Scriptures. But let me ask you, who keeps house all this while? What have you done for Christ? Christ hath died for you; but hast thou lived to him? And hast thou died to the world, and died to thy sins and lusts? Consider with your-selves, it is both your great duty and interest to die to sin, and live to Christ that died for you. And we must stand at Christ’s tribunal, and give an account, to him, of whatsoever we have done, whether good or bad; and he will judge us at the great day of his appearing. Blessed are you, that receive the blessed Son of God, that now stands in spirit at the door and knocks: Open your heart, and make room for him, and let not the world keep him out and he will come in, and sup with you, and you with him: And he will do that for you, which you cannot do for yourselves. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak: He will give the power over sin, and over the world, and over the devil [your own will and desires]: Whenever he shall assault thee with his temptations, say, Get thee behind me Satan, thou savourest not the things that be of God. When people come to be spiritually minded they will taste and savour the things, that are spiritual and heavenly: if they be not things of God, do not touch with them, have nothing to do with them; but walk in the spirit, and savour the things of the spirit. And hearken to the counsel of Christ, who speaks unto you in the name of wisdom; ‘O ye simple ones understand wisdom, and ye fools be of an understanding heart; hear, for I will speak of excellent things, and the opening of my lips shall be right things: Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors: For whoso findeth me, findeth life’ Hearken to the blessed counsel of Christ, hear his voice and obey it; they that do his will, shall know his doctrine: The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant.

They that have the saving knowledge of God, and Christ Jesus, which is life eternal, they will walk in a correspondent and suitable manner to that knowledge, and be holy in all manner of conversation; they will not be only nominal christians, but true christians, Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile: they will receive Christ Jesus, who is God’s gift, and know the operation of his power in their souls. These persons are fit to live, and prepared to die; when Christ, who is their life, shall appear, they shall appear with him in glory. When the sound of the last trumpet shall be heard at the end of the world, time shall be no more; Come away! that day shall not be terrible to them that have put off the old man [Adamic nature, i.e. the devil], and put on the new man [Christ Jesus, the 2nd Adam]; and have begun to live a new life, and to have new affections, new thoughts, and resolutions, and have laid up their treasure in heaven, where their hearts are also: They have that peace, which the world cannot give, and which death cannot take away. Blessed are they, that take sanctuary in the name of Jesus, as in a strong tower; they shall get power over their sins, and over the vanity of their minds, that die to sin, and live to God, and feel the constraining power and efficacy of the love of Christ, who hath loved them, and washed them from their sins, in his own blood, and made them kings and priests to God.

My friends, hear the voice of wisdom, who bath said,’ Whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord: But be that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul.’ Be you early seekers: seek the kingdom of God in the first place. The Lord calls from heaven; ‘My Son, give me thine heart.’ Let thy answer be; Lord take my heart, purify and cleanse it; break it, and make it new, make it fit for thy acceptance, that I may find favour in thy sight. Without me (saith our Saviour) ye can do nothing: Therefore desire him to do it for thee, and to work in thee both to will and to do of his own good pleasure. How dreadful is it to appear at the bar of God’s justice, as miserable sinners! Those that have not Christ the great mediator, to plead for them, are miserable indeed; Therefore lay hold on Christ now; believe in him, lay hold on his power and spirit in this day of your visitation. If thou art under the power of sin and Satan, thou mayest receive power from Christ, to overcome all the power of darkness: If the strong man armed hath got possession of thy heart, Christ will lay siege to it: and if thou be willing to open the door, Christ will come in and cast out the strong man, and spoil him of all his goods. He will cast out the grand enemy of thy soul, and take possession for himself; that thou mayest be delivered from the power of Satan, and from the bondage of corruption, and brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of God: And if the Son of God make thee free, thou shalt be free indeed. For this end Christ came into the world, for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil; And he will not lose the design of his coming, but will finish transgression, and make an end of sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness.

Let us all come to Christ, and let none deceive themselves, and live in their sins, and yet think to come to Heaven: Be not deceived (saith the apostle) God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man Sows, that he shall also reap: He that sows to his flesh [Own desires, old man, Adamic nature i.e. the devil] shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap everlasting life. Labour for a sure grounded hope, a just hope in the mercy of God for pardon and salvation j then you must know a work of Christ upon you, and the power of the Spirit of Christ within you, subduing your will to a holy subjection to the Divine Will; that you may say with the apostle; I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Then the call to judgment will be joyful to you; for you shall then be justified and acquitted before the whole world, at that great and general judgment, and have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and it shall be well with you forever. Now, say to the righteous, it shall be well with him: not that it doth so appear at present; for through many tribulations we must expect to enter into the kingdom of heaven: And many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord will deliver them out of them all. So that if in this life only (saith the apostle) we have hope, we are of all men most miserable: Yet, say to the righteous, ‘it shall be well with him.’ Whatsoever their trials, troubles and tribulations are, the Lord will deliver them in the best time; they have heaven in their eye, and they look to the recompense of reward. Now what hast thou in thine eye? Is it the high calling in Christ? Is this the mark thou aimest at, and which thou hast in view? Is this the port and haven, that thou art sailing to, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame? Heb. 12:2. The apostle, after he had been speaking of the suffering and martyrdom of those great saints, of whom the world was not worthy; Heb. 11. How that through faith, they subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopt the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens; of women, that received their dead to life again, and others were tortured, not accepting of deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Then he comes to speak of the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, and bids us, look unto him. Heb. 12:1,2,3. “Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith: Who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, and despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied, and faint in your minds.” Blessed are they that can endure all these things, shame, reproach, contumely and disdain, persecutions and afflictions, that attend the testimony of Jesus! Blessed are they, that can endure the cross [your sins, iniquity, faults, failures], and despise the shame! It is an internal cross, which thou must endure for Christ, or thy own heart will reprove thee, check thee and condemn thee for it: But if thou comest to know a being crucified with Christ, thou shalt reign with him, and be raised up to eternal glory with him. Unless thou knowest a dying to the world, and a being crucified with Christ, thou canst not have a well grounded hope of everlasting happiness.

Therefore now, Friends, examine yourselves about your title to heaven. It is the wisdom and practice of the world, to examine their titles and settlements, and to see they be sure, and firm and stable before hand: So we should make sure for heaven and eternal glory, and of an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, before this earthly tabernacle be dissolved; then for us to live will be Christ, and to die will be eternal gain. Blessed are they that bear record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus, that bear his name, and testify and join with him against the spirit of the world, and the prince of the power of the air. It is within that thou must join with Christ’s appearance, that so thou mayest be Christianized, and thy mind made truly Christian: Thou must be purified in thy spirit, and baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire, and know the powerful operation of the Lord: They that have not experience of the new birth, they cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

O my Friends, set before you the example of Christ, who was holy, harmless and undented; his life was glorious in holiness: And as it becomes you, so it highly concerns you, to be holy in all manner of conversation. For if you imitate not the life of Christ, you cannot be saved by his death. He came into the world to redeem you from all iniquity and to save you from sin and hell; labour to answer the dignity of your high and holy calling, with a conversation becoming the gospel of Christ: For you are called to glory and virtue. Whatsoever troubles, temptations and tribulations may attend you in your pilgrimage here below, if you be faithful and sincere, you will have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. In all your labours and travels on this earth, you may look up with joy, for you have a serene heaven over your heads; let Christ be precious to you; open the door of your hearts to him, who is the King of Glory. He is oppressed in the hearts of the unclean, but he is exalted and lifted up in the hearts of the faithful; Blessed are they that set him upon his throne in their hearts! O learn of Christ to be meek and lowly. Your humility will exalt him, and will also exalt you at the last. Be faithful to the death, and you shall receive a crown of life. Those that have eternal life in their eye, and depend upon Christ alone for salvation, they have laid a sure foundation. All other foundations will come to nothing; they are founded in time, and in time they will come to molder away: but that city that God is the Builder and Maker of, that Abraham had in his eye, will never decay, nor molder away. Let us have this always in our eye, that nothing may intercept our view. We have here (saith the apostle) no continuing city; We seek one that is to come. In this world we are as sheep among wolves. Fear not, little flock, (saith our Saviour,) it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you a kingdom. If we be the sheep of Christ we shall follow him; for his sheep follow him, and know his voice, and a stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they know not the voice of a stranger. My sheep (saith Christ) hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hands. Here is encouragement for us to labour abundantly in the work of the Lord; for our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. Let us, with Moses, choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; and esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; and have respect to the recompense of reward.

Friends, I beseech you, in the fear of God, look up unto Jesus, the great Mediator of the new covenant, the Author and Finisher of your faith; that by patient continuance in well doing, you may seek for glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life; which you shall obtain, if you persevere to the end: For he that endureth to the end, shall be saved.

Be not weary of well-doing; for in due time you shall reap, if ye faint not. He that bath appeared, as a God of salvation, and a mighty preserver of his people in all ages of the world, and hath been so both to the primitive Christians, and to all our Christian friends, that are gone before us to an eternal rest, if you faint not, but follow them, who through faith and patience do inherit the promises, you shall lay down your heads in peace in him, when you come to die: And when time shall be no more, you shall be forever with the Lord.

To God be praise, honour and glory, who hath stretched forth his mighty arm to save. Who is the arm of the Lord but Christ Jesus, the Redeemer of souls? When we had undone ourselves, and lost ourselves, in wandering and departing from the Lord, the true and living God, into darkness and the shadow of death, he stretched forth his almighty arm, to gather us, and to bring us into the Paradise of God again, when we were driven out by our own sin, from the face and presence of the Lord. Christ Jesus, the great and good Shepherd of his sheep, came to seek and to save them that were lost. The lost sheep that have wandered from him, he will take them on his shoulder, and bring them to his fold: And he will make them lie down in green pastures, and lead them by the still waters, and satisfy them with the rivers of pleasure that are at God’s right hand for evermore. He hath promised, ‘that he will feed his flock like a shepherd, and gather his lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom.’ I hope Christ Jesus, the great Shepherd, will find some here this day, ‘that have gone astray, and gather them with his divine arm, and keep them by his mighty power, through faith, unto salvation. To him be all praise, honour, glory, dominion and thanksgiving; For he alone is worthy, who is God over all, blessed forever and ever! Amen.

Reference: The Harmony of Divine Doctrines: Demonstrated in Sundry Declarations on a variety of subjects. Preached at the Quakers’ Meetings in London. By William Penn

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REVIEW OF CUSTANCE ON THE CONSTITUTION

The Magna Carta (Click to enlarge)

The Magna Carta (Click to enlarge)

Sharing this article by Rev. Robert Hall mainly for the quote in the first paragraph.

REVIEW OF CUSTANCE ON THE CONSTITUTION

 

A Concise View of the Constitution of England. By George Custance. Dedicated, by permission, to William Wilberforce, Esq., M.P.for the County of York. Kidderminster: Gower; London: Longman and Co.; Hatchard. 1808.

It were surely to be wished that every man had a competent acquaintance with the laws and constitution of the country to which he belongs. Patriotism is a blind and irrational impulse, unless it is founded on a knowledge of the blessings we are called to secure, and the privileges we propose to defend. In a tyrannical state it is natural for the ruling power to cherish political ignorance, which can alone reconcile men to the tame surrender of their natural rights. The diffusion of light and knowledge is very unfavourable to ill-founded pretensions of every sort, but to none more than the encroachments of arbitrary power and lawless violence. The more we explore the recesses of a dungeon, the less likely are we to be reconciled to take up our residence in it. But the venerable fabric of the British constitution, our hereditary mansion, whether it be tried by the criterion of convenience or of beauty, of ancient prescription or of practical utility, will bear the most rigid examination; and the more it is contemplated will be the more admired.

The Romans were so conscious of the importance of imparting to the rising generation an early knowledge of their laws and constitution, that the contents of the twelve tables were committed to memory, and formed one of the first elements of public instruction. They were sensible that what lays hold of the mind at so early a period is not only likely to be long remembered, but is almost sure to command veneration and respect. We are not aware that similar attempts have been made to render the British youth acquainted with the principles of our admirable constitution, not inferior surely to that of the Roman republic; a defect in the system of education which the circumstances of the present crisis loudly call upon us to supply. When our existence as an independent nation is threatened, when unexampled sacrifices must be made, and, perhaps, the utmost efforts of patience and of persevering courage exerted for our preservation, an attachment to that constitution which is the basis of all our prosperity, cannot be too zealously promoted or too deeply felt. It is a just and enlightened estimate of the invaluable blessings that constitution secures, which alone can make us sustain our present burdens without repining, as well as prepare us for greater privations and severer struggles. For this reason we cannot but look upon the performance before us as a most seasonable publication. One cause of the attention of youth being so little directed to our national laws and constitution, in schools, is probably the want of suitable books. We have an abundance of learned and able writers on these subjects; but few, if any, that are quite adapted to the purpose we are now speaking of. Millar’s is a very profound and original work; but it supposes a great deal of previous knowledge, without which it can be scarcely understood, and is in every view better adapted to aid the researches of an antiquary, or the speculations of a philosopher, than to answer the end of an elementary treatise. De Lolme’s performance may be deemed more suitable; yet, able and ingenious as it is, it labours under some essential deficiencies, considered in the light of an elementary work. There is in it a spirit of refined speculation, an eagerness to detect and display latent, unthought-of excellences, in the frame of government, which is very remote from the simplicity requisite in the lessons of youth. Of Blackstone’s Commentaries it would be presumptuous in us to attempt an eulogium, after Sir William Jones has pronounced it to be the most beautiful outline that was ever given of any science. Nothing can exceed the luminous arrangement, the vast comprehension, and, we may venture to add from the best authorities, the legal accuracy of this wonderful performance, which, in style and composition, is distinguished by an unaffected grace, a majestic simplicity, which can only be eclipsed by the splendour of its higher qualities. Admirable, however, as these commentaries are, it is obvious that they are much too voluminous and elaborate to answer the purpose of an introduction to the study of the English constitution. We do, therefore, most sincerely congratulate the public on the appearance of a work which we can safely recommend as ‘well fitted to supply a chasm in our system of public instruction. The book before us is, in ever}’ view, well adapted for the instruction of youth: the clear and accurate information h conveys upon a most important subject, and the truly Christian tincture of its maxims and principles, are well calculated to enlarge the understanding and improve the heart. We beg leave particularly to recommend it to the attention of schools, in which, we conceive, a general acquaintance with the laws and constitution of the country might be cultivated with much advantage, as forming a proper preparation for the active scenes of life. Legal provisions for the security of the best temporal interests of mankind are the result of so much collective wisdom and experience, and are so continually conversant with human affairs, that we know no study more adapted to invigorate the understanding, and at the same time to give a practical turn to its speculations. The close cohesion of its parts tends to make the mind severely argumentative, while its continual relation to the state of society and its successive revolutions fences it in on the side of metaphysical abstraction and useless theories. What we look upon (for the reasons already mentioned) to be a most useful and interesting study at all times, we would earnestly recommend as an indispensable duty at the present crisis.

Of the merits of the work before us, the public may form some judgment, when we inform them that it contains whatever is most interesting to the general reader in Blackstone, together with much useful information derived from Professor Christian, De Lolme, and various other eminent authors. Some will be ready to accuse the writer of having carried his partiality toward whatever is established too far; nor dare we say the charge is entirely unfounded. We are not disposed, however, to be severe upon him on this account. We wish to see the minds of our youth preoccupied with a strong bias in favour of our national institutions. We would wish to see them animated by a warm and generous enthusiasm, and to defer the business of detecting faults and exposing imperfections to a future period. Let us only be allowed to remark, that this policy should be temperately employed; lest the mind should suffer a revulsion, and pass, perhaps abruptly, from implicit admiration to the lest, indignant at having been misled, it censure for undistinguishing applause.

We wish our author had, in common with Blackstone, expressed his disapprobation of the severity of our criminal code. The multiplicity of capital punishments we shall always consider as a reproach to the English nation; though, numerous as they are, they bear no proportion to what they ‘would be were the law permitted to take its course. The offences deemed capital by the common law are few; the sanguinary complexion of the criminal law, as it now stands, has arisen from the injudicious tampering of the legislature. To us it appears evident, that the certainty of punishment will restrain offenders more than its severity.; and that, when men are tempted to transgress, they do not weigh the emolument they had in view against the penalty awarded by law, but simply the probability of detection and punishment against that of impunity. Let the punishments be moderate, and this will be the most effectual means of rendering them certain. While nothing can exceed the trial by jury, and the dignified impartiality with which justice is administered, we are compelled to look upon the criminal code with very different emotions, and earnestly to wish it were carefully revised, and made more humane, simple, and precise.

As little can we concur with the author before us in the defence he sets up of the donation of pensions and where there are no pretensions of personal merit or honorable services. Standing quite aloof from party politic must affirm, that to whatever extent such a practice exactly in the same proportion is it a source of public calamity and disgrace. To look at it, as our author does, only in a pecuniary view, is to neglect the principal consideration. It is not merely or chiefly as a waste of public money that the granting of sinecures and pensions to the undeserving ought to be condemned; the venality and corruption it indicates and produces is its worst feature, and an infallible symptom of a declining state. With these exceptions, we have accompanied the author with almost uninterrupted pleasure, and have been highly gratified with the good sense, the extensive information, and the unaffected piety he displays throughout the work. Though a firm and steady churchman himself, be manifests a truly Christian spirit toward the Protestant dissenters; and is so far from looking with an evil eye on the large toleration they enjoy, that he contemplates with evident satisfaction the laws on which that toleration is founded.

Of the style of this work, it is but justice to say that, without aspiring to any high degree of ornament, it is pure, perspicuous, and correct, well suited to the subject on which it is employed.

As a fair specimen of Mr. C.’s manner of thinking, we beg leave to lay before our readers the following just and appropriate remarks on dueling:—

“Deliberate dueling falls under the head of express malice; and the law of England has justly fixed the crime and punishment of murder upon both the principal and accessaries of this most unchristian practice. Nothing more is necessary with us, to check this daring violation of all law, than the same firmness and integrity in the trial of duellists which so eminently distinguish an English jury on all other “occasions.

“Perhaps it will be asked, what are men of honour to do, if they must not appeal to the pistol and sword? The answer is obvious: if one gentleman has offended another, he cannot give a more indisputable proof of genuine courage, than by making a frank acknowledgment of his fault, and asking forgiveness of the injured party. On the other hand, if he have received an affront, he ought freely to forgive, as he hopes to be forgiven of God. And if either of the parties aggravate the matter by sending a challenge to fight, the other must not be a partaker of sin, if he would obey God rather than man.

“Still it will be said that a military or naval man, at least, must not decline a challenge, if he would maintain the character of a man of courage. But is it not insulting the loyalty and good sense of the brave defenders of our laws, to imagine that they of all men must violate them to preserve their honour; since the king has expressly forbidden any military man to send a challenge to fight a duel, upon pain of being cashiered, if an officer; and of suffering corporal punishment, if a non-commissioned officer or private soldier? Nor ought any officer or soldier to upbraid another for refusing a challenge, whom his Majesty positively declares he considers as having only acted in obedience to his (fn. 1) royal orders; and fully acquits of any disgrace that may be attached to his conduct. Besides, what necessary connection is there between the fool-hardiness of one who risks the eternal perdition of his neighbour and of himself in an unlawful combat, and the patriotic bravery of him who, when duty calls, boldly engages the enemy of his king and country? None will dispute the courage of the excellent Colonel Gardiner, who was slain at the battle of Preston Pans, in the rebellion of 1745. Yet he once refused a challenge, with this dignified remark: ‘I fear sinning, though I do not fear fighting.’ (Fn.2) The fact is, that fighting a duel is so far from being a proof of a man’s possessing true courage, that it is an infallible mark of his cowardice. For he is influenced by ‘the fear of man,’ whose praise he loveth more than the praise of God.”

Fn.1  See ‘ Articles of War,’ sec. 7.”

Fn.2 See Doddridge’s ‘Life of Colonel Gardiner,’ an interesting piece of biography, worthy the perusal of every officer in the army and navy.

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CHRISTIANITY PROMOTES A LOVE OF FREEDOM

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This piece of literature is long, however it is well worth the read, keeping in mind it builds and gains expression as you read further and further, it gets better the further you read as it is laid out in sublime eloquence and common sense reasoning. For the record, I, like Robert Hall am also not a unitarian, nor am I a trinitarian for that matter.

If you can…

Imagine the awe, excitement, wonder and energy among the common people when the Bible was printed in English & other languages, where they could read it for themselves & learned how the state & clergy lied to them for centuries about what was contained there.

These people were lied to all of their lives as were their ancestors for as long as they could remember. They were exposed to the truth for the first time.

They were zealous, honest hearted, and full of the desire to learn more!

This is what led to the foundation of the United States of America during the period called “the Enlightenment”

I saw the same type of hunger for the truth among the church people of Haiti when I was there in ’78.

“There is, assuredly, no other country on earth in which Shakespeare and the Bible are held in such general high esteem,” wrote the German journalist Karl Knortz speaking of the United States of America in the 1880’s

CHRISTIANITY PROMOTES A LOVE OF FREEDOM

ORIGINALLY TITLED: CHRISTIANITY CONSISTENT WITH A LOVE OF FREEDOM:

BEING

AN ANSWER BY REV. ROBERT HALL

TO

A SERMON,

LATELY PUBLISHED, BY THE REV. JOHN CLAYTON.

[published In 1791.]

It may be proper just to remark, that the animadversions I have made on Mr. John Clayton’s Sermon did not arise from my conviction of there being anything even of plausibility in his reasonings, but from an apprehension that certain accidental and occasional prejudices might give some degree of weight to one of the weakest defenses of a bad cause that was ever undertaken. I have taken up more time in showing that there is no proper connection between the Unitarian doctrine and the principles of liberty than the subject may seem to require; but this will not be thought superfluous by those who recollect that that idea seems to be the great hinge of Mr. Clayton’s discourse, and that it appears amongst the orthodox part of the dissenters to have been productive already of unhappy effects. I shall only add, that these remarks would have appeared much sooner but for severe indisposition, and that I was induced to write them chiefly from a persuasion that they might perhaps, in the present instance, have somewhat of additional weight as coming from one who is not an Unitarian.

Cambridge.

Sept. 17, 1791.

John Clayton’s ‘The duty of Christians to Magistrates’: a Sermon occasioned by the late Riots at Birmingham, preached at the King’s Weigh-house, East-Cheap, on Lord’s-day morning, July 24th, 1791. With a prefixed address to the public, intended to remove the reproach lately fallen on protestant dissenters. This sermon which led to a controversy, and provoked from Robert Hall his fine vindication of liberty, entitled ‘Christianity consistent with a Love of Freedom.’

NOTE BY THE EDITOR.

Christianity consistent with a Love of Freedom’ was written when Rev. Robert Hall was twenty-seven years of age; and he never would consent to its re-publication. He continued to think the main principles correct and important; but he regarded the tone of animadversion as severe, sarcastic, and unbecoming. Three or four editions have, however, been printed surreptitiously; and one of them, which now lies before me, Is so complete an imitation of the original edition of 1791, as usually to escape detection.

This, though one of the earliest productions laid by Mr. Hall before the public, is, with the exception already adverted to, by no means calculated to deteriorate his reputation. It contains some powerful reasoning as well as some splendid passages, and the concluding four or five pages exhibit a fine specimen of that union of severe taste, and lofty genius, and noble sentiment, which is evinced, I think, more frequently in his compositions than in those of any other modern author.

I have no fear of incurring blame for having cancelled throughout the name of the individual against whom Mr. Hall’s strictures were leveled. Venerable for his age, and esteemed for his piety, who would now voluntarily cause him, or those who love him, a pang ?*

Royal Miljtary Academy,
June 1,1831.

* As the name is now pretty generally known, and the distance of the event removes all personal feelings, there appears no reason why it should be suppressed in the present edition. It is “The Reverend John Clayton,” at that time minister of the Weigh House, Eastcheap.—Publisher.

CHRISTIANITY CONSISTENT WITH A LOVE OF FREEDOM,
&c. &c.

This is a period distinguished for extraordinary occurrences, whether we contemplate the world under its larger divisions, or in respect to those smaller communities and parties, into which it is broken and divided. We have lately witnessed, with astonishment and regret, the attempts of a celebrated orator to overthrow the principles of freedom, which he had rendered himself illustrious by defending; as well as to cover with reproach the characters of those by whom, in the earlier part of life, he was most caressed and distinguished. The success of these efforts is pretty generally known, and is such as it might have been expected would have been sufficient to deter from similar attempts. But we now behold a dissenting minister coming forth to the public under the character of a flatterer of power, and an accuser of his brethren. If the splendid eloquence that adorns every part of Mr. Burke’s celebrated book cannot shelter the author from confutation, and his system from contempt, Mr. Clayton, with talents far inferior, has but little to expect in the same cause. It is not easy to conceive the motives which could impel him to publish his sermon. From his own account it should seem he was anxious to disabuse the legislature, and to convince them there are many amongst the dissenters who highly disapprove the sentiments and conduct of the more patriotic part of their brethren. How far he may be qualified from his talents or connections, as a mouth, to declare the sentiments of any considerable portion of the dissenters, I shall not pretend to decide; but shall candidly confess, there are not wanting amongst us persons who are ready upon all occasions to oppose those principles on which the very existence of our dissent is founded. Every party will have its apostates of this kind; it is our consolation, however, that their numbers are comparatively small, that they are generally considered as our reproach, and that their conduct is in a great measure the effect of necessity, as they consist almost entirely of persons who can only make themselves heard by confusion and discord. If our author wishes to persuade the legislature the friends of arbitrary power are conspicuous for their number or their rank in the dissenting interest, he has most effectually defeated his own intentions, as scarce anything could give them a meaner opinion of that party, in both these respects, than this publication of its champion. The sermon he has obtruded upon the public is filled with paradoxes of so singular a complexion, and so feebly supported, that I find it difficult to lay hold of anything in the form of argument, with sufficient steadiness for the purpose of discussion.

I shall endeavour, however, with as much distinctness as I am able, to select the fundamental principles on which the discourse rests, and shall attempt, as I proceed, to demonstrate their falsehood and danger.

Our author’s favourite maxim is the inconsistency of the Christian profession with political science, and the certain injury its spirit and temper must sustain from every kind of interference with the affairs of government. Political subjects he considers as falling within the peculiar province of the irreligious; ministers, in particular, he maintains, should ever observe, amidst the concussions of party, an entire neutrality; or if at any time they depart from their natural line of conduct, it should only be in defence of the measures of government, in allaying dissensions, and in convincing the people they are incompetent judges of their rights. These are the servile maxims that run through the whole of this extraordinary discourse; and, that I may give a kind of method to the following observations upon them, I shall show in the first place the relation Christianity bears to civil government, and its consistency with political discussion, as conducted either by ordinary Christians or ministers; in the next place, I shall examine some of the pretences on which the author founds his principles.

Editors Note: It is good to read this in conjunction with “Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God

Thomas Jefferson regarding God's Divine Will (Click to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson regarding God’s Divine Will (Click to enlarge)

From Alex De Tocqueville who came to America in the 1830’s traveling here extensively. Afterwards he wrote about his experience in volumes called Democracy in America. Have not found all the sources of the original quotes here, some are found in Herald and Presbyter – Volume 93 from 1921 and attributed to Tocqueville. I have put ? marks after those.

Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things.

In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.

Religion in America…must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom, it facilitates the use of it. Indeed, it is in this same point of view that the inhabitants of the United States themselves look upon religious belief.

I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion — for who can search the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.

In the United States, the sovereign authority is religious…there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.

In the United States, the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people…

Christianity, therefore, reigns without obstacle, by universal consent…

I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors…; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.?

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.?

America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.? Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: 1953: January-June By Library of Congres

The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other

Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts — the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims.

Section I.

On the Duty of common Christians in Relation to Civil Polity.

The momentous errors Mr. Clayton has committed appear to me to have arisen from an inattention to the proper design of Christianity, and the place and station it was intended to occupy. On this subject I beg the reader’s attention to the following remarks:—

1st. Christianity was subsequent to the existence and creation of man. It is an institution intended to improve and ennoble our nature, not by subverting its constitution or its powers, but by giving us a more enlarged view of the designs of Providence, and opening a prospect into eternity. As the existence of man is not to be dated from the publication of Christianity, so neither is that order of things that flows from his relation to the present world altered or impaired by that divine system of religion. Man, under the Christian dispensation, is not a new structure erected on the ruin of the former; he may rather be compared to an ancient fabric restored, when it had fallen into decay, and beautified afresh by the hand of its original founder. Since Christianity has made its appearance in the world, he has continued the same kind of being he was before, fills the same scale in the order of existence, and is distinguished by the same propensities and powers.

In short, Christianity is not a reorganization of the principles of man, but an institution for his improvement. Hence it follows, that whatever rights are founded on the constitution of human nature, cannot be diminished or impaired by the introduction of revealed religion, which occupies itself entirely on the interests of a future world, and takes no share in the concerns of the present in any other light than as it is a state of preparation and trial. Christianity is a discovery of a future life, and acquaints us with the means by which its happiness may be secured; civil government is altogether an affair of the present state, and is no more than a provision of human skill, designed to ensure freedom and tranquility during our continuance on this temporary stage of existence. Between institutions so different in their nature and their object, it is plain no real opposition can subsist; and if ever they are represented in this light, or held inconsistent with each other, it must proceed from an ignorance of their respective genius and functions. Our relation to this world demands the existence of civil government; our relation to a future renders us dependent on the aid of the Christian institution; so that in reality there is no kind of contrariety between them, but each may continue without interference in its full operation. Mr. Clayton, however, in support of his absurd and pernicious tenets, always takes care to place civil government and Christianity in opposition, whilst he represents the former as carrying in it somewhat antichristian and profane. Thus he informs us, that civil government is a stage, erected on which, man acts out his character, and shows great depravity of heart. All interference in political parties he styles an alliance with the world, a neglecting to maintain our separation, and to stand upon our own hallowed ground. There is one way, says he, by which he means to insinuate there is only one, in which you may all interfere in the government of your country, and that is by prayer to God, by whom kings reign. These passages imply that the principles of civil polity and religion must be at perpetual variance, as without this supposition, unsupported as it is in fact, they can have no force or meaning.

2nd. Mr. Clayton misleads his reader by not distinguishing the innocent entertainments or social duties of our nature from those acts of piety which fall within the immediate province of Christianity.

The employments of our particular calling, the social ties and endearments of life, the improvement of the mind by liberal inquiry, and the cultivation of science and of art, form, it is true, no part of the Christian system, for they flourished before it was known; but they are intimately connected with the happiness and dignity of the human race. A Christian should act ever consistent with his profession, but he need not always be attending to the peculiar duties of it. The profession of religion does not oblige us to relinquish any undertaking on account of its being worldly, for we must then go out of the world; it is sufficient, that everything in “which we engage is of such a nature as will not violate the principles of virtue, or occupy so much of our time or attention as may interfere with more sacred and important duties.

Mr. Clayton observes, Jesus Christ uniformly waived interesting himself in temporal affairs, especially in the concerns of the then existing government; and hence he draws a precedent to regulate the conduct of his followers. That our Saviour did not intermeddle with the policy of nations I am as willing as our author to admit; for the improvement of this, any more than any other science which might be extremely short and defective, formed no part of his mission, and was besides rendered quite unnecessary by that energy of mind which, prompted by curiosity, by our passions and our wants, will ever be abundantly sufficient to perpetuate and refine every civil or human institution. He never intended that his followers, on becoming Christians, should forget they were men, or consider themselves as idle or uninterested spectators on the great theatre of life. The author’s selection of proofs is almost always unhappy, but in no instance more than the present, when he attempts to establish his doctrine of the unlawfulness of a Christian interfering in the administration of government on our Saviour’s silence respecting it, a circumstance of itself sufficient to support a quite contrary conclusion; for if it had been his intention to discountenance the study of political subjects, he would have furnished us, without doubt, with some general regulations, some stated form of policy, which should forever preclude the necessity of such discussion; or, if that were impracticable, have let us into the great secret of living without government; or, lastly, have supplied its place by a theocracy similar to that of the Jews. Nothing of this has he accomplished, and we may therefore rest assured the political affairs of nations are suffered to remain in their ancient channels, and to be conducted as occasions may arise, by Christians or by others, without distinction.

The principles of freedom ought, in a more peculiar manner, to be cherished by Christians, because they alone can secure that liberty of conscience, and freedom of inquiry, which is essential to the proper discharge of the duties of their profession. A full toleration of religious opinions, and the protection of all parties in their respective modes of worship, are the natural operations of a free government; and everything that tends to check or restrain them, materially affects the interests of religion. Aware of the force of religious belief over the mind of man, of the generous independence it inspires, and of the eagerness with which it is cherished and maintained, it is towards this quarter the arm of despotism first directs its attacks, while through every period the imaginary right of ruling the conscience has been the earliest assumed, and the latest relinquished. Under this conviction, an enlightened Christian, when he turns his attention to political occurrences, will rejoice in beholding every advance towards freedom in the government of nations, as it forms not only a barrier to the encroachments of tyranny, but a security to the diffusion and establishment of truth. A considerable portion of personal freedom may be enjoyed, it is true, under a despotic government, or, in other words, a great part of human actions may be left uncontrolled; but with this an enlightened mind will never rest satisfied, because it is at best but an indulgence flowing from motives of policy, or the lenity of the prince, which may be at any time withdrawn by the hand that bestowed it. Upon the same principles, religious toleration may have an accidental and precarious existence in states whose policy is the most arbitrary; but, in such a situation, it seldom lasts long, and can never rest upon a secure and permanent basis, disappearing for the most part along with those temporary views of interest or policy, on which it was founded. The history of every age will attest the truth of this observation.

Mr. Clayton, in order to prepare us to digest his principles, tells us in the first page of his discourse, that the gospel dispensation is spiritual, the worship it enjoins simple and easy, and if liberty of conscience be granted, all its exterior order may be regarded under every kind of human government. This is very true, but it is saying no more than that the Christian worship may be always carried on, if it is not interrupted; a point, I presume, no one will contend with him. The question is, can every form of government furnish a security for liberty of conscience; or, which is the same thing, can the rights of private judgment be safe under a government whose professed principle is, that the subject has no rights at all, but is a vassal dependent on his superior lord. Nor is this a futile or chimerical question; it is founded upon fact. The state to which it alludes is the condition at present of more than half the nations of Europe; and if there were no better patriots than this author, it would soon be the condition of them all. The blessings which we estimate highly we are naturally eager to perpetuate, and whoever is acquainted with the value of religious freedom, will not be content to suspend it on the clemency of a prince, the indulgence of ministers, or ,.he liberality of bishops, if ever such a thing existed; he will never think it secure till it has a constitutional basis; nor even then, till by the general spread of its principles, every individual becomes its guarantee, and every arm ready to be lifted up in its defence. Forms of policy may change, or they may survive the spirit that produced them; but when the seeds of knowledge have been once sown, and have taken root in the human mind, they will advance with a steady growth, and even flourish in those alarming scenes of anarchy and confusion, in which the settled order and regular machinery of government are wrecked and disappear.

Christianity, we see, then, instead of weakening our attachment to the principles of freedom, or withdrawing them from our attention, renders them doubly dear to us, by giving us an interest in them, proportioned to the value of those religious privileges which they secure and protect.

Our author [Clayton] endeavours to cast reproach on the advocates for liberty, by attempting to discredit their piety, for which purpose he assures us, to be active in this cause is disreputable, and brings the reality of our religion into just suspicion. Who are the persons, he asks, that embark? Are they the spiritual, humble, and useful teachers, who travail in birth, till Christ be formed in the hearts of their hearers? No. They are philosophical opposers of the grand peculiarities of Christianity. It is of little consequence of what descriptions of persons the friends of freedom consist, provided their principles are just, and their arguments well founded; but here, as in other places, the author displays an utter ignorance of facts. Men who know no age but their own, must draw their precedents from it; or, if Mr. Clayton had glanced only towards the history of England, he must have remembered, that in the reigns of Charles the First and Second, the chief friends of freedom were the puritans, of whom many were republicans, and the remainder zealously attached to a limited monarchy [i.e. Limited Government]. It is to the distinguished exertions of this party we are in a great measure indebted for the preservation of our free and happy constitution. In those distracted and turbulent times which preceded the restoration of Charles the Second, the puritans, who to a devotion the most fervent united an eager attachment to the doctrines of grace, as they are commonly called, displayed on every occasion a love of freedom, pushed almost to excess; whilst the cavaliers, their opponents, who ridiculed all that was serious, and, if they had any religion at all, held sentiments directly repugnant to the tenets of Calvin, were the firm supporters of arbitrary power. If the unitarians, then, are at present distinguished for their zeal in the cause of freedom, it cannot be imputed to any alliance between their religious and political opinions, but to the conduct natural to a minority, who, attempting bold innovations, and maintaining sentiments very different from those which are generally held, are sensible they can only shelter themselves from persecution and reproach, and gain an impartial hearing from the public, by throwing down the barriers of prejudice, and claiming an unlimited freedom of thought.

4th. Though Christianity does not assume any immediate direction in the affairs of government, it inculcates those duties, and recommends that spirit, which will ever prompt us to cherish the principles of freedom. It teaches us to check every selfish passion, to consider ourselves as parts of a great community, and to abound in all the fruits of an active benevolence. The particular operation of this principle will be regulated by circumstances as they arise, but our obligation to cultivate it is clear and indubitable. As this author does not pretend that the nature of a government has no connection with the felicity of those who are the subjects of it, he cannot without the utmost inconsistence deny, that to watch over the interests of our fellow creatures in this respect is a branch of the great duty of social benevolence. If we are bound to protect a neighbour, or even an enemy, from violence, to give him raiment when he is naked, or food when he is hungry, much more ought we to do our part toward the preservation of a free government; the only basis on which the enjoyment of these blessings can securely rest. He who breaks the fetters of slavery, and delivers a nation from thraldom, forms, in my opinion, the noblest comment on the great law of love, whilst he distributes the greatest blessing which man can receive from man; but next to that is the merit of him, who in times like the present, watches over the edifice of public liberty, repairs its foundations, and strengthens its cement, when he beholds it hastening to decay.

It is not in the power of every one, it is true, to benefit his age or country, in this distinguished manner, and accordingly it is nowhere expressly commanded; but where this ability exists, it is not diminished by our embracing Christianity, which consecrates every talent to the public good. On whomsoever distinguished endowments are bestowed, as Christians we ought to rejoice when, instead of being wasted in vain or frivolous pursuits, we behold them employed on objects of the greatest general concern; amongst which those principles of freedom will ever be reckoned, which determine the destiny of nations, and the collective felicity of the human race.

5th. Our author [Clayton] expresses an ardent desire for the approach of that period when all men will be Christians. I have no doubt that this event will take place, and rejoice in the prospect of it; but whenever it arrives, it will be fatal to Mr. Clayton’s favourite principles; for the professors of Christianity must then become politicians, as the wicked, on whom he at present very politely devolves the business of government, will be no more: or, perhaps he indulges a hope, that even then, there will be a sufficient number of sinners left to conduct political affairs, especially as wars will then cease, and social life be less frequently disturbed by rapine and injustice. It will still, however, be a great hardship, that a handful of the wicked should rule innumerable multitudes of the just, and cannot fail, according to our present conceptions, to operate as a kind of check on piety and virtue. How Mr. Clayton will settle this point I cannot pretend to say, except he imagines men will be able to subsist without any laws or civil regulations, or intends to revive the long-exploded tradition of Papias [Bishop of Hierapolis, and author of the Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord in five books], respecting the personal reign.

Had Christianity been intended only for the benefit of a few, or as the distinction of a small fraternity, there might have been some pretense for setting its profession in opposition to human policy, since it might then have been conducted without their interference; but a religion which is formed for the whole world, and will finally be embraced by all its inhabitants, can never be clogged with any such impediment as would render it repugnant to the social existence of mankind.

Section II.

On the Duty of Ministers in Respect to Civil Polity.

Mr. Clayton is extremely severe upon those of his brethren, who, forsaking the quiet duties of their profession as he styles them, have dared to interfere in public affaire. This he considers a most flagrant offence, an alarming departure from their proper province; and in the fulness of his rage he heaps upon them every epithet which contempt or indignation can suggest; calls them meddling, convivial, political ministers, devoid of all seriousness and dignity. It is rather extraordinary, this severe correction should be administered by a man who is, at that moment, guilty of the offence he is chastising; reproaches political preachers in a political sermon; ridicules theories of government, and at the same time advances one of his own, a most wretched one indeed, but delivered in a tone the most arrogant and decisive. It is not political discussion then, it seems, that has ruffled the gentle serenity of our author’s temper; for he too, we see, can bend, when it pleases him, from his spiritual elevation, and let fall his oracular responses on the duty of subjects and of kings. But the persons on whom he denounces his anathemas have presumed to adopt a system of politics inconsistent with his own, and it is less his piety than his pride that is shocked and offended. Instead of submitting to be molded by any adept in cringes, and posture-master of servility, they have dared to assume the bold and natural port of freemen.

It will be unnecessary to say much on the duty of ministers, in respect to political affairs, as many of the reflections which this subject would suggest have been already advanced under a former head. A few considerations, however, present themselves here, to which I shall beg the reader’s attention.

The duties of the ministerial character, it will on all hands be confessed, are of a nature the most sacred and important. To them should be directed the first and chief attention of every person who sustains it, and whatever is found to interfere with these momentous engagements, should be relinquished as criminal and improper. But there is no profession which occupies the mind so fully as not to leave many intervals of leisure, in which objects that lie out of its immediate province will have a share of our attention; and I see not why these periods of recess may not be employed with as much dignity and advantage, in acquiring an acquaintance with the principles of government, as wasted in frivolous amusements, or an inactive indolence. Mr. Clayton, with his usual confidence, lays it down as a maxim, that the science of politics cannot be cultivated without a neglect of ministerial duties; and one would almost be tempted to suppose he had published his sermon as a confirmation of this remark; for a more striking example of political ignorance in a teacher of religion, has scarcely ever been exhibited. As far, therefore, as the preacher himself is concerned, the observation will be admitted in its full force; but he has surely no right to make his own weakness the standard of another’s strength.

Political science, as far as it falls under our present contemplation, may be considered in two points of view. It may either intend a discussion of the great objects for which governments are formed, or it may intend a consideration of the means which may be employed, and the particular contrivances that may be fallen upon to accomplish those objects. For example, in vindicating the revolution of France, two distinct methods may be pursued with equal propriety and success. It may be defended upon its principles against the friends of arbitrary power, by displaying the value of freedom, the equal rights of mankind, the folly and injustice of those regal or aristocratic pretensions by which those rights were invaded; accordingly, in this light it has been justified with the utmost success. Or it may be defended upon its expedients, by exhibiting the elements of government which it has composed, the laws it has enacted, and the tendency of both to extend and perpetuate that liberty which is its ultimate object. But though each of these modes of discussion fall within the province of politics, it is obvious the degree of inquiry, of knowledge, and of labour they require, differs widely. The first is a path which has been often and successfully trod, turns upon principles which are common to all times and places, and which demand little else to enforce conviction, than calm and dispassionate attention. The latter method, involving a question of expediency, not of right, would lead into a vast field of detail, would require a thorough acquaintance with the situation of persons and of things, as well as long and intimate acquaintance with human affairs. There are but few ministers who have capacity or leisure to become great practical politicians. To explore the intricacies of commercial science, to penetrate the refinements of negotiation, to determine with certainty and precision the balance of power, are undertakings, it will be confessed, which lie very remote from the ministerial department; but the principles of government, as it is a contrivance for securing the freedom and happiness of men, may be acquired with great ease.

These principles our ancestors understood well, and it would be no small shame if, in an age which boasts so much light and improvement as the present, they were less familiar to us. There is no class of men to whom this species of knowledge is so requisite, on several accounts, as dissenting ministers. The jealous policy of the establishment forbids our youth admission into the celebrated seats of learning; our own seminaries, at least till lately, were almost entirely confined to candidates for the ministry; and as on both these accounts, amongst us, the intellectual improvement of our religious teachers rises superior to that of private Christians, in a greater degree than in the national church, the influence of their opinions is wider in proportion. Disclaiming, as they do, all pretensions to dominion, their public character, their professional leisure, the habits of study and composition which they acquire, concur to point them out as the natural guardians, in some measure, of our liberties and rights. Besides, as they are appointed to teach the whole compass of social duty, the mutual obligations of rulers and subjects will of necessity fall under their notice; and they cannot explain or enforce the reasons of submission, without displaying the proper end of government, and the expectations we may naturally form from it; which, when accurately done, will lead into the very depths of political science.

There is another reason, however, distinct from any I have yet mentioned, flowing from the nature of an established religion, why dissenting ministers, above all men, should be well skilled in the principles of freedom. Wherever, as in England, religion is established by law with splendid emoluments and dignities annexed to its profession, the clergy, who are candidates for these distinctions, will ever be prone to exalt the prerogative, not only in order to strengthen the arm on which they lean, but that they may the more successfully ingratiate themselves in the favour of the prince, by flattering those ambitious views and passions which are too readily entertained by persons possessed of supreme power. The boasted alliance between church and state, on which so many encomiums [Tributes: speeches or pieces of writing that praises someone or something highly] have been lavished, seems to have been little more than a compact between the priest and the magistrate, to betray the liberties of mankind, both civil and religious. To this the clergy, on their part at least, have continued steady, shunning inquiry, fearful of change, blind to the corruptions of government, skilful to discern the signs of the times, and eager to improve every opportunity, and to employ all their art and eloquence to extend the prerogative and smooth the approaches of arbitrary power. Individuals are illustrious exceptions to this censure; it however applies to the body, to none more than to those whose exalted rank and extensive influence determine its complexion and spirit. In this situation, the leaders of that church, in their fatal attempt to recommend and embellish a slavish system of principles, will, I trust, be ever carefully watched and opposed by those who hold a similar station amongst the dissenters; that, at all events, there may remain one asylum to which insulted freedom may retire unmolested. These considerations are sufficient to justify every dissenting minister in well-timed exertions for the public cause, and from them we may learn what opinion to entertain of Mr. Clayton’s weak and malignant invectives.

From the general strain of his discourse, it would be natural to conclude he was an enemy to every interference of ministers on political occasions; but this is not the case. Ministers, says he, may interfere as peace-makers, and by proper methods should counteract the spirit of faction raised by persons who seem born to vex the state. After having taught them to remain in a quiet neutrality, he invests them all at once with the high character of arbiters between the contending parties, without considering that an office of so much delicacy would demand a most intimate acquaintance with the pretensions of both. Ministers, it should seem, instead of declining political interference, are to become such adepts in the science of government, as to distinguish with precision the complaints of an oppressed party from the clamors of a faction, to hold the balance between the ruler and the subject with a steady hand, and to point out on every occasion, and counteract the persons who are born to vex the state. If any should demand by what means they are to furnish themselves for such extraordinary undertakings, he will learn that it is not by political investigation or inquiry this profound skill is to be attained, but by a studied inattention and neglect; of which this author, it must be confessed, has given his disciples a most edifying example in his first essay. There is something miraculous in these endowments. This battle is not to the strong, nor these riches to men of understanding. Our author goes a step farther, for when he is in the humour for concessions no man can be more liberal. So far as revolutions, says he, are parts of God’s plan of government, a Christian is not to hinder such changes in states as promise an increase of happiness to mankind. But nowhere in the New Testament can a Christian find countenance in becoming a forward active man in regenerating the civil constitutions of nations. A Christian is not to oppose revolutions, as far as they are parts of God’s plan of government. The direction which oracles afford has ever been complained of for its obscurity; and this of Mr. Clayton, though no doubt it is fraught with the profoundest wisdom, would have been more useful, had it furnished some criterion to distinguish those transactions which are parts of God’s plan of government. We have hitherto imagined the elements of nature, and the whole agency of man, are comprehended within the system of Divine Providence; but, as in this sense everything becomes a part of the divine plan, it cannot be his meaning. Perhaps he means to confine the phrase of God’s plan of government to that portion of human agency which is consistent with the divine will and promises, or, as he says, with an increase of happiness to mankind. If this should be his intention, the sentiment is just, but utterly subversive of the purpose for which it is introduced, as it concurs with the principle of all reformers in leaving us no other direction in these cases than reason and experience, determined in their exertions by a regard to the general happiness of mankind. On this basis the wildest projectors profess to erect their improvements. On this principle, too, do the dissenters proceed, when they call for a repeal of the test act, when they lament the unequal representation of parliament, when they wish to see a period to ministerial corruption, and to the encroachments of an hierarchy equally servile and oppressive; and thus, by one unlucky concession, this author has admitted the ground-work of reform in its fullest extent, and has demolished the whole fabric he was so eager to rear. He must not be offended if principles thus corrupt, and thus feebly supported, should meet with the contempt they deserve, but must seek his consolation in his own adage, as the correction of folly is certainly apart of God’s plan of government. The reader can be at no loss to determine whom the author intends by a busy active man in regenerating the civil constitutions of nations. The occasion of the sermon, and complexion of its sentiments, concur in directing us to Dr. Priestley, a person whom the author [Clayton] seems to regard with a more than odium theologicum [i.e. theological hatred], with a rancor exceeding the measure even of his profession. The religious tenets of Dr. Priestley appear to me erroneous in the extreme; but I should be sorry to suffer any difference of sentiment to diminish my sensibility to virtue, or my admiration of genius. From him the poisoned arrow will fall pointless. His enlightened and active mind, his unwearied assiduity, the extent of his researches, the light he has poured into almost every department of science, will be the admiration of that period, when the greater part of those who have favoured, or those who have opposed him, will be alike forgotten. Distinguished merit will ever rise superior to oppression, and will draw luster from reproach. The vapours which gather round the rising sun, and follow it in its course, seldom fail at the close of it to form a magnificent theatre for its reception, and to invest with variegated tints, and with a softened effulgence, the luminary which they cannot hide. [NOTE: Whether or not the beautiful passage in the text was suggested by a floating vague recollection of the following lines of Pope, or were an avowed imitation of them, cannot now be determined. But be this as it may, I think it will be readily admitted that the rhythm and harmony of the passage in prose are decidedly superior to those in the lines of the poet:—

“Envy will merit, as its shade, pursue,
But, like a shadow, prove the substance true:
For envied wit, like Sol [the Sun] eclips’d, makes known
Th’ opposing body’s grossness, not its own.
When first that sun too powerful beams displays,
It draws up vapours which obscure its rays:
But e’en those clouds at last adorn its way,
Reflect new glories, and augment the day.”—Editor.]

It is a pity, however, our author [Clayton], in reproaching characters so illustrious, was not a little more attentive to facts; for unfortunately for him, Dr. Priestley has not in any instance displayed that disaffection to government with which he has been charged so wantonly. In his Lectures on History, and his Essay on Civil Government, which of all his publications fall most properly within the sphere of politics, he has delineated the British constitution with great accuracy, and has expressed his warm admiration of it as the best system of policy the sagacity of man has been able to contrive. In his Familiar Letters to the Inhabitants of Birmingham, a much later work, where the seeds of that implacable dislike were scattered which produced the late riots, he has renewed that declaration, and has informed us, that he has been pleasantly ridiculed by his friends as being an unitarian in religion, and a trinitarian in politics. He has lamented, indeed, in common with every enlightened citizen, the existence of certain corruptions, which, being gradually introduced into the constitution, have greatly impaired its vigour; but in this he has had the honour of being followed by the prime minister himself, who began his career by proposing a reform in parliament, merely to court popularity it is true, at a time when it would not have been so safe for him to insult the friends of freedom after having betrayed their interest, as he has since found it.

Dr. Priestley has, moreover, defended with great ability and success the principles of our dissent, exposing, as the very nature of the undertaking demands, the folly and injustice of all clerical usurpations; and on this account, if on no other, he is entitled to the gratitude of his brethren. In addition to this catalogue of crimes, he has ventured to express his satisfaction on the liberation of France; an event which, promising a firmer establishment to liberty than any recorded in the annals of the world, is contemplated by the friends of arbitrary power throughout every kingdom of Europe with the utmost concern. These are the demerits of Dr. Priestley, for which this political astrologist and sacred calculator of nativities pronounces upon him that he is born to vex the state. The best apology candour can suggest, will be to hope Mr. Clayton has never read Dr. Priestley’s political works; a conjecture somewhat confirmed from his disclaiming all attention to political theories, and from the extreme ignorance he displays through the whole of his discourse on political topics. Still it is to be wished he would have condescended to understand what he means to confute, if it had been only to save himself the trouble and disgrace of this publication.

The manner in which he speaks of the Birmingham riots, and the cause to which he traces them, are too remarkable to pass unnoticed.

When led, says he, speaking of the sufferers, by officious zeal, from the quiet duties of their profession into the Senator’s province: unhallowed boisterous passions in others, like their own, God may permit to chastise them. For my own part I was some time before I could develope this extraordinary passage; but I now find the darkness in which it is veiled is no more than that mystic sublimity which has always tinctured the language of those who are appointed to interpret the counsels of heavens.

I would not have Mr. Clayton deal too freely in these visions, lest the fire and illumination of the prophet should put out the reason of the man, a caution the more necessary in the present instance, as it glimmers so feebly already in several parts of his discourse, that its extinction would not be at all extraordinary. We are, no doubt, much obliged to him for letting us into a secret we could never have learned any other way. We thank him heartily for informing us that the Birmingham riots were a judgment; and, as we would wish to be grateful for such an important communication, we would whisper in his ear in return, that he should be particularly careful not to suffer this itch of prophesying to grow upon him, men being extremely apt, in this degenerate age, to mistake a prophet for a madman, and to lodge them in the same place of confinement. The best use he could make of his mantle would be to bequeath it to the use of posterity, as for the want of it I am afraid they will be in danger of falling into some very unhappy mistakes. To their unenlightened eyes it will appear a reproach, that in the eighteenth century, an age that boasts its science and improvement, the first philosopher in Europe, of a character unblemished, and of manners the most mild and gentle, should be torn from his family, and obliged to flee an outcast and a fugitive from the murderous bands of a frantic rabble; but when they learn that there were not wanting teachers of religion, who secretly triumphed in these barbarities, they will pause for a moment, and imagine they are reading the history of Goths or of Vandals. Erroneous as such a judgment must appear in the eyes of Mr. Clayton, nothing but a ray of his supernatural light could enable us to form a more just decision. Dr. Priestley and his friends are not the first that have suffered in a public cause; and when we recollect, that those who have sustained similar disasters have been generally conspicuous for a superior sanctity of character, what but an acquaintance with the counsels of heaven can enable us to distinguish between these two classes of sufferers, and, whilst one are the favourites of God, to discern in the other the objects of his vengeance? When we contemplate this extraordinary endowment, we are no longer surprised at the superiority he assumes through the whole of his discourse, nor at that air of confusion and disorder which appears in it; both of which we impute to his dwelling so much in the insufferable light, and amidst the coruscations and flashes of the divine glory; a sublime but perilous situation, described with great force and beauty by Mr. Gray:

“He passed the flaming bounds of place and time:
The living throne, the sapphire blaze,
Where angels tremble while they gaze.
He saw; but blasted with excess of light,
Closed his eyes in endless night”

Section III.

On the Pretenses Mr. Clayton advances in favour of his Principles.

Having endeavoured to justify the well-timed exertions of Christians and of ministers, in the cause of freedom, it may not be improper to examine a little more particularly under what pretences Mr. Clayton presumes to condemn this conduct.

The first that naturally presents itself, is drawn from those passages of Scripture in which the design of civil government is explained, and the duty of submission to civil authority is enforced. That on which the greatest stress is laid, is found in the thirteenth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power but of God: the powers which be, are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, shall receive unto themselves damnation. The Ruler is the Minister of God to thee for good. But if thou doest that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain. Wherefore ye must be subject, not only for wrath, but conscience sake.” This passage, which, from the time of Sir Robert Filmer to the present day, has been the stronghold of the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance, will admit of an easy solution, by attending to the nature of Christianity, and the circumstances of its professors, during the period in which it was written. The extraordinary privileges and dignity conferred by the Gospel on believers, must have affected the minds of the first Christians, just emerging from the shades of ignorance, and awakened to new hopes, with singular force. Feeling an elevation to which they were strangers before, and looking down upon the world around them as the vassals of sin and Satan, they might be easily tempted to imagine the restraint of laws could not extend to persons so highly privileged, and that it was ignominious in the free men of Jesus Christ to submit to the yoke of idolatrous rulers. Natural to their situation as these sentiments might be, none could be conceived more detrimental to the credit and propagation of a rising religion, or more likely to draw down upon its professors the whole weight of the Roman Empire, with which they were in no condition to contend. In this situation, it was proper for the apostle to remind Christians, their religion did not interfere with the rights of princes, or diminish their obligation to attend to those salutary regulations which are established for the protection of innocence and the punishment of the guilty. That this only was the intention of the writer, may be inferred from the considerations he adduces to strengthen his advice. He does not draw his arguments for submission from anything peculiar to the Christian system, as he must have done, had he intended to oppose that religion to the natural rights of mankind, but from the utility and necessity of civil restraints.

“The Ruler is the Minister of God to thee for good,” is the reason he urges for submission. Civil government, as if he had said, is a salutary institution, appointed to restrain and punish outrage and injustice, but exhibiting to the quiet and inoffensive nothing of which they need to be afraid. “If thou doest that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain.” He is an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Christians were not to consider themselves privileged above their fellow-citizens, as their religion conferred upon them no civil immunities, but left them subject to all the ties and restraints, whatever they were, which could be justly imposed by the civil power on any other part of mankind.

The limits of every duty must be determined by its reasons, and the only ones assigned here, or that can be assigned for submission to civil authority, are its tendency to do good; wherever therefore this shall cease to be the case, submission becomes absurd, having no longer any rational view. But at what time this evil shall be judged to have arrived, or what remedy it may be proper to apply, Christianity does not decide, but leaves to be determined by an appeal to natural reason and right. By one of the strangest misconceptions in the world, when we are taught that Christianity does not bestow upon us any new rights, it has been thought to strip us of our old; which is just the same as it would be to conclude, because it did not first furnish us with hands or feet, it obliges us to cut them off.

Under every form of government, that civil order which affords protection to property, and tranquillity to individuals, must be obeyed; and I have no doubt, that before the revolution in France, they who are now its warmest admirers, had they lived there, would have yielded a quiet submission to its laws, as being conscious the social compact can only be considered as dissolved by an expression of the general will. In the mean time, they would have continued firm in avowing the principles of freedom, and by the diffusion of political knowledge, have endeavoured to train and prepare the minds of their fellow-citizens for accomplishing a change so desirable.

It is not necessary to enter into a particular examination of the other texts adduced by Mr. Clayton in support of his sentiments, as this in Romans is by much the most to his purpose, and the remarks that have been made upon it may, with very little alteration, be applied to the rest. He refers us to the second chapter of the first Epistle of Peter. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him, for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well.” Here it is sufficient to remark, all that can be inferred from this passage is, that Christians are not to hold themselves exempt from the obligation of obedience on account of their religion, but are to respect legislation as far as it is found productive of benefit in social life.

With still less propriety, he urges the first of Timothy, where, in the second chapter, we are “exhorted to supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.” I am unacquainted with any who refuse a compliance with this apostolical admonition, except the nonjurors may be reckoned of this class, whose political sentiments are of a piece with our author’s.

Whilst he pleads with so much eagerness for the duty of passive obedience, we are not, however, to suppose, he wishes to extend it to all mankind. He admits, that society, under the wisest regulations, will degenerate, and there will be periods when associated bodies must be resolved again into their first principles. All resistance to authority, every revolution, is not in his own opinion criminal; it is Christians only, who are never to have a share in these transactions, never to assert their rights. With what different sentiments did the apostle of the Gentiles contemplate his character, when disdaining to accept a clandestine dismission from an unjust imprisonment, he felt a glow of indignant pride burn upon his cheek, and exclaimed with a Roman energy, “I was free born!”

2nd. Another reason which this author [Clayton] assigns for a blind deference to civil authority is, that Christianity is distinct from and independent of human legislation. This principle no protestant dissenter will be inclined to question, but, instead of lending any support to the system of passive obedience, it will overturn it from its foundation; for if religion be really distinct from, and independent of, human legislation, it cannot afford any standard to ascertain its limits; as the moment it is applied to this purpose, it ceases to be a thing distinct and independent. For example, it is not doubted that a Christian may lawfully engage in trade or commerce; but if it be asked why his profession does not interfere with such an undertaking, the proper reply will be, religion is a thing distinct and independent. Should it be again inquired, why a Christian may become a trader, yet must not commit a theft, we should answer, that this latter action is not a thing distinct, or independent of religion, but falls immediately under its cognizance, as a violation of its laws. Thus it appears, that whatever portion of human conduct is really independent of religion, is lawful for that very reason, and can then only become criminal or improper, when it is suffered to entrench upon more sacred or important duties. The truth is, between two institutions, such as civil government and religion, which have a separate origin and end, no opposition can subsist, but in the brain of a distempered enthusiast.

The author’s [Clayton’s] text confutes his doctrine, for had our Saviour annihilated our rights, he would have become a judge and divider over us, in the worst sense, if that could be said to be divided which is taken away. When any two institutions are affirmed to be distinct and independent, it can only mean, they do not interfere; but that must be a genius of no common size, who can infer from religion not interfering with the rights of mankind, that they cease to be, or that the patrimony, over which our Lord declined to exercise any authority, he has scattered and destroyed.

3rd. Similar to the last I have considered, is that pretence for excluding Christians from any concern in political affairs, taken from the conduct of our Saviour. Mr. Clayton tells us, that Christ uniformly waived interesting himself in the concerns of the then existing government; and to the same purpose he afterwards remarks, he always declined the functions of a civil magistrate.

The most careless reader will remark, the whole weight of this argument rests upon a supposition that it is unlawful for a Christian to sustain any other character in civil life, than that in which our Saviour literally appeared; a notion as extravagant as was ever nourished in the brain of the wildest fanatic. Upon this principle, he must have gone through such a succession of offices, and engaged in such an endless variety of undertakings, that in place of thirty-three years, he needed to have lived thirty-three centuries. On this ground the profession of physic is unlawful for a Christian, because our Lord never set up a dispensary; and that of Law, because he never pleaded at the bar. Next to the weakness of advancing such absurdity, is that of confuting it.

The author [Clayton], in proof of his political tenets, appeals to the devotional feelings of his hearers. “I ask you,” says he, “who make conscience of entering into your closets, and shutting your doors, and praying to your Father which seeth in secret; what subjects interest you most then? Are not factious passions hushed; the undue heat you felt in political disputation remembered with sorrow?” He must be at a great loss for argument, who will have recourse to such loose and flimsy declamation. When engaged in devout admiration of the Supreme Being, every other object will be lost in the comparison; but this, though the noblest employment of the mind, was never intended to shut out all other concerns.

The affections which unite us to the world have a large demand upon us, and must succeed in their turn. If everything is to be deemed criminal that does not interest the attention in the very moment of worship, political concerns are not the only ones to be abandoned, but every undertaking of a temporal nature, all labour and ingenuity must cease. Science herself must shroud her light. These are notions rather to be laughed at than confuted, for their extravagance will correct itself. Every attempt that has been made to rear religion on the ruins of nature, or to render it subversive of the economy of life, has hitherto proved unsuccessful, whilst the institutions that have flowed from it are now scarcely regarded in any other light than as humiliating monuments of human weakness and folly. The natural vigour of the mind, when it has once been opened by knowledge, and turned towards great and interesting objects, will always overpower the illusions of fanaticism; or, could Mr. Clayton’s principles be carried into effect, we should soon behold men returning again to the state of savages, and a more than monkish barbarity and ignorance would overspread the earth. That abstraction from the world it is his purpose to recommend, is in truth as inconsistent with the nature of religion, as with the state and condition of man; for Christianity does not propose to take us out of the world, but to preserve us from the pollutions which are in it.

It is easy to brand a passion for liberty with the odious [hateful] epithet of faction; no two things, however, can be more opposite. Faction is a combination of a few to oppress the liberties of many; the love of freedom is the impulse of an enlightened and presiding spirit, ever intent upon the welfare of the community, or body to which it belongs, and ready to give the alarm, when it beholds any unlawful conspiracy formed, whether it be of rulers or of subjects, with a design to oppress it. Every Tory upholds a faction; every Whig, as far as he is sincere and well informed, is a friend to the equal liberties of mankind. Absurd as the preacher’s appeal must appear, on such an occasion, to the devout feelings of his hearers, we have no need to decline it. In those solemn moments, factious passions cannot indeed be too much hushed, but that warmth which animates the patriot, which glowed in the breast of a Sidney or a Hampden, was never chilled, or diminished, we may venture to affirm, in its nearest approaches to the uncreated splendour; and if it mingled with their devotion at all, could not fail to infuse into it a fresh force and vigour, by drawing them into a closer assimilation to that great Being, who appears under the character of the avenger of the oppressed, and the friend and protector of the human race.

Lastly, the author [Clayton] endeavours to discredit the principles of freedom, by holding them up as intimately connected with the unitarian heresy. “We are not to be surprised,” he says, “if men who vacate the rule of faith in Jesus Christ, should be defective in deference and in obedient regards to men who are raised to offices of superior influence, for the purposes of civil order and public good.” The persons he has in view are the unitarians, and that my reader may be in full possession of this most curious argument, it may be proper to inform him, that an unitarian is a person who believes Jesus Christ had no existence till he appeared on our earth, whilst a trinitarian maintains, that he existed with the Father from all eternity. What possible connection can he discern between these opinions and the subject of government?

In order to determine whether the supreme power should be vested in king, lords, and commons, as in England, in an assembly of nobles, as in Venice, or in a house of representatives, as in America or France, must we first decide upon the person of Christ? I should imagine we might as well apply to astronomy first, to learn whether the earth flattens at the poles. He explains what he means by vacating the rule of faith in Christ, when he charges the unitarians with a partial denial at least, of the inspiration of the Scripture, particularly the Epistles of St. Paul. But however clear the inspiration of the Scriptures may be, as no one pleads for the inspiration of civil governors, the deference which is due to the first, as coming from God, can be no reason for an unlimited submission to the latter. Yet this is Mr. Clayton’s argument, and it runs thus. Every opposition to Scripture is criminal, because it is inspired, and therefore every resistance to temporal rulers is criminal, though they are not inspired.

The number of passages in Paul’s Epistles which treat of civil government is small; the principal of them have been examined, and whether they are inspired or not, has not the remotest relation to the question before us. The inspiration of an author adds weight to his sentiments, but makes no alteration in his meaning; and unless Mr. Clayton can show that Paul inculcates unlimited submission, the belief of his inspiration can yield no advantage to his cause. Amongst those parties of Christians who have maintained the inspiration of the Scriptures in its utmost extent, the number of such as have inferred from them the doctrine of passive obedience has been extremely small; it is, therefore, ridiculous to impute the rejection of this tenet by unitarians to a disbelief of plenary inspiration. It behooves Mr. Clayton to point out, if he is able, any one of the unitarians who ever imagined that Paul means to recommend unlimited obedience; for till that is the case, it is plain their political opinions cannot have arisen from any contempt of that apostle’s authority.

The knowledge and study of the Scriptures, far from favouring the pretensions of despotism, have almost ever diminished it, and been attended with a proportional increase of freedom. The union of Protestant princes preserved the liberties of the Germanic body when they were in danger of being overwhelmed by the victorious arm of Charles the Fifth; yet a veneration for the Scriptures, at a time when they had almost fallen into oblivion, and an appeal to their decisions in all points, was the grand characteristic of the new religion. If we look into Turkey, we shall find the least of that impatience under restraints which Mr. Clayton laments, of any place in the world, though Paul and his epistles are not much studied there.

There are not wanting reasons, which at first view, might induce us to conclude unitarianism was less favourable to the love of freedom than almost any other system of religious belief. If any party of Christians were ever free from the least tincture of enthusiasm, it is the unitarian; yet that passion has by every philosopher been judged friendly to liberty, and to its influence, though perhaps improperly, some of its most distinguished exertions have been ascribed. Hume and Bolingbroke, who were atheists, leaned towards arbitrary power. Owen, Howe, Milton, Baxter, some of the most devout and venerable characters that ever appeared, were warmly attached to liberty, and held sentiments on the subject of government as free and unfettered as Dr. Priestley. Thus every pretence for confounding the attachment to freedom with the sentiments of a religious party, is most abundantly confuted both from reason and from fact. The zeal unitarians have displayed in defence of civil and religious liberty, is the spirit natural to a minority, who are well aware they are viewed by the ecclesiastical powers with an unparalleled malignity and rancor. Let the dissenters at large remember they too are a minority, a great minority, and that they must look for their security from the same quarter, not from the compliments of bishops, or presents from maids of honour. [NOTE: Some of my readers perhaps need to be informed that I here allude to Mr. Martin, who, for similar services to those Mr. Clayton is now performing, has been considerably caressed by certain bishops, who have condescended to notice and to visit him. I think we do not read that Judas had any acquaintance with the high priests till he came to transact business with them.]

To abandon principles which the best and most enlightened men have in all ages held sacred, which the dissenters in particular have rendered themselves illustrious by defending, which have been sealed and consecrated by the blood of our ancestors, for no other reason than that the unitarians chance to maintain them, would be a weakness of which a child might be ashamed! Whoever may think fit to take up the gauntlet iu the Socinian controversy will have my warmest good wishes; but let us not employ those arms against each other which were given us for our common defence.

Section IV.

On the Test Act.

Amidst all the wild eccentricities which, abounding in every part of this extraordinary publication, naturally diminish our wonder at anything such a writer may advance, I confess I am surprised at his declaring his wish for the continuance of the Test Act. This law, enacted in the latter end of the reign of Charles the Second, to secure the nation from popery, when it stood upon the brink of that precipice, is continued now that the danger no longer exists which first occasioned it, for the express purpose of preserving the church from the inroads of dissenters. That church, it must be remembered, existed for ages before it received any such protection; yet it is now the vogue to magnify its importance to that degree, that one would imagine it was its sole prop, whose removal would draw the whole fabric after it, or at least make it totter to its base. Whether these apprehensions were really entertained by the clergy who gave the signal for the commencement of hostilities on a late occasion, or whether they were only impelled by that illiberal tincture and fixed antipathy to all who differ from them, which hath ever marked their character, may be doubted; but to behold a dissenting minister joining with them in an unnatural warfare against his brethren, is a phenomenon so curious, that it prompts us to inquire into its cause. Let us hear his reasons. He and many others were convinced, he tells us, ” that some of the persons who applied “for the repeal were influenced by enmity against the doctrinal “articles of the established church, and they could not sacrifice “their pious regard to truth, though in a church they had separated from, to the policy of men, who, with respect to God our Saviour, only consult how they may cast him down from his Excellency.” When we hear the clergy exclaim that their church is in danger, we pretty well understand what they mean; they speak broad, as Mr. Burke says, and intend no more than that its emoluments are endangered; but when a serious dissenter expresses his pious regard to the doctrines of the church, it is the truth of those articles he must be supposed to have in view. Let us consider for a moment what advantage the Test Act is capable of yielding them. All those who qualify for civil offices, by a submission to this law, consist of two classes of people; they are either persons who are attached to the articles of the church, from whom, therefore, no danger could accrue; or they are persons who have signified their assent to doctrines which they inwardly disapprove, and who have qualified themselves for trust by a solemn act of religious deception. It is this latter class alone, it should be remembered, whom the Test Act can at all influence, and thus the only security this celebrated law can afford the articles of the church, is founded in a flagrant violation of truth in the persons who become their guarantees. Every attempt that has been made to uphold religion by the civil arm, has reflected disgrace upon its authors; but of all that are recorded in the history of the world, perhaps this is the most absurd in its principle, and the least effectual in its operation. For the truth of sacred mysteries in religion, it appeals to the most corrupt principles of the human heart, and to those only; for no one can be tempted by the Test Act to profess an attachment to the doctrines of the church, till he has been already allured by the dignity or emolument of a civil office. By compelling all who exercise any function in the state from the person who aspires to its highest distinctions, to those who fill the meanest offices in it, to profess that concurrence in religious opinions which is known never to exist, it is adapted, beyond any other human invention, to spread amongst all orders of men a contempt for sacred institutions, to enthrone hypocrisy, and reduce deception to a system! The truth of any set of opinions can only be perceived by evidence; but what evidence can anyone derive from the mere mechanical action of receiving bread and wine at the hands of a parish priest? He who believes them already needs not to be initiated by any such ceremony; and by what magic touch those simple elements are to convert the unbeliever, our author, who is master of so many secrets, has not condescended to explain. He will not pretend to impute the first spread of these doctrines in the infancy of the Christian religion, or their revival at the Reformation, to any such means, since he imagines he can trace them in the New Testament. It is strange if that evidence, which was powerful enough to introduce them where they were unknown, is not sufficient to uphold them where they are already professed and believed. At least, the Test Act, it must be confessed, has yielded them no advantage, for they have been controverted with more acrimony, and admitted by a smaller number of persons, since that law was enacted, than in any period preceding.

Were the removal of this test to overthrow the establishment itself, a consequence at the same time in the highest degree improbable, the articles of the church, if they are true, would remain unendangered, their evidence would continue unimpaired, an appeal to the inspired writings from which they profess to be derived would be open, the liberty of discussion would be admitted in as great an extent as at present; this difference only would occur, that an attachment to them would no longer be suspected of flowing from corrupt and sinister motives. They would cease to be with the clergy the ladder of promotion, the cant of the pulpit, the ridicule of the schools. The futility of this or any other law, as a security to religious doctrines, may be discerned from this single reflection, that in the national church its own articles have, for a length of time, been either treated with contempt, or maintained with little sincerity and no zeal; whilst amongst the dissenters, where they have had no such aids, they have found a congenial soil, and continue to flourish with vigour.

On the political complexion of this test, as it does not fall so properly within my present view, I shall content myself with remarking, that harmless as it may appear at first sight, it carries in it the seeds of all the persecutions and calamities which have ever been sustained on a religious account. It proscribes not an individual who has been convicted of a crime, but a whole party, as unfit to be trusted by the community to which they belong; and if this stigma can be justly fixed on any set of men, it ought not to stop here, or anywhere, short of the actual excision of those who are thus considered as rotten and incurable members of the political body. In annexing to religious speculation the idea of political default, the principle of this law would justify every excess of severity and rigour. If we are the persons it supposes, its indulgence is weak and contemptible; if we are of a different description, the nature of its pretensions is so extraordinary as to occasion serious alarm, and call aloud for its repeal.

Mr, Clayton, indeed, calls this, and similar laws, a restraint very prudently imposed upon those who dissent from the established religion. This restraint, however, is no less than a political annihilation, debarring them, though their talents were ever so splendid, from mingling in the counsels, or possessing any share in the administration of their country. With that natural relish for absurdity which characterizes this author, he imagines they have justly incurred this evil for dissenting from an erroneous religion.

He tells us, in the course of his sermon, that the grand “principle of separation from the church lies in the unworldly nature of our Saviour’s kingdom.” This reason for separation implies, that any attempt to blend worldly interests or policy with the constitution of a church is improper; but how could this be done more effectually than by rendering the profession of its articles a preliminary step to every kind of civil pre-eminence? Yet this abuse, which in his own estimation is so enormous as to form the great basis of separation, he wishes to perpetuate; and all things considered, hopes “that which is at rest will not be disturbed.” In another part of his discourse, he asks what temporalities has the church of Christ to expect? It is the mother of harlots, which says, “I sit a queen, and shall see no sorrow.” Would any one imagine this was the language of a man, who, in pleading for a Test Act, has rested the support of his creed on those very temporalities he affects so much to disdain, and has committed his religion to the arms of that mother of harlots to be reared and nourished! When speaking of the Test Act in the seventh page of his discourse, he thus expresses himself: “Surely the cross of Christ ought not to be insulted by persons eager to press into the temple of Mammon.” Who could treat it with more poignant severity than is couched in this declaration? Yet this is the language of a person who desires its continuance. In truth, his representations on this subject are pregnant with such contradictions, and rise above each other in so singular a gradation of absurdity, as will not be easily conceived, and perhaps hath scarce ever been equaled. At the very outset of his sermon, he declares, “Whenever the Gospel is secularized it is debased and misrepresented, and in proportion to the quantity of foreign infusions is the efficacy of this saving health diminished.” But human ingenuity would be at a loss to contrive a method of secularizing the Gospel more completely, than by rendering it the common passport of all who aspire to civil distinctions. I am really weary of exposing the wild and extravagant incoherence of such a reasoner. From a man who, professing to be the apologist of his party, betrays its interests, and exhibits its most illustrious members to reproach; who, himself a dissenter, applauds the penalties which the hierarchy has inflicted as a “prudent restraint;” who, with the utmost poignance, censures a law which he solemnly invokes the legislature to perpetuate; and proposes to secure the truths of religion, by the “profanation of its “sacraments,” by “debasing the Gospel, and insulting the cross;” anything may be expected but consistence and decency. When such an author assures us he was not impelled by vanity to publish, we may easily give him credit; but he should remember, though it may be a virtue to subdue vanity, it is base to extinguish shame. The tear which, he tells us, started from the eyes of his audience, we will hope, for their honour, was an effusion of regret, natural to his friends, on hearing him deliver sentiments which they considered as a disgrace to himself, and a calumny on his brethren. His affecting to pour contempt upon Dr. Price, whose talents and character were revered by all parties, and to hold him up as the corrupter of the dissenters, will not fail to awaken the indignation of every generous mind. Whether they were greater friends to their country, whose pride and oppression scattered the flames of discord across the Atlantic [in America], poured desolation into the colonies, dismembered the empire, and involved us in millions of debt; or the man, who, with a warning voice, endeavoured to avert those calamities; posterity will decide.

He gives us a pompous enumeration of the piety, learning, and talents of a large body of his brethren who concur with him in a disapprobation of the theological and political tenets of the unitarians. The weakness of mingling them together has been shown already; but if these great and eminent men, whom the world never heard of before, possess that zeal for their religion they pretend, let them meet their opponents on the open field of controversy, where they may display their talents and prowess to somewhat more advantage than in skulking behind a consecrated altar.

There are many particulars, in the address and sermon, of an extraordinary complexion, which I have not noticed at all, as it was not my intention to follow the author step by step, but rather to collect his scattered representations into some leading points of view. For the same reason, I make no remarks on his barbarous imagery; or his style, everywhere incoherent and incorrect, sometimes indecent, which cannot fail of disgusting every reader of taste. In a rude daubing peculiar to himself, where, in ridicule of Dr. Priestley, he has grouped together a foreigner, a ship, and cargo of drugs, he has unfortunately sketched his own likeness, except in the circumstance of the ship, with tolerable accuracy; for, without the apology of having been shipped into England, he is certainly a foreigner in his native tongue, and his publication will be allowed to be a drug.

Had he known to apply the remark with which his address commences, on the utility of accommodating instruction to the exigence of times, he would have been aware that this is not a season for drawing off the eyes of mankind from political objects. They were, in fact, never turned towards them with equal ardour, and we may venture to affirm they will long continue to take that direction. An attention to the political aspect of the world is not now the fruit of an idle curiosity, or the amusement of a dissipated and frivolous mind, but is awakened and kept alive by occurrences as various as they are extraordinary. There are times when the moral world seems to stand still; there are others when it seems impelled towards its goal with an accelerated force. The present is a period more interesting, perhaps, than any which has been known in the whole flight of time. The scenes of Providence thicken upon us so fast, and are shifted with so strange a rapidity, as if the great drama of the world were drawing to a close.[Note:*] Events have taken place of late, and revolutions have been effected, which, had they been foretold a very few years ago,, would have been viewed as visionary and extravagant; and their influence is yet far from being spent. Europe never presented such a spectacle before, and it is worthy of being contemplated with the profoundest attention by all its inhabitants. The empire of darkness and of despotism has been smitten with a stroke which has sounded through the universe. When we see whole kingdoms, after reposing for centuries on the lap of their rulers, start from their slumber, the dignity of man rising up from depression, and tyrants trembling on their thrones, who can remain entirely indifferent, or fail to turn his eye towards a theatre so august and extraordinary! These are a kind of throes and struggles of nature, to which it would be a sullenness to refuse our sympathy. Old foundations are breaking up; new edifices are rearing. Institutions which have been long held in veneration as the most sublime refinements of human wisdom and policy, which age hath cemented and confirmed, which power hath supported, which eloquence hath conspired to embellish, and opulence to enrich, are falling fast into decay. New prospects are opening on every side of such amazing variety and extent as to stretch farther than the eye of the most enlightened observer can reach.

[Note *] This glowing picture, as accurately descriptive of recent events as of those it was intended to portray, might tempt us almost to fancy that, after the revolution of a cycle or forty years, time had brought us back to the same state of things.—Editor.

Some beneficial effects appear to have taken place already, sufficient to nourish our most sanguine hope of benefits much more extensive. The mischief and folly of wars begin to be understood, and that mild and liberal system of policy adopted which has ever, indeed, been the object of prayer to the humane and the devout, but has hitherto remained utterly unknown in the cabinets of princes. As the mind naturally yields to the impression of objects which it contemplates often, we need not wonder, if, amidst events so extraordinary, the human character itself should appear to be altering and improving apace. That fond attachment to ancient institutions, and blind submission to opinions already received, which has ever checked the growth of improvement, and drawn on the greatest benefactors of mankind danger or neglect, is giving way to a spirit of bold and fearless investigation. Man seems to be becoming more erect and independent. He leans more on himself, less on his fellow-creatures. He begins to feel a consciousness in a higher degree of personal dignity, and is less enamoured of artificial distinctions. There is some hope of our beholding that simplicity and energy of character which marks his natural state, blended with the humanity, the elegance, and improvement of polished society.

The events which have already taken place, and the further changes they forbode, will open to the contemplative of every character innumerable sources of reflection. To the philosopher they present many new and extraordinary facts, where his penetration will find ample scope in attempting to discover their cause, and to predict their effects. He will have an opportunity of viewing mankind in an interesting situation, and of tracing the progress of opinion through channels it has rarely flowed in before. The politician will feel his attention powerfully awakened on seeing new maxims of policy introduced, new institutions established, and such a total alteration in the ideas of a great part of the world, as will oblige him to study the art of government as it were afresh. The devout mind will behold in these momentous changes the finger of God, and, discerning in them the dawn of that glorious period in which wars will cease, and anti-Christian tyranny shall fall, will adore that unerring wisdom whose secret operation never fails to conduct all human affairs to their proper issue, and impels the great actors on that troubled theatre to fulfill, when they least intend it, the counsels of heaven and the predictions of its prophets.

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BIOGRAPHY OF THE REV. ROBERT HALL 1764-1831

Adding this biography in preparation of adding articles written by Mr. Hall to the website in the next few days or weeks.

Rev. Robert Hall Statue This statue in Sicilian marble, standing on a high Cornish granite pedestal, was unveiled on 2 November 1871 by the sculptor, John Birnie Philip. It stands in De Montfort Square. Source: http://www.leicester.gov.uk

Rev. Robert Hall Statue This statue in Sicilian marble, standing on a high Cornish granite pedestal, was unveiled on 2 November 1871 by the sculptor, John Birnie Philip. It stands in De Montfort Square. Source: http://www.leicester.gov.uk

“Mr. Hall, has like Bishop Taylor, the eloquence of an orator, the fancy of a poet, the acuteness of a schoolman, the profoundness of a philosopher, and the piety of a saint.”—Note to Dr. Parr’s “Spital [Hospital] Sermon.”

To a devout mind, the present aspect of Christendom presents a subject of sorrowful contemplation, when it is seen split into sects, and divided into parties, each frowning defiance on the other; instead of being united into one indivisible and harmonious society. And it has been asked with some asperity, whether there be not something essentially defective in Revelation, if men can draw so many conclusions from the same premises? But the question has assuredly been put without consideration. The defect is not in Revelation, because that is like its author, fall and perfect; it lies in man, who is unable to comprehend, at present, truth in all its purity and in all its force. There is, however, a time coming, when the veil will be removed from the understandings of all men, when they shall see eye to eye, and be all of one mind, perfect in knowledge, and panting after higher degrees of holiness. Until, however, that time shall arrive, it is no doubt one of the inscrutable arrangements of God, (who plans all things after the counsel of his will,) that differences should exist. It is the same in divine, as in human knowledge; truth is elicited by discussion, and the more the principles of men are sifted, the more likely are they to become wise; provided they seek after truth with a sincere desire to find it, and with a humble dependence upon the teachings of the Spirit of God. But such, alas! is the folly of man, and so prone is the mind to dogmatize, and not to inquire, that almost all the discussions which have hitherto divided the religious world, been have carried on, not, as it appears, for the purpose of elucidating truth, but to establish certain opinions. Men have formed creeds for themselves and then gone to the bible for proofs to support them; instead of appealing to the bible first, and making the word of God the rule of conduct, and the expounder of doctrine. Such proceedings remind us of the inconceivable stupidity of those whom the prophet stigmatizes, as forsaking the fountain of living waters, to hew out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, which hold no water.

Robert Hall (2 May 1764 – 21 February 1831), the son of the Rev. Robert Hall, author of “A Help for Zion’s Travellers,” and several sermons, was born at Arnsby, in Leicestershire, where his father was a baptist minister. Early in life, the remarkable genius of Mr. Hall burst forth, so that at nine years of age, he had read through and comprehended those profound metaphysical treatises of president Edwards, on the Will, and Affections. At this early age, he was placed under the able tuition of Mr. Ryland, of Northampton, from whose care he was subsequently removed to the Bristol Institution, where his talents and attention to study, obtained the notice and particular regard of Dr. Evans the president. At seventeen years old, Mr. H. entered himself a student at King’s College, Aberdeen, where he again highly distinguished himself, by his diligent attention to study, and the ease with which he obtained the academical honours. Here he became acquainted with Sir James Mackintosh, and several other distinguished men, and was honoured by the confidence and esteem of Dr. Campbell, and the professors, whose lectures he attended.

It appears that he preached at various places, while at College, and always during the vacations. In his twentieth year he took his degree of master of arts, and shortly after became assistant to Dr. Evans, both in the academy, and in the ministry.

At this time, that awful affliction which deprived the church of his labours overtook him, and he was removed by his friends to Leicestershire; but, being sufficiently recovered, in the year 1791, he became the successor of the celebrated and erring Robert Robinson, at Cambridge. When Mr. Hall accepted the charge of this church, the state of religion was at a low ebb amongst the people—too many had imbibed the sentiments of their late pastor, and almost all possessed only the form of godliness. But soon after the settlement of Mr. Hall, genuine religion revived, the numbers of church members increased, and an ardent and growing attachment to the doctrines of vital godliness was evidenced amongst the people.

It was here that Mr. Hall commenced as author, and his first step was a bold one, proving his independence of spirit and his unconquerable aversion to slavish doctrines of any kind. That astounding event, the French revolution, had agitated all parties in England, and great was the contention, and fierce was the spirit which prevailed. Mr. John Clayton, the late minister of the Weigh House, fearing that the interests of religion were likely to be endangered by the violence of politics, published a sermon, recommending the Dissenters to abstain altogether from political discussions: this sermon contained nothing new, but much that was objectionable, for the doctrines of passive obedience, and non-resistance were unreservedly inculcated. This roused the indignation of Mr. Hall, and, in a reply, alike distinguished for the purity and eloquence of its style, he vindicated the right of the Dissenters to rise, in political discussion, by shewing that Christianity was consistent with the love of freedom.

The profound argument, and solidity of principle, which characterized this work, were never attempted to be shaken by any reply, and Mr. Hall, encouraged by the success which had attended his efforts, afterwards expanded the pamphlet into a small volume, and published it under the title of “An Apology for the Freedom of the Press.”—This ran rapidly through six editions, and did much good in removing from the Dissenters, that obloquy which had been cast upon them, as a body, for the intemperate conduct of one or two of their members. The work was highly spoken of, by the reviews, and extorted admiration even from its enemies.

During this time, the Revolution in France, which had opened with such fair prospects for that nation, and with such magnificent promises of good to others, had taken a disastrous and fatal change. The sun of freedom had scarcely risen ere it set in blood. Scenes the most portentous, and events the most appalling, were daily occurring. The absence of all religion in the church of Rome, at the time the revolution burst upon its bigoted, licentious, and infidel priests, and the prevalence of a philosophy, deadly and cheerless in its nature, added to the natural ferocity of men a tenfold vigour.—They accordingly desecrated the altar, overturned the throne, broke through the social compact, violated all the decencies and charities of life, dishonoured themselves by lusts too gross even to name—and slaughtered all who opposed their wishes. In short, they gave themselves up to all manner of wickedness; and, to crown their depravity, denied the existence of God, and wrote upon the tomb, that death was an eternal sleep!

It was not, however, to be expected that all these things could pass in France without, in some degree, affecting us. Accordingly, we find that the licentious principles and unhallowed doctrines of the French infidels reached England, and were eagerly embraced, not only by the higher classes of society, but by almost all the literary men of the time. To counteract the pernicious tendency, arising from the diffusion of such speculations, Mr. Hall preached and published his sermon on “The Influence of Modern Infidelity on Society.” This sermon instantly procured him the approbation of the wise and good of all parties, and it’s amazing popularity, no doubt, had all the effect its excellent author desired. Its power may be conceived, when it is said, that it drew down upon Mr. Hall repeated and virulent attacks, from men who had embraced the speculative opinions of Voltaire and others. Amongst more insignificant persons, Anthony Robinson, and the celebrated Godwin, both apostates, from the religion which Mr. Hall so triumphantly defended, may be named as those who attempted, but miserably failed, to answer Mr. Hall’s sermon.

In 1803, appeared the sermon, preached on the fast day at Bristol; and, shortly after its publication, Mr. Hall was again afflicted and obliged to suspend all public duty. In this lamentable state he continued some time, but under judicious treatment, his mind gradually regained its great powers, and he was invited to become the pastor of the Baptist Church at Leicester, which, after some deliberation, he accepted. At that time, genuine religion was almost extinct amongst the members, who were poor, and but few in number. The chapel would only contain about three hundred people, and it was then seldom filled, but almost immediately after Mr. Hall’s settlement, the number of members became greater, and the congregation so much increased, that it was found necessary three times to enlarge the chapel; so that now it will seat upwards of one thousand one hundred persons. Here, for upwards of twenty-five years, Mr. Hall continued to labour affectionately—loved by his flock, esteemed and honoured by the people of Leicester, and revered by the clergy and dissenting ministers in the neighborhood. In particular he became intimately acquainted with the late venerable Mr. Robinson, the vicar of St. Mary’s, and this friendship was only dissolved by his death, when Mr. Hall pronounced one of the finest and most eloquent eulogiums on his character, which the English language presents.

During his residence at Leicester, Mr. Hall published his Sermons on the Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Ministry—the Advantage of Knowledge to the lower classes.—On the death of the Princess Charlotte,—On the Holy Spirit, and all his works on Open Communion, besides several Reviews, and a new edition of his Apology.

In the year 1825, Dr. Ryland, the president of the Bristol Academy, and pastor of Broadmead Meeting, died, and Mr. Hall was unanimously chosen to succeed him in both offices. This he, for some time, declined, but at last a sense of duty to the entire connection, prevailed over private feeling, and after a struggle between pastor and people, honourable to both, Mr. H. removed, in March 1826, to Bristol, where, as in every other place where he resided, religion began to revive. This congregation is now on the increase.

It now remains for us to consider Mr. Hall both as a preacher and a writer. In the former character there is very little to remark upon. His appearance in the pulpit is good, his face is plain, but his forehead denotes great reasoning and imaginative powers. His voice is thin, and at times tremulous, and seems incapable of conveying the deep emotions of his heart. His action is very appropriate and chaste. He is powerful in prayer, his great talents, his accurate acquaintance with scripture, his knowledge of the wants of man, his clear views and deep conviction of the truth of the gospel, enable him to approach the footstool of Jehovah with meekness and confidence; with sorrow for sin, mingled with hallowed emotions of holy joy at the abounding mercies of God as displayed in the person, offices, and merits of Christ, as the redeemer of mankind.

His manner is peculiarly earnest and solemn, and tends much to impress on his hearers the preacher’s belief in the great truths upon which he dilates, while the energy with which he delivers his most splendid discourses chains down the attention of all. It appears to us impossible for the most careless and indifferent mind to remain inattentive while Mr. Hall is preaching, for although he uses no arts to gain attention, yet the exquisite variety of his language, the delicate and beautiful gleams of imagery with which his most ordinary sermons abound, are pleasing to the taste, and tend much to recommend religion to those who would revolt from its truths if presented in any other garb.

The predominant features in Mr. Hall’s printed sermons is the great imaginative power which they display;—everything seems steeped in the exhaustless beauties of his wonderful mind ; all that orators have conceived of natural or artificial beauty, or poets imagined of force, grace, and power, are there combined, and in so easy a manner as to prove that the loftiest themes, the most exquisite language, the choicest images, are those with which Mr. Hall is most familiar.

But what proves his wonderful mastery over his varied and extensive knowledge, is the clearness and simplicity of his, style, which is so forcible as to present every idea visibly to the reader, so elegant as not to be improved; abounding with imagery, classical allusions, and felicitous turns of expression, and yet the least unencumbered with its own beauty of any which has ever been written. It possesses all the idiomatic grace of Addison, the terseness of Swift, and the strength of Johnson, without the feebleness of the one, the vulgarity of the other, or the ponderosity of the third. What Johnson said of Addison’s style, may be more properly applied to Mr. Hall’s, ” Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to the volumes of Addison.”

An eminent critic of the present day, speaking of one of Mr. Hall’s sermons, says, “The diction displays an unlimited command and an exquisite choice of language; a vocabulary formed on the basis of Addison’s, but admitting whatever is classical in the richer literature of the present age, and omitting everything that is low or pedantic. The copious use of scriptural language, so eminently appropriate to theological writings, bestows upon the style of this writer an awful sanctity. The uncouthness and vulgarity of some religious authors, who are driven to employ the very words and phrases of scripture, from an ignorance of other words and phrases, and an incapacity to conceive and express a revealed truth in any form but that of the authorized version of the Bible, has co-operated with an irreligious spirit, to bring this important resource of theological eloquence into great disrepute. The skilful manner in s which it is employed by Mr. Hall, may restore its credit. Quotations and allusions, when borrowed from profane literature, are much admired. There is nothing, we think, to render them less admirable when borrowed from holy writ. If properly selected, they possess the same merit of appositeness in one case as in the other; they may be at least equal in rhetorical beauty; and the character of holiness and mystery which is peculiar to them, at once fills the imagination, and warms the heart. The same purity of taste, which appears in Mr. Hall’s choice of words, is equally apparent in the forms of expression into which they are combined. The turn of his phrases is gracefully idiomatic, disdaining the harsh and usurped authority of those grammarians, who would condemn our best writers at the tribunal of analogy, and compel us to surrender the freedom to which we have a prescriptive and immemorial claim, for the sake of an ostentatious dignity of precision.

“There is one other particular in which the style of this writer is perhaps superior to any other,—the construction of his periods, or that which corresponds in prose, to what in poetry is called the versification. In this, as in former discourses, Mr. Hall appears to have employed every elegant and harmonious form which the language admits; always gratifying, often ravishing the ear, but never cloying it;—in the midst of his richest combinations, or his simplest strains, perfectly easy and unaffected,— varying his style with every shade of his sentiment, and converting what is usually but a mechanical vehicle into an expressive and imitative music.”

As an orator, we know of no one either in the present, or at any former period, who surpasses Mr. Hall. He possesses within himself, all the genuine elements which constitute an eloquent and impassioned speaker. In imagination he is equal to Burke, and his reasoning powers place him on a level with Fox, while he excels both, in the purity and energy of his style. We are not acquainted with any oration in the whole range of literature, which is at all equal to his sermon, “On the Present Crisis.” The whole discourse abounds with the most just and patriotic sentiments imbued with Christianity. The peroration is as sublime, and as heart stirring, as any of the strains of Tyrteus.

The discourse on the Influence of Modern Infidelity is a masterpiece of reasoning, the preacher has laid bare the sources of unbelief and traced the workings of infidelity, in all its ramifications upon society, and in so doing he has presented a picture, which appalls the heart, and makes it turn with disgust from the wickedness of its species.

That on the Horrors of War, is, as a composition, not to be excelled, the author brings before the mind’s eye, scenes terrible in their nature, and proves that of all the curses which God can inflict upon man, the greatest scourge is war. It would be well for every Christian to study attentively this discourse, until he had his convictions of the unlawfulness of war, so strongly fixed in his mind as to induce him to act upon the mild and benevolent principles of his religion.

Our limits will not allow us to enumerate all Mr. Hall’s Discourses. We cannot however pass over, unnoticed, his Sermon on the death of the Princess Charlotte; this we consider to be the finest of all his Sermons, when taken as a whole. It enters into a philosophical investigation of the causes of our sorrow; ascertains why we feel more sympathy for suffering greatness than for ordinary cases; shows the instability and vanity of all earthly things, in a most powerful and affecting manner ; directs the hearer to the rock of salvation; and improves the melancholy event, by enforcing upon the reader’s attention his own mortality. The sentiments of the public fully accord with ours as to its merits, for it rapidly passed through fourteen large editions, and is still read with intense pleasure, as a most beautiful and striking composition. Besides the publications we have noticed, Mr. Hall has written several works on the term of Communion; and we rejoice to see that his truly Christian sentiments are very largely diffused. All his opponents have been unable to maintain their ground against him, and, with one exception, (that of the venerable Mr. Kinghorn) have proved that their cause is desperate indeed, when they resort to such unsociable arguments, and mix them up with personal abuse.

Mr. Hall has also contributed several articles to the Eclectic Review, two of these will be long remembered for the powerful effect they produced at the time of their appearance. We allude to the examination of the paper entitled “Zeal without Innovation,” and the “Life of Lindsay,” by Belsham. In both these Reviews Mr. Hall proved his devoted attachment to the truth of the gospel, and evidenced controversial powers of a high order. We should think that neither the author of “Zeal without Innovation,” or Mr. Belsham, would ever again wish to encounter so formidable an adversary.

Source: The Christian Recorder: A Religious and Literary Journal, Issues 1-25; Published 1829

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Religion in Politics

Former First Lady Abigail Adams Regarding Patriots & Religion (Click to enlarge)

Former First Lady Abigail Adams Regarding Patriots & Religion (Click to enlarge)

“So long as there is politics in religion, we will oppose it with religion in politics.”

Christian Register 1920

WILL YOU PLEASE TELL your readers why you deal with political subjects? I agree heartily with your policy, and I should like to have you define it.” We are pleased to reply to this inquiry. Of course, there is a reason for everything we do, and in this important case we are certain it is right and necessary. We put the whole thing in a sentence. It is a principle: So long as there is politics in religion, we will oppose it with religion in politics.

Thomas Jefferson concerning the 1st Amendment Religious Freedom (Click to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson concerning the 1st Amendment Religious Freedom (Click to enlarge)

We mean to apply a searching and unyielding test not so much to the politicians as to the members of our churches of every name who still live in the inconsistent and indefensible position where they consider the government of their country an unreligious and unmoral concern. They say it is politics, the place forbidden, where they shut out God, Church, conscience, and duty. In short, by making politics, or the affairs of state, unmoral and unreligious, they really are responsible for politics being immoral and irreligious. There can be no neutrality. These people do keep religion out .of their politics, but they do not keep politics out of their religion. That is what we mean by the abomination of politics in religion. It is doing more harm to the spiritual integrity and the moral rectitude of church members than any other factor in modern life; and that is certainly not to blink the other gross evils of our time.

We have a great mission to perform as a religious journal. We call men and women to repentance and conversion. They need it; we need it. The people of God treat the sanctities of their Nation with indifference and nonchalance; or they go their selfish and sheepish way as mere partisans, caught by the vicious sophistries of men the most corrupt and self-seeking in the land. How politicians laugh at church members! That is how far politics has got into religion. That is why we say the only salvation is in stirring deep the spirit of religion in politics. We are prophesying for the good time ‘when a man’s religion in his politics will be as 0bviously on the side of intelligent righteousness as, his religion now is on the side of faithfulness to his wife and family [or should be]; of honest and fair conduct in his business; of the spirit of fellowship among his c0churchmen in the sanctuary.

Thomas Jefferson Concerning Morality & Religion (Click to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson Concerning Pure Morality & Religion of Jesus (Click to enlarge)

Why have we been so long a time under the sinful blight of politics in our religion? Why do we trim and deceive our minds with all sorts of devices to satisfy our politics? Why do we let vile men prostitute our bodies and souls? Why can we not be men and women approved of God, faithful to religion in our politics? The answer is plain. Politics in our religion has polluted our beings until we are stupid and indolent. There are in the churches of every faith in the land men and women of nobility and virtue in most things in life, who are guilty of a shameless taint in the high calling of their Christian citizenship. And some of them have the temerity to say to their ministers, with a gesture of monetary penalty if their ministers tell them the truth of God, that religion and politics must be kept apart! These saintly ones can see a city in the filthy hands of plunderers; a commonwealth playing to the fortunes of rotten financiers; a nation in danger of repudiating its promise of fellowship among the peoples of the world, and give it all no heed whatever, yet counting themselves good. They are so dumb to spiritual truth they cannot see as they ought to see with ethical rigor that the debasement of the moral factors, honesty, public service, and co-operation in public life, goes on because the power of politics in their religion for evil is greater than the power of religion in their politics for good. We shall not cease the imperial command of Almighty God until the end comes of politics in religion and the reign begins of religion in politics, especially in the lives of those who profess and call themselves Christians.

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GOD AND CAESAR Being a Good Citizen

Thomas Jefferson concerning the 1st Amendment Religious Freedom (Click to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson concerning the 1st Amendment Religious Freedom (Click to enlarge)

By religious freedom, or soul liberty, is meant the natural and inalienable right of every soul to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and to be unmolested in the exercise of that right, so long, at least, as he does not infringe upon the rights of others; that religion is, and must be, a voluntary service; that only such service is acceptable to God; and, hence, that no earthly power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, has any right to compel conformity to any creed or to any species of worship, or to tax a man for its support.

This principle gives to “Caesar” “the things that are Caesar’s,” but it denies to Caesar “the things, that are God’s.” It does not make it a matter of indifference what a man believes or how he acts, but it places all on the same footing before God, the only lord of the conscience, and makes us responsible to him alone for our faith and practice. This doctrine is now very generally accepted, not only in Virginia, but also throughout the United States. It has been incorporated into our National and State Constitutions, and it is the basis of our civil liberties. And yet at the date of the American Revolution it was not so. No government in the Old World had recognized this doctrine, and, unless Rhode Island be an exception, it did not find full and unequivocal recognition in any of the colonies of the New World. Virginia was the first to recognize it in her organic law, and this she did in Article XVI. of her Bill of Rights, which was adopted on the 12th day of June, 1776. From that time down to January 19, 1786, when Jefferson’s “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom” became the law of the State, the battle for soul liberty was on.

History proves how the Light of “True” Christianity had to advance out of the Dark Ages in order for Religious Liberty to advance, which then allowed civil society to advance in large degrees. ~ Editor

GOD AND CAESAR Duty of American Citizens

Our Lord’s saying, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s,” being rightly interpreted for us, means, “Render unto President and Congress, to governor and legislature, and to all courts and magistrates, all that is due to them according to the constitution and laws.” Our Lord set a limit to the civil power, and thus guarded religious liberty. The things of Caesar and the things of God are to be distinguished from each other, but they cannot be separated from each other. To be a good citizen and to be a good Christian are two quite distinct things, but they cannot be two separate things. A good Christian cannot knowingly neglect his duty to his country; a citizen cannot do his best for his country if he disregards his religious obligations. He who disregards the things that are Caesar’s therein disobeys God. He who is regardless of the things which are God’s is not helping to secure to his country the favor of God.

Thomas Jefferson Concerning the Rights of Conscience (Click to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson Concerning the Rights of Conscience (Click to enlarge)

All duties of citizenship are really religious duties. The Christian can no more exclude religion from his politics than from the training of his family. He should adopt his political opinions as conscientiously as his religious opinions. He should defend the former with as scrupulous truthfulness as the latter. He should go to the polls and to the primary meeting with as serious reference to the will of God as to the prayer meeting. He should choose his party as conscientiously as he chooses his church, and should have no connection with any party unless he honestly thinks that he can thus best promote whatever is true and pure and right. He may no more allow his party than his church to control his conscience or constrain him to violate his principles.

Thomas Jefferson Concerning Christian and Religious Duty (Click to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson Concerning Christian and Religious Duty (Click to enlarge)

The obligation to “render unto God the things which are God’s” is as binding upon Caesar as upon his lowliest subject. Rulers have personally the same religious duties and needs as if they were not rulers; and there are obligations to God resting upon rulers as such, over and above those which rest upon them in common with other men. “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” This obligation rests upon every ruler, no matter in what way he has acquired his power—whether by birth, by conquest or by the choice of the people. It follows irresistibly that a free people ought always to elect rulers who are “just, fearing God.” Every Christian citizen ought to give his vote and use his political influence as wisely as he can to this end.

The government has no right to pursue a policy which prevents its subjects from rendering unto God the things that are God’s. So far as worship and the profession of religious belief are concerned, this is well settled in our country. The people are unanimous and the national constitution is explicit in denying to our rulers the right either to require or to forbid the adoption of any creed or the practice of any religious rites whatsoever. But it would be a false view of religion to regard it as consisting only in creed and worship. If religion is not a spiritual power pervading practical life, it is worthless.

Jefferson regarding Jesus' Mission (Click to enlarge)

Jefferson regarding Jesus’ Mission (Click to enlarge)

The government has no right either to forbid or to command us to pray or to keep the Sabbath religiously; but it ought to protect us all in our right to pray and to keep the Sabbath holy. It does repress and forbid noisy demonstrations and the public prosecution of trades and business, which would destroy the quietness that is necessary for religious Sabbath-keeping. Our government has always done this, at least so far as to commit it to the principle, yet it does not consistently carry out this principle. The principle requires cessation from labor in all departments of government service, and forbids the running of trains for postal or other service, on the Sabbath, as clearly as it requires foundries and mills and anvils to cease from their din and noise.

There is an application of this principle to our public education, which calls for more thorough investigation than it has yet received. It is strenuously asserted that no religious teaching can be given in schools supported by taxation without violating religious liberty, because, in the vast variety of religious belief and unbelief, no religious teaching can be given which will not be contrary to the religious belief or unbelief of some tax-payer. So Christians are told that they must teach religion at home and in the Sabbath-school, and let the state teach arithmetic and geography and grammar.

Jefferson Concerning the Necessity of Morality in Society (Click to enlarge)

Jefferson Concerning the Necessity of Morality in Society (Click to enlarge)

If religion with us meant a creed or a catechism or a rite, this might do; but if religion means a spiritual power pervading and controlling practical life, it will not do. What would infidels say of a man who should propose to confine the religion of his family to Sunday and the daily half hour of family worship? They would call him a hypocrite. They would justly say, “If that man honestly believed what he teaches the children on Sunday and what he reads from his Bible and sings from his hymn-book and solemnly utters on his knees, it would go with him to the field and to the table and in all the various work and play and intercourse of the family He would do just as his Bible bids him, where it says, “And these words which I command thee shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” But is such a sincere Christian, being a father, willing to have religion excluded from the whole school-life of his children— to have their intellects formed and trained under a system which forbids their teachers to find moral principles in the Ten Commandments, or wisdom in the Proverbs, or history in the Pentateuch, or poetry in David and Isaiah, or God in chemistry and astronomy?

May the government rightly take for its treasury the money which such a father would use for the education of his children, and give him in return only an education which has all religion excluded from it? Must the government be so tender of the atheist’s conscience, at the expense of putting such a strain as that upon the Christian conscience? Is the conscience, whose supreme law is “Fear God, and keep his commandments,” so much less entitled to the respect of rulers than that which says, “There is no God, there is no immortality, there is no immutable moral right”?

Jefferson Regarding Religious Liberty (Click to enlarge)

Jefferson Regarding Religious Liberty (Click to enlarge)

The Synod of New York at its last meeting affirmed its conviction that our national vigor and permanence are guaranteed only by a religiously-grounded morality; that there should be in every school maintained by the state the inculcation of such principles of dependence upon God and obligation to him as are essential to sound learning, safe character and wholesome citizenship; that the synod should bring the entire weight of its influence to bear against whatever, by statement or suggestion, shall antagonize the claims of the God upon whom we depend and to whom we owe obligations. The synod instructed its ministers publicly to recognize the difficulties in which the case is involved, and to bring those difficulties to bear as an argument for more thorough, intelligent and faithful religious instruction on the part of the family, the Sunday-school and the church. Surely these are words of truth and soberness.

Sources: The Church at Home and Abroad, Volume 3 January, 1888
Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia by Charles Fenton James, 1899

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An Alphabet of Lesson for Youth: The New England Primer 1777

the-new-england-primerThe New England Primer was the first textbook ever printed in America. Printed in 1690 in Boston, it was used for two hundred years in America‘s schools. In addition to teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, there was also a moral, biblical and spiritual dimension to its content. Here are some examples of how the alphabet was taught:

[A] Wise son maketh a glad father, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.

[B]etter is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure & trouble therewith.

[C]ome unto Christ all ye that labor and are heavy laden and he will give you rest.

[D]o not the abominable thing which I hate saith the Lord.

[E]xcept a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

[F]oolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

[G]odliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and that which is to come.

[H]oliness becomes GOD’s house for ever.

[I]t is good for me to draw near unto GOD.

[K]eep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.

[L]iars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.

[M]any are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivereth them out of them all.

[N]ow is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.

[O]ut of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

[P]ray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which sees in secret shall reward thee openly.

[Q]uit you like men, be strong, stand fast in the faith.

[R]emember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.

[S]eest thou a man wise in his own conceit, there is more hope of a fool than of him.

[T]rust in God at all times, ye people, pour out your hearts before him.

[U]pon the wicked, God shall rain an horrible tempest.

[W]oe to the wicked, it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him.

e[X]hort one another daily while it is called to day, lest any of you be hardened thro’ the deceitfulness of sin.

[Y]oung men ye have overcome the wicked one.

[Z]eal hath consumed me, because thy enemies have forgotten the word of God.
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THE UNITED STATES A CHRISTIAN NATION

ChristianPatriotJusticeKentNY

THE UNITED STATES A CHRISTIAN NATION by David Josiah Brewer

WE classify nations in various ways. as, for instance, by their form of government. One is a kingdom, another an empire, and still another a republic. Also by race. Great Britain is an Anglo-Saxon nation, France a Gaelic, Germany a Teutonic, Russia a Slav. And still again by religion. One is a Mohammedan nation, others are heathen, and still others are Christian nations.

This republic is classified among the Christian nations of the world. It was so formally declared by the Supreme Court of the United States. In the case of Holy Trinity Church vs. United States, 143 U. S. 471, that court [1892], after mentioning various circumstances, added, “If we pass beyond these matters to a view of American life, as expressed by its laws, its business, its customs, and its society, we find every where a clear recognition of the same truth. Among other matters, note the following: the form of oath universally prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty; the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies and most conventions with prayer; the prefatory words of all wills, “In the name of God, amen;” the laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath, with the general cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts, legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that day; the churches and church organizations which abound in every city, town, and hamlet; the multitude of charitable organizations existing every where under Christian auspices; the gigantic missionary associations, with general support, and aiming to establish Christian missions in every quarter of the globe. These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.

But in what sense can it be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, “and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in the public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions.

Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation—in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world. This popular use of the term certainly has significance. It is not a mere creation of the imagination. It is not a term of derision but has a substantial basis—one which justifies its use. Let us analyze a little and see what is the basis.

Its use has had from the early settlements on our shores and still has an official foundation. It is only about three centuries since the beginnings of civilized life within the limits of these United States. And those beginnings were in a marked and marvelous degree identified with Christianity. The commission from Ferdinand and Isabella to Columbus recites that “it is hoped that by God’s assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered.” The first colonial grant, that made to Sir Walter Raleigh, in 1584, authorized him to enact statutes for the government of the proposed colony, provided that “they be not against the true Christian faith, now professed in the Church of England.” The first charter of Virginia, granted by King James I, in 1606, after reciting the application of certain parties for a charter, commenced the grant in these words: “We, greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their desires for the furtherance of so noble a work, which may, by the providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the glory of His Divine Majesty, in propagating the Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God.” And language of similar import is found in subsequent charters of the same colony, from the same king, in 1609 and 1611. The celebrated compact made by the Pilgrims on the Mayflower, in 1620, recites: “Having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith and the honor of our king and country a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia.”

The charter of New England, granted by James I, in 1620, after referring to a petition, declares: “We, according to our princely inclination, favoring much their worthy disposition, in hope thereby to advance the enlargement of Christian religion, to the glory of God Almighty.”

The charter of Massachusetts Bay, granted in 1629 by Charles I, after several provisions, recites: “Whereby our said people, inhabitants there, may be so religiously, peaceably and civilly governed as their good life and orderly conversation may win and incite the natives of the country to their knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Saviour of mankind, and the Christian faith, which in our royal intention and the adventurers free profession, is the principal end of this plantation,” which declaration was substantially repeated in the charter of Massachusetts Bay granted by William and Mary, in 1691.

The fundamental orders of Connecticut, under which a provisional government was instituted in 1638-1639, provided: “Forasmuch as it has pleased the Almighty God by the wise disposition of His divine providence so to order and dispose of things that we, the inhabitants and residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield, are now cohabitating and dwelling in and upon the River of Connecticut and the lands thereto adjoining; and well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; do therefore associate and conjoin ourselves to be as one public state or commonwealth; and do for ourselves and our successors and such as shall be adjoined to us at any time hereafter enter into combination and confederation together to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also the discipline of the churches, which, according to the truth of the said gospel, is now practiced amongst us.” In the preamble of the Constitution of 1776 it was declared, “the free fruition of such liberties and privileges as humanity, civility and Christianity call for, as is due to every man in his place and proportion, without impeachment and infringement, hath ever been, and will be the tranquility and stability of churches and commonwealths; and the denial thereof, the disturbance, if not the ruin of both.”

In 1638 the first settlers in Rhode Island organized a local government by signing the following agreement:

“We whose names are underwritten do here solemnly in the presence of Jehovah incorporate ourselves into a Bodie Politick and as He shall help, will submit our persons, lives and estates unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and to all those perfect and most absolute laws of his given us in his holy word of truth, to be guided and judged thereby. Exod. 24: 3, 4; II Chron. 11: 3; II Kings 11:17.”

The charter granted to Rhode Island, in 1663, naming the petitioners, speaks of them as “pursuing, with peaceable and loyal minds, their sober, serious and religious intentions, of godly edifying themselves and one another in the holy Christian faith and worship as they were persuaded; together with the gaining over and conversion of the poor, ignorant Indian natives, in these parts of America, to the sincere profession and obedience of the same faith and worship.”

The charter of Carolina, granted in 1663 by Charles II, recites that the petitioners, “being excited with a laudable and pious zeal for the propagation of the Christian faith.”

In the preface of the frame of government prepared in 1682 by William Penn, for Pennsylvania, it is said: “They weakly err, that think there is no other use of government than correction, which is the coarsest part of it; daily experience tells us that the care and regulation of many other affairs, more soft, and daily necessary, make up much of the greatest part of government; and which must have followed the peopling of the world, had Adam never fell, and will continue among men, on earth, under the highest attainments they may arrive at, by the coming of the blessed second Adam, the Lord from heaven.” And with the laws prepared to go with the frame of government, it was further provided “that according to the good example of the primitive Christians, and the ease of the creation, every first day of the week, called the Lord’s Day, people shall abstain from their common daily labor that they may the better dispose themselves to worship God according to their understandings.”

In the charter of privileges granted, in 1701, by William Penn to the province of Pennsylvania and territories thereunto belonging (such territories afterwards constituting the State of Delaware), it is recited : “Because no people can be truly happy, though under the greatest enjoyment of civil liberties, if abridged of the freedom of their consciences as to their religious profession and worship; and Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits, and the author as well as object of all divine knowledge, faith and worship, who only doth enlighten the minds and persuade and convince the understandings of the people, I do hereby grant and declare.”

The Constitution of Vermont, of 1777, granting the free exercise of religious worship, added, “Nevertheless, every sect or denomination of people ought to observe the Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day, and keep up and support some sort of religious worship, which to them shall seem most agreeable to the revealed will of God.” And this was repeated in the Constitution of 1786.

In the Constitution of South Carolina, of 1778, it was declared that “the Christian Protestant religion shall be deemed and is hereby constituted and declared to be the established religion of this State.” And further, that no agreement or union of men upon pretense of religion should be entitled to become incorporated and regarded as a church of the established religion of the State, without agreeing and subscribing to a book of five articles, the third and fourth of which were “that the Christian religion is the true religion; that the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament are of divine inspiration, and are the rule of faith and practice.”

Passing beyond these declarations which are found in the organic instruments of the colonies, the following are well known historical facts: Lord Baltimore secured the charter for a Maryland colony in order that he and his associates might continue their Catholic worship free from Protestant persecution. Roger Williams, exiled from Massachusetts because of his religious views, established an independent colony in Rhode Island. The Huguenots, driven from France by the Edict of Nantes, sought in the more southern colonies a place where they could live in the enjoyment of their Huguenot faith. It is not exaggeration to say that Christianity in some of its creeds was the principal cause of the settlement of many of the colonies, and cooperated with business hopes and purposes in the settlement of the others. Beginning in this way and under these influences it is not strange that the colonial life had an emphatic Christian tone.

From the very first efforts were made, largely it must be conceded by Catholics, to bring the Indians under the influence of Christianity. Who can read without emotion the story of Marquette, and others like him, enduring all perils and dangers and toiling through the forests of the west in their efforts to tell the story of Jesus to the [natives] of North America?

Within less than one hundred years from the landing at Jamestown three colleges were established in the colonies; Harvard in Massachusetts, William and Mary in Virginia and Yale in Connecticut. The first seal used by Harvard College had as a motto, “In Christi Gloriam,” [The Glory of Christ] and the charter granted by Massachusetts Bay contained this recital: “Whereas, through the good hand of God many well devoted persons have been and daily are moved and stirred up to give and bestow sundry gifts . . . that may conduce to the education of the English and Indian youth of this country, in knowledge and godliness.” The charter of William and Mary, reciting that the proposal was “to the end that the Church of Virginia may be furnished with a seminary of ministers of the gospel, and that the youth may be piously educated in good letters and manners, and that the Christian faith may be propagated amongst the western Indians, to the glory of Almighty God” made the grant “for propagating the pure gospel of Christ, our only Mediator, to the praise and honor of Almighty God.” The charter of Yale declared as its purpose to fit “young men for public employment both in church and civil state,” and it provided that the trustees should be Congregational ministers living in the colony.

In some of the colonies, particularly in New England, the support of the church was a matter of public charge, even as the common schools are to-day. Thus the Constitution of Massachusetts, of 1780, Part I, Article 3, provided that “the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic or religious societies to make suitable provision at their own expense for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.”

Article 6 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of New Hampshire, of 1784, repeated in the Constitution of 1792, empowered “the legislature to authorize from time to time, the several towns, parishes, bodies corporate, or religious societies within this State, to make adequate provision at their own expense for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality.” In the fundamental Constitutions of 1769, prepared for the Carolinas, by the celebrated John Locke, Article 96 reads: “As the country comes to be sufficiently planted and distributed into fit divisions, it shall belong to the parliament to take care for the building of churches, and the public maintenance of divines to be employed in the exercise of religion according to the Church of England, which being the only true and orthodox and the national religion of all the king’s dominions, is so also of Carolina, and, therefore, it alone shall be allowed to receive public maintenance by grant of parliament.”

In Maryland, by the Constitution of 1776, it was provided that “the legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general and equal tax, for ‘the support of the Christian religion.”

In several colonies and states a profession of the Christian faith was made an indispensable condition to holding office. In the frame of government for Pennsylvania, prepared by William Penn, in 1683, it was provided that “all treasurers, judges . . . and other officers . . . and all members elected to serve in provincial council and general assembly, and all that have right to elect such members, shall be such as profess faith in Jesus Christ.” And in the charter of privileges for that colony, given in 1701 by William Penn and approved by the colonial assembly it was provided “that all persons who also profess to believe in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the World, shall be capable … to serve this government in any capacity, both legislatively and executively.”

In Delaware, by the Constitution of 1776, every officeholder was required to make and subscribe the following declaration: “I, A. B., do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His Only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forevermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.”

New Hampshire, in the Constitutions of 1784 and 1792, required that senators and representatives should be of the “Protestant, religion,” and (this provision remained in force until 1877.

The fundamental Constitutions of the Carolinas declared: “No man shall be permitted Ito be a freeman of Carolina, or to have any estate or habitation within it that doth not acknowledge a God, and that God is publicly and solemnly to be worshiped.”

The Constitution of North Carolina, of 1776, provided: “That no person who shall deny the being of God or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.” And this remained in force until 1835, when it was amended by changing the word “Protestant” to “Christian,” and as so amended remained in force until the Constitution of 1868. And in that Constitution among the persons disqualified for office were “all persons who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

New Jersey, by the Constitution of 1776, declared “that no Protestant inhabitant of this colony shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right merely on account of his religious principles, but that all persons professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect, who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government as hereby established, shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or being a member of either branch of the legislature.”

The Constitution of South Carolina, of 1776, provided that no person should be eligible to the Senate or House of Representatives “unless he be of the Protestant religion.”

Massachusetts, in its Constitution of 1780, required from governor, lieutenant-governor, councillor, senator and representative before proceeding to execute the duties of his place or office a declaration that “I believe the Christian religion, and have a firm persuasion of its truth.”

By the fundamental orders of Connecticut the governor was directed to take an oath to “further the execution of justice according to the rule of God’s word; so help me God, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Vermont Constitution of 1777 required of every member of the House of Representatives that he take this oath: “I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and punisher of the wicked, and I do acknowledge the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration, and own and profess the Protestant religion.” A similar requirement was provided by the Constitution of 1786.

In Maryland, by the Constitution of 1776, every person appointed to any office of profit or trust was not only to take an official oath of allegiance to the State, but also to “subscribe a declaration of his belief in the Christian religion.” In the same State, in the Constitution of 1851, it was declared that no other test or qualification for admission to any office of trust or profit shall be required than the official oath “and a declaration of belief in the Christian religion; and if the party shall profess to be a Jew the declaration shall be of his belief in a future state of rewards and punishments.” As late as 1864 the same State in its Constitution had a similar provision, the change being one merely of phraseology, the provision reading, “a declaration of belief in the Christian religion, or of the existence of God, and in a future state of rewards and punishments.”

Mississippi, by the Constitution of 1817, provided that “no person who denies the being of God or a future state of rewards and punishments shall hold any office in the civil department of the State.”

Another significant matter is the recognition of Sunday. That day is the Christian Sabbath, a day peculiar to that faith, and known to no other. It would be impossible within the limits of a lecture to point out all the ways in which that day is recognized. The following illustrations must suffice: By the United States Constitution the President is required to approve all bills passed by Congress. If he disapproves he returns it with his veto. And then specifically it is provided that if not returned by him within ten days, “Sundays excepted,” after it shall have been presented to him it becomes a law. Similar provisions are found in the Constitutions of most of the States, and in thirty-six out of forty-five is the same expression, “Sundays excepted.”

Louisiana is one of the nine States in whose present Constitution the expression, “Sundays excepted,” is not found. Four earlier Constitutions of that State (those of 1812, 1845, 1852and 1864) contained, while the three later ones, 1868, 1879 and 1881 omit those words. In State ex rel. vs. Secretary of State, a case arising under the last Constitution, decided by the Supreme Court of Louisiana (52 La. An. 936), the question was presented as to the effect of a governor’s veto which was returned within time if a Sunday intervening between the day of presentation of the bill and the return of the veto was excluded, and too late if it was included; the burden of the contention on the one side being that the change in the phraseology of the later Constitutions in omitting the words “Sundays excepted” indicated a change in the meaning of the constitutional provision in respect to the time of a veto. The court unanimously held that the Sunday was to be excluded. In the course of its opinion it said (p. 944):

“In law Sundays are generally excluded as days upon which the performance of any act demanded by the law is not required. They are held to be dies non juridici. [non-judicial days]

“And in the Christian world Sunday is regarded as the ‘Lord’s Day,’ and a holiday— a day of cessation from labor.

“By statute, enacted as far back as 1838, this day is made in Louisiana one of ‘public rest.’ Rev. Stat, Sec. 522; Code of Practice, 207, 763.

“This is the policy of the State of long standing and the framers of the Constitution are to be considered as intending to conform to the same.”

By express command of Congress studies are not pursued at the military or naval academies, and distilleries are prohibited from operation on Sundays, while chaplains are required to hold religious services once at least on that day.

By the English statute of 29 Charles II no tradesman, artificer, workman, laborer, or other person was permitted to do or exercise any worldly labor, business or work of ordinary calling upon the Lord’s Day, or any part thereof, works of necessity or charity only excepted. That statute, with some variations, has been adopted by most if not all the States of the Union. In Massachusetts it was held that one injured while traveling in the cars on Sunday, except in case of necessity or charity, was guilty of contributory negligence and could recover nothing from the railroad company for the injury he sustained. And this decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States. A statute of the State of Georgia, making the running of freight trains on Sunday a misdemeanor, was also upheld by that court. By decisions in many States a contract made on Sunday is invalid and cannot be enforced. By the general course of decision no judicial proceedings can be held on Sunday. All legislative bodies, whether municipal, state or national, abstain from work on that day. Indeed, the vast volume of official action, legislative and judicial, recognizes Sunday as a day separate and apart from the others, a day devoted not to the ordinary pursuits of life. It is true in many of the decisions this separation of the day is said to be authorized by the police power of the State and exercised for purposes of health. At the same time, through a large majority of them, there runs the thought of its being a religious day, consecrated by the Commandment, “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates.”

While the word “God” is not infrequently used both in the singular and plural to denote any supreme being or beings, yet when used alone and in the singular number it generally refers to that Supreme Being spoken of in the Old and New Testaments and worshiped by Jew and Christian. In that sense the word is used in constitution, statute and instrument. In many State Constitutions we find in the preamble a declaration like this: “Grateful to Almighty God.” In some he who denied the being of God was disqualified from holding office. It is again and again declared in constitution and statute that official oaths shall close with an appeal, “So help me, God.” When, upon inauguration, the President-elect each four years consecrates himself to the great responsibilities of Chief Executive of the republic, his vow of consecration in the presence of the vast throng filling the Capitol grounds will end with the solemn words, “So help me, God.” In all our courts witnesses in like manner vouch for the truthfulness of their testimony. The common commencement of wills is “In the name of God, Amen.” Every foreigner attests his renunciation of allegiance to his former sovereign and his acceptance of citizenship in this republic by an appeal to God.

These various declarations in charters, constitutions and statutes indicate the general thought and purpose. If it be said that similar declarations are not found in all the charters or in all the constitutions, it will be borne in mind that the omission oftentimes was because they were deemed unnecessary, as shown by the quotation just made from the opinion of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, as well as those hereafter taken from the opinions of other courts. And further, it is of still more significance that there are no contrary declarations. In no charter or constitution is there anything to even suggest that any other than the Christian is the religion of his country. In none of them is Mohammed or Confucius or Buddha in any manner noticed. In none of them is Judaism recognized other than by way of toleration of its special creed. While the separation of church and state is often affirmed, there is nowhere a repudiation of Christianity as one of the institutions as well as benedictions of society. In short, there is no charter or constitution that is either infidel, agnostic or anti-Christian. Wherever there is a declaration in favor of any religion it is of the Christian. In view of the multitude of expressions in its favor, the avowed separation between church and state is a most satisfactory testimonial that it is the religion of this country, for a peculiar thought of Christianity is of a personal relation between man and his Maker, uncontrolled by and independent of human government.

Notice also the matter of chaplains. These are appointed for the army and navy, named as officials of legislative assemblies, and universally they belong to one or other of the Christian denominations. Their whole range of service, whether in prayer or preaching, is an official recognition of Christianity. If it be not so, why do we have chaplains?

If we consult the decisions of the courts, although the formal question has seldom been presented because of a general recognition of its truth, yet in The People vs. Ruggles, 8 John. 290, 294, 295, Chancellor Kent, the great commentator on American law, speaking as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, said: “The people of this State, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice.” And in the famous case of Vidal vs. Girard’s Executors, 2 How. 127, 198, the Supreme Court of the United States, while sustaining the will of Mr. Girard, with its provision for the creation of a college into which no minister should be permitted to enter, observed: “It is also said, and truly, that the Christian religion is a part of the common law of Pennsylvania.”

The New York Supreme Court, in Lindenmuller vs. The People, 33 Barbour, 561, held that:

“Christianity is not the legal religion of the State, as established by law. If it were, it would be a civil or political institution, which it is not; but this is not inconsistent with the idea that it is in fact, and ever has been, the religion of the people. This fact is everywhere prominent in all our civil and political history>and has been, from the first, recognized and acted upon by the people, as well as by constitutional conventions, by legislatures and by courts of justice.”

The South Carolina Supreme Court, in States vs. Chandler, 2 Harrington, 555, citing many cases, said:

“It appears to have been long perfectly settled by the common law that blasphemy against the Deity in general, or a malicious and wanton attack against the Christian religion individually, for the purpose of exposing its doctrines to contempt and ridicule, T, indictable and punishable as a temporal offense.”

And again, in City Council vs. Benjamin, 2 Strobhart, 521:

“On that day we rest, and to us it is the Sabbath of the Lord—its decent observance in a Christian community is that which ought to be expected.

“It is not perhaps necessary for the purposes of this case to rule and hold that the Christian religion is part of the common law of South Carolina. Still it may be useful to show that it lies at the foundation of even the article of the Constitution under consideration, and that upon it rest many of the principles and usages, constantly acknowledged and enforced, in the courts of justice.”

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in Updegraph vs. The Commonwealth, 11 Sergeant and Rawle, 400, made this declaration:

“Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law of Pennsylvania; Christianity, without the spiritual artillery of European countries; for this Christianity was one of the considerations of the royal charter, and the very basis of its great founder, William Penn; not Christianity founded on any particular religious tenets; not Christianity with an established church, and tithes, and spiritual courts; but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.”

And subsequently, in Johnson vs. The Commonwealth, 10 Harris, 111.

“It is not our business to discuss the obligations of Sunday any further than they enter into and are recognized by the law of the land. The common law adopted it, along with Christianity, of which it is one of the bulwarks.”

In Arkansas, Shover vs. The State, 10 English, 263, the Supreme Court said:

“Sunday or the Sabbath is properly and emphatically called the Lord’s Day, and is one amongst the first and most sacred institutions of the Christian religion. This system of religion is recognized as constituting a part and parcel of the common law, and as such all of the institutions growing out of it, or, in any way, connected with it, in case they shall not be found to interfere with the rights of conscience, are entitled to the most profound respect, and can rightfully claim the protection of the law-making power of the State.”

The Supreme Court of Maryland, in Judefind vs. The State, 78- Maryland, 514, declared:

“The Sabbath is emphatically the day of rest, and the day of rest here is the Lord’s Day or Christian’s Sunday. Ours is a Christian community, and a day set apart as the day of rest is the day consecrated by the resurrection of our Saviour, and embraces the twenty-four hours next ensuing the midnight of Saturday. . . . But it would scarcely be asked of a court, in what professes to be a Christian land, to declare a law unconstitutional because it requires rest from bodily labor on Sunday (except works of necessity and charity) and thereby promotes the cause of Christianity.”

If now we pass from the domain of official action and recognition to that of individual acceptance we enter a field of boundless extent, and I can only point out a few of the prominent facts:

Notice our educational institutions. I have already called your attention to the provisions of the charters of the first three colleges. Think of the vast number of academies, colleges and universities scattered through the land. Some of them, it is true, are under secular control, but there is yet to be established in this country one of those institutions founded on the religions of Confucius, Buddha or Mohammed, while an overwhelming majority are under the special direction and control of Christian teachers.

Notice also the avowed and pronounced Christian forces of the country, and here I must refer to the census of 1890, for the statistics of the census of 1900 in these matters have not been compiled: The population was 62,622,000. There were 165,000 Christian church organizations, owning 142,000 buildings, in which were sittings for 40,625,000 people. The communicants in these churches numbered 20,476,000, and the value of the church property amounted to $669,876,000. In other words, about one third of the entire population were directly connected with Christian organizations. Nearly two-thirds would find seats in our churches. If to the members we add the children and others in their families more or less connected with them, it is obvious that a large majority were attached to the various church organizations. I am aware that the relationship between many members and their churches is formal, and that church relations do not constitute active and paramount forces in their lives, and yet it is clear that there is an identification of the great mass of American citizens with the Christian church. It is undoubtedly true that there is no little complaint of the falling off in church attendance, and of a luke-warmness on the part of many, and on the other hand there is a diversion of religious force along the lines of the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Christian Endeavor Society and the Epworth League. All these, of course, are matters to be noticed, but they do not avoid the fact of a formal adhesion of the great majority of our people to the Christian faith; and while creeds and dogmas and denominations are in a certain sense losing their power, and certainly their antagonisms, yet as a vital force in the land, Christianity is still the mighty factor. Connected with the denominations are large missionary bodies constantly busy in extending Christian faith through this nation and through the world. No other religious organization has anything of a foothold or is engaged in active work unless it be upon so small a scale as scarcely to be noticed in the great volume of American life.

Again, the Bible is the Christian’s book. No other book has so wide a circulation, or is so universally found in the households of the land. During their century of existence the English and American Bible Societies have published and circulated two hundred and fifty million copies, and this represents but a fraction of its circulation. And then think of the multitude of volumes published in exposition, explanation and illustration of that book, or some portion of it.

You will have noticed that I have presented no doubtful facts. Nothing has been stated which is debatable. The quotations from charters are in the archives of the several States; the laws are on the statute books; judicial opinions are taken from the official reports; statistics from the census publications. In short, no evidence has been presented which is open to question.

I could easily enter upon another line of examination. I could point out the general trend of public opinion, the disclosures of purposes and beliefs to be found in letters, papers, books and unofficial declarations. I could show how largely our laws and customs are based upon the laws of Moses and the teachings of Christ; how constantly the Bible is appealed to as the guide of life and the authority in questions of morals; how the Christian doctrines are accepted as the great comfort in times of sorrow and affliction, and fill with the light of hope the services for the dead. On every hilltop towers the steeple of some Christian church, while from the marble witnesses in God’s acre comes the universal but silent testimony to the common faith in the Christian doctrine of the resurrection and the life hereafter.

But I must not weary you. I could go on indefinitely, pointing out further illustrations both official and non-official, public and private; such as the annual Thanksgiving proclamations, with their following days of worship and feasting; announcements of days of fasting and prayer; the universal celebration of Christmas; the gathering of millions of our children in Sunday Schools, and the countless volumes of Christian literature, both prose and poetry. But I have said enough to show that Christianity came to this country with the first colonists; has been powerfully identified with its rapid development, colonial and national, and to-day exists as a mighty factor in the life of the republic. This is a Christian nation, and we can all rejoice as truthfully we repeat the words of Leonard Bacon:

“O God, beneath thy guiding hand
Our exiled fathers crossed the sea,
And when they trod the wintry strand,
With prayer and psalm they worshiped Thee.

“Thou heardst, well pleased, the song, the prayer
Thy blessing came; and still its power
Shall onward through all ages bear
The memory of that holy hour.

“Laws, freedom, truth, and faith in God
Came with those exiles o’er the waves,
And where their pilgrim feet have trod,
The God they trusted guards their graves.

“And here Thy name, O God of love,
Their children’s children shall adore,
Till these eternal hills remove,
And spring adorns the earth no more.”

NOTE: I’ll get back to this and add more links to the history and documents it speaks of.
Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis

Human [laws] Must Give Way to Divine Laws

ChristianPatriotResistance

Human [laws] give way to divine laws.

Summa Ratio Est Quae Pro Religione Facit
That rule of conduct is to be deemed binding which religion dictates.

The maxim above cited from the commentaries of Sir E. Cake is, in truth, derived from the Digest; where Papinian [Roman Jurist born 142 AD], after remarking that certain religious observances were favoured by the Roman law, gives as a reason summum esse rationem quae pro religione facit. [The highest rule is that which advances religion.]

The doctrine, thus expressed, and recognized by our own law, must be understood in a somewhat qualified sense, and should be cautiously applied, for, whilst on the one hand “There are many social duties which are not enforced, and many wicked deeds which are not punished by human laws”. So, on the other, an act springing from very laudable motives may expose to punishment.

It may, however, safely be affirmed that, if ever the laws of God and man are at variance, the former are to be obeyed in derogation of the latter as; that the law of God is, under all circumstances, superior in obligation to that of man and that, consequently, if any general custom were opposed to the Divine law, or if any statute were passed directly contrary thereto,—as if it were enacted generally that no one should give alms to any object in ever so necessitous a condition,—such a custom, or such an Act, would be void.

It may further be observed, that, upon these two foundations, the law of Nature and the law of Revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws can be suffered to contradict these. For instance, in the case of murder: this is expressly forbidden by the divine, and demonstrably by the natural law, and if any human law should allow or enjoin us to commit it, we are bound to transgress that human law, or else we must offend both the natural and the divine. “Neither are positive laws, even in matters seemingly indifferent, any further binding than they are agreeable with the laws of God and nature ”

It cannot, however, be doubted that obedience to the laws of our country, provided such laws are not opposed to the law of God, is a moral duty; and, therefore, although disobedience is justifiable in the one case supposed of a contradiction between divine and human laws, yet this is not so, either where the human law affirms the divine in a matter not indifferent in itself,—as where it forbids theft,—or where the human law commands or prohibits in a matter purely indifferent; and in both these cases it becomes a moral duty on the part of the subject to obey. In order to form a correct judgment on this subject, it is necessary to take into consideration, that the true principle both of moral and positive law is, in effect, the same—viz. utility, or the general welfare ; and that the disobedience of either sort of precept must be presumed to involve some kind of mischievous consequence, if for no other reason, yet for this, that such example of disobedience may encourage others to violate laws of a beneficial character, and tend to lessen that general reverence which ought to be entertained by the community for the institutions of the country.

Not only would the general maxim, which we have been considering, apply, if a conflict should arise between the law of the land and the law of God, but it likewise holds true with reference to foreign laws, wheresoever such laws are deemed by our courts inconsistent with the divine; for although it is well known that courts of justice in this country will recognize foreign laws and institutions, and will administer the lex loci [local law] in determining as to the validity of contracts, and in adjudicating upon the rights and liabilities of litigating parties, yet, inasmuch as the proceedings in our courts are founded upon the law of England, and since that law is founded upon the law of nature and the revealed law of God, it follows, that, if the right sought to be enforced is inconsistent with either of these, the English municipal courts cannot recognize it; and it may, therefore, be laid down generally, that what is called international comity, or the comitas inter communitates [courtesy between nations], cannot prevail here in any case, where its observance would tend to violate the law of this country, the law of nature, or the law of God

Source: A Selection of Legal Maxims, classified and illustrated; By Herbert Broom

DEEP-SEA FISHING

AncientMarinerDEEP-SEA FISHING A. H. F. FISCHER, D.D., Phoenixville, Pa.
Launch out into the deep.—Luke 5: 4.

THE accounts we have of the Master are but a very small portion of the things which he did. One biographer [John the Apostle] even states that if all were recorded the world itself could not contain the books [this is because Jesus was the first of God’s creation]. And yet there are no gaps in that comparatively short life. It moves along in perfect smoothness from start to finish. Now on what principle did the Spirit guide the sacred writers to omit what was not necessary to give us a succinct life and its work! On what principle did Christ enter the boat and tell certain men to fish where they had toiled all night and caught nothing, to go out into deeper waters, with such marvelous results! On what principle does Christ come into the life of tired disappointed men and fill them with encouragement and cheer! On the principle that he always does the right thing at the needed time. The early Church Fathers greatly emphasized the account of the miraculous draught of fishes. They said this story must never be allowed to die out, because it brings out one of the most encouraging lessons in human experience, viz., to work where we have failed and there meet success. It is a parable of the abiding influence of Christ in the world. Whenever you say to a man who is despondent, who feels he has been defeated, who has lost his grip and thinks everyone has deserted him and he has not a friend in the world, when you say to such a man, “Try again,” a sort of miracle of God occurs. New life and hope and energy enter the man and he faces defeat with a determination that means victory. Now the gospel is the voice of God to disheartened men. It says, get up and try again, there is a new fortune to be won where the old one was lost, a victory to be scored where our defeat was recorded. It comes to a man when depressed and tells him to take heart again.

This lake was a great place for fish. These men made their living catching fish and supplying the many surrounding towns with the product of their industry. They were accustomed to fish at night, for the fish then drew near the shore to feed. But they had a very unsuccessful night of it, a water-haul every time, and they had given it up and were drying their nets on the beach when Jesus appeared on the scene. A great crowd was there, and using Simon’s boat as a pulpit, he preached to them. Then, as if to reward him for the use of his improvised pulpit, he told Simon to launch out into the deep and let down his nets for a draught. Tired and disheartened with the night’s failure, Simon said, “Master, we have toiled all night and taken nothing, nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” And the haul was so tremendous that the net broke, and they had to call another boat, and the catch almost swamped both of them. That is the story.

But what good is there in a fish story? First this. Our Lord sent these men back to the very waters where they had failed; sent these discouraged fishermen to cast their nets in the same place where they had been working all night and caught nothing. So God sends us not to other places or other work, but where failure faced us. Now the business of these men was to know when and where to fish. They were experts, and doubtless they expected to be successful just where they failed. Christ might have said, you failed where you were, now let us go to another place, let us try our luck there. And the disciples might have added, yes, we have fished at the wrong place, we must go to other waters. For the tendency of the human heart is to give a materialistic interpretation to all life’s successes and failures. This or that was the cause of the success or the failure, leaving God out of the question altogether. We can imagine a man saying, if I could only go off to some new place every time I get discouraged trying again would be a much easier thing: if I could be somebody else, or go somewhere else, or do something else, it might not be hard to have fresh faith and courage. We can imagine a preacher saying, if I had only gone to China or the Philippines, or to some other field of labor, or if I would connect myself with some other denomination, perhaps I would be more successful in my work. If I would leave my profession and go into business, or as the case may be, leave my business and prepare for some profession, I might find my real place in life. But the Master knows best. It is the same old net in the same old pond for most of us. The old temptations are to be overcome, the old faults to be conquered, the old trials and discouragements before which we failed yesterday to be faced again today. Yes, the old things will be there, the people, some of whom we almost hated and with whom it was so hard to get along— the same people will be there. And back to them Christ sends us. We must win success where we are if we win it at all, and it is the Master himself, who, after all these toil-filled disheartening efforts that we call failures, bids us try again. George Eliot once said that the ethics of Jesus were too effeminate, that they did not appeal to the heroic, and consequently the teachings of Christ made weak men. But what could be more heroic than the life of the apostles! We read how once the disciples put up a good fight. Peter and the other apostle when imprisoned and charged that they should no longer teach in Christ’s name, replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Peter, the same man who in the presence of some of these people denied with an oath that he knew the Christ, now defends him, and with imprisonment and perhaps death staring him in the face, boldly advocates his Master’s cause. And with what effect on the people? They perceived that these men had been with Jesus. They saw the firmness and the rock-like character of Jesus speaking out through them. That is the iron hand beneath the silken glove of the gospel.

Peter, the denier, the failure, goes back among the men before whom he failed, where he had proved to be a coward, and there shows himself a man of courage and unquestionable bravery. The ethics of Jesus too effeminate! Not when it transforms men like that and sends them back amidst old scenes, old failures, to face old enemies, and friends who proved treacherous, amongst old and adverse conditions, and there to make good, there to wrest victory out of former defeats. This is the nature of the gospel. Christ did not promise us anything else, but a life of battle, but it was to be accompanied by its compensating conquests. The nature of the gospel is to make man face difficulties until he is crucified with Christ; until he bears in his body all through life the marks of the Lord Jesus. He set his face like a flint steadfastly toward Jerusalem, his Calvary, but his place of victory, where before he could not do many mighty works: victory out of defeat. So the disciples went back to the lake again.

But it was Christ who sent them back. The followers of Christ should always remember, that, as soldiers, they are under orders. Whatever their work, and wherever their place may be, they are under the great Commander. Back of the disciples’ order was Christ. It is he whom they must obey. Nothing can be really failure which is obedience to his command; and some bright morning the great draught of reward will come. Worry does no good. It does not make the burden lighter, the road shorter, or the duty easier. The sensible thing to do is to face the fact that is discouraging or hard, and under Christ’s command go right on. He was a wise traveler who when his horse died, said, “I must walk now,” and trudged on with cheerful energy. A good many people would have sat down beside the dead horse and spent hours in worry. Happiness, content, and success at last; all doubts answered; all dark places lighted up; heaven begun here: this is the reward of obeying and loving Christ. In this world disappointment and tribulation; yes, but good cheer in spite of them.

And then though Jesus sent the disciples bark to the same waters, he sent them more deeply into them. “Launch out into the deep,” was the command. So men are to go back, but to plunge more deeply and earnestly into their work. It is what men keep back from Christ that is the cause of most of their trouble and the lack of their spiritual growth. The young man was willing to memorize and keep a few commandments, but he failed utterly in not consecrating himself and all he had. We consecrate only a part of our life. We give the Lord only a mite of our time and substance, an hour Sunday morning or evening, as is convenient, and a painfully small offering, reserving all the rest for self, and thus we rob God. Christ gave all. O, the depth of the riches of his grace which he has bestowed upon us! It is our shallow way of doing great things that is the torture. Shallow plowing produces scant crops. Plow deeply if you would have a rich and nourishing soil. There is a shallow way of serving Christ for the emoluments of the service, or to minister to our pride, or to have social standing, not rendering him our homage from the deep principle and motive of lore. Many a man presents the gospel in a shallow way because of a consciousness of his own inefficiency. Those in Corinth thought Paul was not rhetorical enough, not verbose enough, he did not “orate.” They thought his speech contemptible, and it disturbed Paul. He felt his weakness and thought some other might do better. But in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians he breaks away from all this and finds himself; finds the heart of all service, the true motive in consecration. He shows that there can be no complete consecration of all the powers of body, soul, and mind unless love be the strong under flowing current. If we were as anxious to be good men and women as we are to be good preachers, good teachers, good business men, good house-keepers and home-makers, we must go more deeply into self and into Christ.

A man was riding in a trolley car one day and he became very much interested in watching the movements of the motorman. Sometimes the car would run forty miles an hour, and then twenty, then ten, and then stand still. But he saw no corresponding motion on the part of the motorman. They were using the third rail system. So he went to the motorman and said, “I have been watching you for some time, and have noticed the variations of speed, but I cannot see how it is done.” The motorman replied, “When I lift up this lever the speed slackens; when I press down it goes; when I press half we skid the live rail. I just keep above it and the car runs by its own momentum.”

There are many professed Christians who just skid the third rail, the rail that furnishes the power. They work or run by their own momentum, as they feel or when they want to. They do not press down on Christ, the source of all spiritual power, the great dynamic of religious activity. And that is the reason there is so little enthusiasm and fire and activity and loyalty in Christian work to-day. Why is it that so many persons are victims of the tuberculosis germ? It is because they do not breathe deeply enough and there is so little lung or chest expansion. So many lung-cells are not used at all; and hence, not being strengthened, they are susceptible or subject to any and every microbe that floats in the air. Breathe deeply, that is the law of health physically. Launch out into the deep, that is the law of health and success spiritually.

And note too, that when Jesus sent the disciples out into deeper waters, he went back with them. Take Christ with you wherever you go. Take him as your silent Partner in every business, and your life’s work will never spell failure. Jesus never sends a man into deeper water, or calls to him for a fuller consecration, without going with him. “Lo, I am with you always,” will turn any apparent failure into success.

There is a story told of a Scottish minister, a man of delicate constitution, one of those peculiarly sensitively organized creatures who have the poetic insight and the prophetic vision, who see farther and deeper than others, a man who of God can do finer things than we of coarser fibre. As a student in college in taking his evening strolls he felt that he could never walk beyond a given point. He could not bring himself to pass it. At that point his energy seemed to fail him. One day he told it all in confidence to his dearest friend. The friend said, “Give me your arm; lean hard on me,” and leaning on that arm he walked past the point in victory. We are going back to our work again on the morrow, and what will we make of it—success or failure!

Back to the same old round of duty, to meet the same old faces, to do the same dull tasks of yesterday, to the same place where perhaps we failed yesterday. But if we are working along the line of duty, if we are engaged in the work for which we are adapted, then that is Christ’s call to us for deeper consecration, for a more thorough application of all our powers. Let us remember that we are under orders, that Christ goes with us, and he who works daily and hourly under the inspiration and consciousness of the divine presence and divine help will never go down, will never wholly fail, but will be crowned with victory at last. Over such a life the divine hand will write “Success” in golden letters when he sums up life’s total. “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” To strive with God is to succeed.

He cast his net at morn where fishers toiled,
At eve he drew it empty to the shore;
He took the diver’s plunge into the sea
But thence, within his hand no pearl he bore.
He ran a race but never reached his goal;
He sped an arrow but he missed his aim;
He slept at last beneath a simple stone
With no achievements carved about his name.
Men called it failure; but for my own part
I dare not use that word; for what if Heaven
Shall question,—ere its judgments shall be read,
Not, “Hast thou won!” but only, “Hast Thou striven!”

Source: The Homiletic Review – Volume 82 published 1921

AMERICAN FOUNDATIONS

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AMERICAN FOUNDATIONS
The Rev. ARTHUR J. PENNELL, New Haven, Conn.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God.—Matt. 6: 33.

A QUESTION often arises in the minds of men whether this country is a Christian country! The status of a notion is determined by its ideals. Ideals are found in the highest aspirations and noblest ambitions of a nation’s leaders. The artist of whatever school is judged not by his first operation in the dusting of the canvas, nor by the mixing of the colors for the dubbing, nor by the first effort of his brush; a Raphael is supreme because of his Madonna. So the test of a people is to be found in their highest conception of conduct as portrayed through life and transmitted by printed page or word of mouth to posterity.

In the days preceding the printing press, man was educated in the deeds of heroism through the minstrel, thereafter by copied pages of historic accomplishments. Now through the utilization of the minerals of the earth and the harnessing of the vapors a power-driven writer presents for man’s perusal and careful study the achievements of men and nations. History is the record of the world’s noblest, and the meridian splendor of the achievement by man was when the sublime manifestation of character was exhibited to mankind through Jesus Christ.

We are brought, therefore, to the conclusion that we can estimate the ideals of a nation by its heroes—those supermen, who in the strain and stress of life’s performances stood unabashed and unafraid before every element which sought to destroy the God-germ within them. Every nation has its heroes: a Kossuth, a Garibaldi, a Napoleon, a Cromwell, a Washington or a Lincoln, a King Albert, or n Foch; but these are, so to speak, limited heroes. The world needs one who transcends limitations, whose country has no physical confines, whose nationality is lost in its broad universalism. Such is the Christ. The record of his life is the newer portion of the world’s greatest historical record now extant—the New Testament—indissolubly bound up with that other volume which in combination forms the Guide Book for human destiny. It if herein that men have ever found their ideals. It is interesting, herewith, to note, that this book, which is the basic foundation of all Christian institutions, the hope of all Christ believing souls, the inspiration of all Jesus inclined mortals, was chosen for use in the recent inauguration of a new President because in the days of yesterday’s great American utilized this time-honored volume by turning to its pages and with sincerity of heart and nobility of purpose pledged himself thereon to preserve the Constitution and to uphold the laws of this youthful republic. Surely, if apostolic succession was ever fulfilled, it was on March fourth last—when the mantle of the first American fell upon the new President, the spirit of our immortal Lincoln and the beauty of the martyred McKinley were recalled in the simple ceremony of the inauguration of the twenty-ninth President of the United States of America. Foundations, whether individual or national, to be lasting must go down deep into the past and be linked to the great minds of by-gone days. The Bible opened before that great gathering in Washington was the book which had been consecrated by the taking of the oath of office by the “Father of his country” and carried in procession at the unveiling of that monument which like a noble character towers to the skies. It was the heritage of that people of whom we are compelled to think when the word America is pronounced.

Read the Bible—read the Bible, let no religious book take its place. Through all my perplexities and distresses I never read any other book, and I never felt the want of any other. It has been my hourly study; and all my knowledge of the doctrines, and all my acquaintance with the experience and realities of religion, have been derived from the Bible only.” William Wilberforce Early American Statesman and Leader of the movement to abolish slavery

One cannot talk of “American Foundations” without recalling the struggles of the Puritan Fathers, who with their Pilgrim associates fought out the battles of religious freedom, shackled the usurping powers of overbearing government, and “with a heart for any fate” journeyed forth “seeking first the kingdom of God” to launch their project of government where, unmolested by governmental edicts and churchly intolerance, man might live and thrive.

In their native land laws were enacted, limitations were placed, punishments were meted out, restrictive measures were enforced, until the soul of God-fearing man was trammeled, religion became a mockery, and will was but a machine. Hope kept alive in these heroic souls the thought of a newer and a brighter day. Each morning’s sun dawned upon a day of more oppressive measures and firmer determination to wipe out those obnoxious people whose wills were their own. Fleeing their own country, they waited with patience in a land of friends, and for eleven years passed their time in strengthening their organization. Unlike the Huguenots who had fled to Germany, they never contemplated the losing of their individuality or of being absorbed by their surroundings. It was this desire to maintain their separate existence which impelled them to journey to lands practically unknown. At home there was no freedom, abroad there would be no separateness; migration was their only hope.

Westward this band of Pilgrims wended their way, oblivious of dangers, fearless of terrors, undaunted by hardship. These heroes of early American life were buoyed up in their distress with the thoughts of such as Andrew Melville who, on being called in question for a statement made in a public address in which he had alluded to King James VI as “God’s silly vassal,” replied, “I tell you, sir, there are two kingdoms and two kings in Scotland. There is Christ Jesus the King, and his kingdom in the Kirk,[Kirk refers to the Church] whose subject James VI is, and of whose kingdom he is not a king, nor a lord, nor a head, but a member.” And back of Melville was a people fully aroused to the conviction that there is an eternal law of God which kings no less than the meanest subject must obey. This kind grows only on the tree of Bible knowledge and religious freedom. Thus we see that the primal foundation of America is the Bible, for it was this book with these principles which the Pilgrims brought, which they utilized until they welded them into the very fiber of the nation’s life.

“The general diffusion of the Bible, is the most effectual way to civilize and humanize mankind; to purify and exalt the general system of public morals; to give efficacy to the just precepts of international and municipal law; to enforce the observance of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude, and to improve all the relations of social and domestic life.” Chancellor James Kent author of Commentaries on American Law

A second foundation of the American republic is education. Wherever the Bible is found as an open book there also will be found education for the people. Spiritual and intellectual death stalk in those lands where the Bible is closed. Those heroes of Americanism, realizing that freedom can not survive in ignorance, established America’s two greatest institutions at the same time and place. Wherever the meeting house was erected there also was the school house; and in the early days of this nation’s history most colleges and schools of learning could trace their beginnings to the inspiration of the Church. Wisely our early fathers emphasized the value and importance of mental development. The citizen of to-morrow is the student of to-day. Education enables us through reading and study to utilize the values of the past. Napoleon once said, “Show me a family of readers and I will show you the rulers of the world.” The effect of educational advance has not been confined to the little experiment in free government, but has extended its influence to the uttermost parts of the earth. Through the influence of those far-seeing heroes, penetrating into nations of different ideals, Western education has caused democracy to find lodgment even in lands hitherto uncongenial to it, and to-day the principles of our forefathers are seen in economic life and governmental reform throughout the world. So long as the institutions of learning maintain their proper position in the life of our country, the ideals of the fathers and the principles of our republic can never be lost to mankind.

A third foundation of this republic is equal opportunity. This question has ever been prominent in our history. This foundation was bought for American humanity as dearly as any privilege enjoyed by the human race. If 1776 saw the struggle for the conviction that “divine right” of government resides in the average citizen, we may as truly say that 1861-65 saw the struggle to make plain that in this republic the success of the individual does not depend upon the ability of the few to enslave the many, but that “the laborer is worthy of his hire,” and that no laborer is worthy to be hired unless he has ample opportunity to become all that is possible for him to be. As an institution, then, a false foundation was removed from under the structure of our heritage, and after reconstructing our building in harmony with those higher views, we set forth again upon the course of national life. Again in 1898 we declared to the world that the principles we held must be respected within the radius of our possibilities. The unlimited invitation which has been extended to the world’s oppressed has resulted in the gathering together within our borders of peoples whose ideals and principles are as distantly removed from ours as is the atmosphere of the frozen Arctic from the oppressive heat of the equatorial regions. This strange admixture of alien ideals with American foundations has resulted in much unrest and social disturbance. It has stirred up strife where only the peaceful waters of a summer sea had flowed. It has sometimes turned the honest workman into an avaricious traveler or into a guerrilla of social warfare and a destroyer of national industry.

“I deem myself fortunate,” said the venerable Ex-President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, “in having the opportunity—at a stage of a long life drawing rapidly to its close, to bear, at this place, the capital of the National Union, in the Hall of Representation of the North American people, in the chair of the presiding officer of an assembly representing the whole people, the personification of the great and mighty nation—to bear my solemn testimonial of reverence and gratitude to that Book of books, the Holy Bible. In the midst of the painful and perilous conflicts inseparable from public life, and at the eve of that moment when the grave shall close over them for ever, I may be permitted to indulge the pleasing reflection, that, having been taught in childhood the unparalleled blessings of the Christian gospel, in the maturity of manhood I associated with my brethren of that age, for spreading the light of that gospel over the face of the earth, by the simple and silent process of placing in the hands of every human being who needed, and could not otherwise procure it, the Book which contains the duties and admonitions, the promises and the rewards of the Christian gospel.”

At first glimpse one may possibly find in himself a feeling of pessimism; but think carefully! The foundations of this great nation are deeply rooted and well founded. When he who has been chosen by the multitude of bis fellows exercising their prerogative as citizens and voters in a land of democratic ideals steps forward to take his solemn obligation of service and to vow before God and men his determination to conserve the interests of the people; when with head bared and hand uplifted he stands before the open Bible, the basis of our Constitution, the inspiration of our fathers, the book of life’s principles; when with solemnity and with sincerity the chief executive—with no further ceremony, no pomp and splendor, no pretension or spirit of arrogance, but “with singlemindedness of purpose and humility of spirit—implores the favor and guidance of God, and can say with these, “I am unafraid and confidently face the future”—then Americans all, with one chief executive, one God, one confident hope, can rally, and imploring this same God of our American heritage, found in this open Bible of our inheritance, educated in and through our educational systems, strongly intrenched in the belief of opportunity for all, and, reiterating the injunctions of the past to the present and future, can pledge ourselves ever to uphold those ideals which were written into our life by Washington. We may resolve that the spirit of Lincoln shall ever live in us, and slavery of no race or color shall exist wherever the American flag shall fly; that ignorance shall never encircle the mind of our youth; that the Bible, which has been the spring of education, the spur to freedom of the individual, and has shown the highway to God in man’s search for the higher spirituality, shall ever be in this land an open book.

John Randolph of Roanoke, “I would not give up my slender portion of the price paid for our redemption—I would not exchange my little portion in the Son of David, for the power and glory of the Parthian or Roman empires, as described by Milton in the temptation of our Lord and Saviour—not for all with which the enemy tempted the Saviour of man….” Speaking of Randolph ex-Senator Thomas Benton in his Thirty Years’ View said; “The last time I saw him, which was in that last visit to Washington, after his return from the Russian mission, and when he was in the full view of death, I heard him read the chapter in the Revelation (of the opening of the seals), with such power and beauty of voice and delivery, and such depth of pathos, that I felt as if I had never heard the chapter read before. When he had got to the end of the opening of the sixth seal, he stopped the reading, laid the book (open at the place) on his breast, as he lay on his bed, and began a discourse upon the beauty and sublimity of the Scriptural writings, compared to which he considered all human compositions vain and empty. Going over the images presented by the opening of the seals, he averred that their divinity was in their sublimity—that no human power could take the same images, and inspire the same awe and terror, and sink ourselves into such nothingness in the presence of the ‘wrath of the Lamb’—that he wanted no proof of their Divine origin but the sublime feelings they inspired.”

Source: The Homiletic Review – Volume 82 published 1921

Prophetic: Religion the only Basis of Society by William Ellery Channing

WilliamElleryChanningReligion the only Basis of Society by William E. Channing (1780–1842); grandson of William Ellery, (1727-1827) a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence

1. Religion is a social concern; for it operates powerfully on society, contributing, in various ways, to its stability and prosperity. Religion is not merely a private affair; the community is deeply interested in its diffusion;” for it is the best support of the virtues and principles, on which the social order rests. Pure and undefiled religion is, to do good; and it follows very plainly, that if God be the Author and Friend of society, then the recognition of him must enforce all social duty, and enlightened piety must give its whole strength to public order.

2. Few men suspect —perhaps no man comprehends —the extent of the support given by religion to every virtue. No man perhaps is aware, how much our moral and social sentiments are fed from this fountain,—how powerless conscience would become, without the belief of a God,—how palsied would be human benevolence, were there not the sense of a higher benevolence to quicken and sustain it,—how suddenly the whole social fabric would quake, and with what a fearful crash it would sink into hopeless ruin,—were the ideas of a supreme Being, of accountableness, and of a future life, to be utterly erased’ from every mind.

3. And, let men thoroughly believe that they are the work and sport of chance,—that no superior intelligence concerns itself with human affairs,—that the weak have no guardian and the injured no avenger,—that there is no recompense for sacrifices to uprightness and the public good,—that an oath is unheard in heaven,—that secret crimes have no witness but the perpetrator,”—that human existence has no purpose, and human virtue no unfailing friend,—that this brief life is everything to us, and death is total, everlasting extinction,— once let them thoroughly abandon religion,—and who can conceive or describe the extent of the desolation which would follow.

4. We hope, perhaps, that human laws and natural sympathy would hold society together. As reasonably might we believe, that were the sun quenched in the heavens, cur torches would illuminate, and our fires quicken and fertilize the creation. What is there in human nature to awaken respect and tenderness, if man is the unprotected insect of a day?— And what is he more if atheism be true?

5. Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man. Appetite, knowing no restraint, and suffering, having no solace or hope, would trample in scorn on the restraints of human laws. Virtue, duty, principle, would be mocked and spurned as unmeaning sounds. A sordid self-interest would supplant every other feeling ; and man would become in fact, what the theory of atheism declares him to be,—a companion for brutes.

Gain a Greater Understanding of History by Joseph Stevens Buckminster

JosephStevensBuckminster GilbertStuart

As I have said “History is not simply a record of man’s accomplishments. Even more, History is the story / record of God’s interaction with man. It is indeed His Story” ~ CJD

Gain a Greater Understanding of History; Value of Religious Faith by Joseph Stevens Buckminster (1784 – 1812)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Having considered the objects, and the reasonableness of religious faith, it now remains to say something of its Importance. The value of religious faith principally results from two circumstances—from the fears it excites, and from the consolations it affords.

In the ordinary conduct of government, and to the well-being of society, some kind of faith is essential. Belief in the superintendence of invisible powers is not peculiar to religion. It is found in every man, who conscientiously submits to the government under which he lives; for how few of the subjects of any extensive empire have ever seen their rulers? Their authority, their edicts, their measures, nay, their very existence, are almost exclusively objects of faith. Suppose the assassin were to fear nothing but the instrument of punishment, or the thief were permitted to demand a strict demonstration of the authority of the officer who arrested him, think you society would long sustain the consequences of so great incredulity? Every man would become his own avenger, and we should revert to the barbarous independence of universal democracy. If, too, the sober part only of the community should require, that every law should be promulgated in their hearing, or that their rulers should constantly live under their ocular inspection, it is easy to foresee, that the affairs of human society would fall into the utmost confusion. We must, therefore, in the ordinary state of society, live, as seeing those that are invisible.

The fear, which faith awakens, is the foundation of the most necessary prudence. It is faith, which warns us of the invisible and approaching misfortunes, to which we are daily exposed; it is faith, which keeps up a continual, and sometimes painful interest in the dangers, which threaten the community. Without this we should rush as inconsiderately into the abode of foreign pestilence, as we now walk the streets of our own city; and be as unprepared for an approaching war, as for an impending earthquake. If we were to wait, till we could satisfy our own personal experience, in regard to some of the most common evils of life, we should find, that our ruin was accomplished, [before] the remedy was provided. The life of children is a continual exercise of faith. The prudence of parents is employed in foreseeing dangers, which the short-sightedness of the child must believe upon authority. Without filial confidence, which is only another name for faith, not one of the generations of men could hardly have reached the maturity of manhood; each successive race would profit nothing from the experience of its predecessors; and even if it were possible to continue the human species without a principle of faith, the world would have remained, to the present day, in a state of infantile ignorance, exposure and imbecility. What then! is it of so much importance, that the years of minority should be so carefully provided with this principle to secure it against the evils of present inexperience; and is it of none, that the full-grown understanding should be admonished of the alarming disclosures, which another world will make of a retributive power? Is it of no importance, that the conscience of the wicked should be awakened, before his senses tell him, that he is in anguish? Shall the narrow policy of civil government, and the feebleness of temporal punishments, be left to maintain, unsupported, the order of society? Is it of so much consequence, that, while he lives here, man should be aware of his mortality, and be provided against death, the inevitable and universal lot of mortal creatures; and of none, that he should suspect his immortality, and extend his views to the tribunal of his Judge? Shall man tremble so much at the thought of dying; and know nothing of the dread of punishment? Is it of no importance for the selfish man to know, that, by the interested pleasures in which he is absorbed, he is surely defeating his own aims, however successful they may have been? Shall the indolent, the luxurious, the dead in sensuality, the avaricious, the hard-hearted, go on accumulating wrath, and hardening their consciences by unbelief? Because we cannot be transported to the regions of future suffering, and witness the intensity of the torment, shall we rush, with all our sins upon our head, into that community of woe, and learn first by experience what we would not receive upon credit? Thank God! that such is the want, which individuals and society feel of a principle like this, that the imagination supplies it, where the reason cannot attain to undoubting conviction. Legislators have always invented something, like what revelation discloses; and the barbarous faith of the early ages has supplied, in almost every country, something, which has served the purposes of providence, till the cultivated mind was ready for the fullness of God’s communications.

In the second place, the value of faith may be estimated from the consolations it affords.

Who would look back upon the history of the world with the eye of incredulity, after having once read it with the eye of faith? To the man of faith it is the story of God’s operations. To the unbeliever it is only the record of the strange sports of a race of agents as uncontrolled as they are unaccountable. To the man of faith every portion of history is part of a vast plan, conceived ages ago in the mind of Omnipotence, which has been fitted precisely to the period it was intended to occupy. The whole series of events forms a magnificent and symmetrical fabric to the eye of pious contemplation; and, though the dome be in the clouds, and the top, from its loftiness, be indiscernible to mortal vision, yet the foundations are so deep and solid, that we are sure they are intended to support something permanent and grand. To the skeptic, all the events of all the ages of the world are but a scattered crowd of useless and indigested materials. In his mind all is darkness, all is incomprehensible. The light of prophecy illuminates not to him the obscurity of ancient annals. He sees in them neither design nor operation, neither tendencies nor conclusions. To him the wonderful knowledge of one people is just as interesting as the desperate ignorance of another. In the deliverance which God has sometimes wrought for the oppressed, he sees nothing but the fact; and in the oppression and decline of haughty empires, nothing but the common accidents of national fortune. Going about to account for events according to what he calls general laws, he never for a moment considers, that all laws, whether physical, political or moral, imply a legislator, and are contrived to serve some purpose. Because he cannot always, by his short-sighted vision, discover the tendencies of the mighty events of which this earth has been the theatre, he looks on the drama of existence around him as proceeding without a plan. Is that principle, then, of no importance, which raises man above what his eyes see or his ears hear at present, and show him the vast chain of human events, fastened eternally to the throne of God, and returning, after embracing the universe, again to link itself to the footstool of Omnipotence?

Would you know the value of this principle of faith to the bereaved? Go, and follow a corpse to the grave. See the body deposited there, and hear the earth thrown in upon all that remains of your friend. Return now, if you will, and brood over the lesson which your senses have given you, and derive from it what consolation you can. You have learned nothing but an unconsoling fact. No voice of comfort issues from the tomb. All is still there, and blank, and lifeless, and has been so for ages. You see nothing but bodies dissolving and successively mingling with the clods which cover them, the grass growing over the spot, and the trees waving in sullen majesty over this region of eternal silence. And what is there more? Nothing,—Come, Faith, and people these deserts! Come, and reanimate these regions of forgetfulness! Mothers! take again your children to your arms, for they are living. Sons! your aged parents are coming forth in the vigor of regenerated years. Friends! behold, your dearest connections are waiting to embrace you. The tombs are burst. Generations long since in slumbers are awakening. They are coming from the east and the west, from the north and from the south, to constitute the community of the blessed.

But it is not in the loss of friends alone, that faith furnishes consolations which are inestimable. With a man of faith not an affliction is lost, not a change is unimproved. He studies even his own history with pleasure, and finds it full of instruction. The dark passages of his life are illuminated with hope; and he sees, that although he has passed through many dreary defiles, yet they have opened at last into brighter regions of existence. He recalls, with a species of wondering gratitude, periods of his life, when all its events seemed to conspire against him. Hemmed in by straitened circumstances, wearied with repeated blows of unexpected misfortunes, and exhausted with the painful anticipation of more, he recollects years, when the ordinary love of life could not have retained him in the world. Many a time he might have wished to lay down his being in disgust, had not something more than the senses provide us with, kept up the elasticity of his mind. He yet lives, and has found that light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. The man of faith discovers some gracious purpose in every combination of circumstances. Wherever he finds himself, he knows that he has a destination—he has, therefore, a duty. Every event has, in his eye, a tendency and an aim. Nothing is accidental, nothing without purpose, nothing unattended with benevolent consequences. Everything on earth is probationary, nothing ultimate. He is poor—perhaps his plans have been defeated—he finds it difficult to provide for the exigencies of life—sickness is permitted to invade the quiet of his household—long confinement imprisons his activity, and cuts short the exertions on which so many depend—something apparently unlucky mars his best plans —new failures and embarrassments among his friends present themselves, and throw additional obstruction in his way—the world looks on and says, all these things are against him. Some wait coolly for the hour when he shall sink under the complicated embarrassments of his cruel fortune. Others, of a kinder spirit, regard him with compassion, and wonder how he can sustain such a variety of woe. A few there are, a very few, I fear, who can understand something of the serenity of his mind, and comprehend something of the nature of his fortitude. There are those, whose sympathetic piety can read and interpret the characters of resignation on his brow. There are those, in fine, who have felt the influence of faith.

In this influence there is nothing mysterious, nothing romantic, nothing of which the highest reason may be ashamed. It shows the Christian his God, in all the mild majesty of his parental character. It shows you God, disposing in still and benevolent wisdom the events of every individual’s life, pressing the pious spirit with the weight of calamity to increase the elasticity of the mind, producing characters of unexpected worth by unexpected misfortune, invigorating certain virtues by peculiar probations, thus breaking the fetters which bind us to temporal things, and

“From seeming evil still educing good,
And better thence again, and better still,
In infinite progression.”

When the sun of the believer’s hopes, according to common calculations, is set, to the eye of faith it is still visible. When much of the rest of the world is in darkness, the high ground of faith is illuminated with the brightness of religious consolation.

Come now, my incredulous friends, and follow me to the bed of the dying believer. Would you see in what peace a Christian can die? Watch the last gleams of thought which stream from his dying eyes. Do you see anything like apprehension? The world, it is true, begins to shut in. The shadows of evening collect around his senses. A dark mist thickens, and rests upon the objects which have hitherto engaged his observation. The countenances of his friends become more and more indistinct. The sweet expressions of love and friendship are no longer intelligible. His ear wakes no more at the well-known voice of his children, and the soothing accents of tender affection die away unheard, upon his decaying senses. To him the spectacle of human life is drawing to its close, and the curtain is descending, which shuts out this earth, its actors, and its scenes. He is no longer interested in all that is done under the sun. O! that I could now open to you the recesses of his soul; that I could reveal to you the light, which darts into the chambers of his understanding. He approaches that world which he has so long seen in faith. The imagination now collects its diminished strength, and the eye of faith opens wide. Friends! do not stand, thus fixed in sorrow, around this bed of death. Why are you so still and silent? Fear not to move—you cannot disturb the last visions which enchant this holy spirit. Your lamentations break not in upon the songs of seraphs, which enwrap his hearing in ecstasy. Crowd, if you choose, around his couch—he heeds you not—already he sees the spirits of the just advancing together to receive a kindred soul. Press him not with importunities; urge him not with alleviations. Think you he wants now these tones of mortal voices—these material, these gross consolations’ No! He is going to add another to the myriads of the just, that are every moment crowding into the portals of heaven! He is entering on a nobler life. He leaves you—he leaves you, weeping children of mortality, to grope about a little longer among the miseries and sensualities of a worldly life. Already he cries to you from the regions of bliss. Will you not join him there? Will you not taste the sublime joys of faith? There are your predecessors in virtue; there, too, are places left for your contemporaries. There are seats for you in the assembly of the just made perfect, in the innumerable company of angels, where is Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and God, the judge of all.