[...]-HAND; and, after being transcribed at [...] by the said T. STORY, and [...] Permission.

LONDON, Printed: PROVIDENCE, Re-printed and Sold by JOHN CARTER, at Shakespear's Head. M,DCC,LXIX.


HAVING examined these Dis­courses, I find them agreeable to what I delivered in the Meetings, to the best of my Remembrance.

THOMAS [...]


THOUGH the usefulness of PREACHING is universally acknowledged among Chri­stians, yet we find they differ in opinion with regard to the manner of performing it, and the qualifica­tions necessary to the preacher. A man is generally required to go through a course of learning at a col­lege or an academy before he be admitted to the mini­sterial office; which done, his usual method of in­structing others, is, by reading in public a discourse previously studied and penned in private. But there are some who think that a good life and conversation, and a sincere heart, assisted by a divine influence, though not accompanied with the knowledge of the learned languages, are sufficient to constitute a minister of the gospel; and that the best and most successful instructions are delivered without any pre­meditation of the preacher, when under such a con­cern of mind as would render his silence incon­sistent with his duty. This last is well known to be the opinion of the people called QUAKERS; and I must acknowledge myself to be of the same sentiment.

'TIS commonly objected, that an extempore preacher must needs be liable to frequent inaccura­cies of expression; that his language is seldom gram­matical; that it is very difficult for him to avoid tau­tologies, [Page iv] and to observe that method and coherence which are necessary to the beauty of a discourse, &c.

THESE objections I allow to be true, as to the matter of fact; but of small weight when the ten­dency and design of preaching are considered; which being to inform the mind, has no further re­gard to the ear, strictly speaking, than what is ne­cessary towards being understood.—Not that I de­ny or despise the beauties of language, and the force of eloquence, or believe the QUAKERS less sensible of them than others are; but as the amend­ment of the heart is, or ought to be, principally in the preacher's view, they think a casual slip of ex­pression very excusable, while his meaning is obvious to such as give a proper attention.

PLAINNESS of language in a preacher is certainly most agreeable to the simplicity of the gospel, however it may be rediculed by those who will not give themselves time to consider the nature of Chri­stianity, or by those who endeavour to make every thing mysterious in religion, in order to serve their own private purposes. It is likewise most suitable to the capacities of mankind in general: [...] believe it will hardly be denied, that a plain [...] discourse is preferable to a learned speculative only if it be considered, that the former may be of uni­versal benefit, whereas the latter can be profitable (or rather pleasing) only to a few.

AS I hinted before, I would not be understood to blame or depreciate the accomplishments of learn­ing and eloquence: They are certainly ornaments to any man, and more especially to a preacher. But though the QUAKERS esteem these qualifications as useful, yet because they deny them to be absolutely necessary and essential to a gospel minister, they have been condemned as despisers of science, and obstinate [Page v] encouragers of ignorance, even in their teachers, in whom knowledge ought most to abound. Which wrong notion has so much prevailed, that men of tolerable capacities will enter their meetings with a contemptuous smile; and, as they come with a full expectation of hearing nothing but nonsense, are very unwilling to own themselves disappointed.

I AM far from insinuating, by what I have said, that the following discourses are offered to the world as a specimen of uncommon learning and eloquence; they being neither preached with a view of being made public, nor at first taken down with that in­tent: Nor are they chose on account of their excel­ling the discourses generally delivered by the same person; for, as they were spoken without the par­ticular design of publication, it is improbable they should contain any particular excellencies.

WHEN they were transcribed from the short-hand, and shewn to several friends who heard them, they appeared so full of sound doctrine and argument, that it was thought they might bear printing, with a few trifling alterations; which were accordingly made, agreeably to what the author and some of the auditors could recollect of their first shape; he declining to alter them in any other respect, that they might keep their genuine simplicity, notwith­standing a few insignificant slips that may possibly have escaped him.

AS these discourses are offered to the public as they were first delivered by one engaged in a pretty con­stant course of preaching, without any other design than the edification of his hearers, and publish­ed with little or no improvement, the allowance which is natural on these accounts will, I believe, be as much indulgence as they will stand in need of in the eyes of the judicious.

[Page vi]BEFORE I conclude, I cannot help observing, with much pleasure, how superior these are, even in their present form, to many sermons which are daily published by men who have spent a number of years in studying the art of making them, and who never produce one without labour and mature deliberation.—In discourses offered by such men, faults are much less excusable, it being the profes­sed business of their lives to avoid them; great part of which is assigned to the study of a science unknown to the first promulgators of the gospel, that of our school-divinity; which has been of very little service to mankind, unless by introducing a vast number of subtle and perplexing distinctions, unintelligable definitions, and such-like stuff, where­in some of the most famous modern preachers are peculiarly skilled; but which can never in the least promote the main design of Christianity, the putting an end to sin, and the introducing of righteousness.

I HAVE nothing more to add, than my earnest wish, that these discourses may be read with cool­ness, and without prejudice or partiality; and that the divine blessing may attend the perusal of them, which alone can make them effectual to answer the design of the preacher, and the desire of


A DISCOURSE delivered at the Meeting-House in Gracechurch-street, LONDON, June 12, 1737.

I HAVE in remembrance a very short pre­cept of a man of understanding, though not under the character of a Jew or Christian, which, I think, may be well worthy of the no­tice of every one here; and it is this: ‘Know Thyself.’ There is not a more useful knowledge than this, except the knowledge of God; and if we do not know ourselves, how shall we know the Lord? I have observed, as I sat in silence, wait­ing upon God in this meeting, that all matter is created of God, as well that which is inert and lifeless, as the living creatures; and all matter that we are acquainted with revolves from form to form, but there is no annihilation of any.

THE plants of the earth observe a succession from age to age: From small seeds they spring up, and proceed from stature to stature, after their kinds, till they arrive at the perfections assigned them; and then also they gradually decline, and others take place from their seeds, and as their offspring.

THE living creatures also observe the laws pre­scribed them; after their manner producing their [Page 8] own species, which renew, increase, decrease, and succeed, from generation to generation, as the others do; so that there is no certain continuance of any particular.

THE next thing I have in view is, the very low state in which we mortals are first produced into this world. In that state we have no knowledge, no understanding, but are like the beasts of the field, and other animals, or even more helpless than they, and incapable of any law but that of nature, which we cannot break.

AND, being endued with five senses, we grow up by imperceptible gradations in the use of them, and proceed from stature to stature, and strength to strength, both of body and mind, to the degrees of which we are severally capable, as variously circum­stanced, for we are not alike in either.

THE mind, dwelling in the body, could never perceive, or apprehend, the things that are without, or have any knowledge of them, but by the senses, through the organs of the body adapted to that end. The mind within by these begins to take notice of things without; and every creature and thing, that we see and observe, exhibits its own idea to the sense; and as we grow up, more objects are frequently presented, and the mind which hears, sees, tastes, smells, and handles, by the organs of the body, gradually becomes more and more furnished with ideas, which, in time, it is enabled to collate and compare; and as the understanding is by this means enlarged, it now begins to attend to causes and their effects, and to form some conjuctures of the why and why not of things, whence they are, why they are thus, and not otherwise: And as they differ in their forms, so likewise in their natures, virtues, and ends, it is the mind and understanding, being [Page] informed of the outward creation by the senses, that deduces this consequence from those premises; that they, and we ourselves also, must have an au­thor of our being, all-wise, almighty, eternal and all-good, holy, righteous, just, and true, wor­thy above all to be sought after, known, loved, feared, honoured and obeyed. Yet as our first state in this world is only animal, before we arrive at a competent degree of consideration and understand­ing, or knowledge of ourselves, or value of our im­mortal souls; we are by the perpetual presence of objects adapted to our senses, and a natural propen­sity to pursue the sight of the eye, the hearing of the ear, and the delights which the other senses, seated in the natural mind and corporeal frame, can afford, and which are the chief good and of the highest esteem in our view, as not having yet tasted of any thing of a superior nature or kind; we are by these (I say) so strongly habituated and biassed to the pursuit of these objects (though most un­worthy of our pains) that we are apt to proceed in this manner, without a due search into ourselves, what we are, and why we were created, and pro­duced here in this world, and by whom, and what the proper end of our being, as if to no other pur­pose but to gratify our senses, and live in sensual pleasures and delights, as others the lower animals do, and like the brutes of the field, which feed on the fruits by the roots of the trees, and rest under their shades, and never look up to see whence the food and shelter come, or consider their own being and end.

THUS the generality of mankind live, for a time, in this present world. Whilst in this manner of being, they live and die, and are never acquainted with themselves: But he that perfectly knows him­self, [Page 10] perceives that man is an abridgement of the whole creation of God, and has made a great step towards knowing it. But if we are not able rightly to know ourselves, how should we come to the knowledge of the most high, our creator? And if we could know all the creation, and anatomize every part of the matter of it, and distinctly account for the manner of its cohesion and existence, and knew all that is possible to be known of it, and had all the knowledge of the angels of God in heaven; though the knowledge and contemplation of things in the mind and understanding affords an intellec­tual pleasure, superior to that of the senses; yet all this would not render us compleatly happy, even in this present world; we may live and die unhap­py notwithstanding: Neither would the gratifying of all our senses and appetites, if without account and with impunity, alter the case at all.

WE pursue, with diligence, those objects which promise us delight in the views we have of them at a distance; but when obtained, though with diffi­culty and hazard, and enjoyed, they do not answer the expectations we have formed, in our imagina­tions concerning them; but perish with the using, and we are disappointed. It is therefore most pro­per that, as reasonable creatures, we pursue that satisfaction, and those things, which are real, per­manent, and everlasting.

WHAT is that, therefore, which makes mankind everlastingly happy, and gives him full satisfaction? It is the knowledge of the creator of all things; of the true and living God, and not of the things that are made only. And it is the Lord himself that, in infinite goodness and mercy, so qualifies the hearts and minds of mankind, that we are made capable of knowing him, and of being united to [Page 11] him, and enjoying him, through that blessed medi­um which he, in his divine wisdom and goodness, hath been pleased to prepare.

AND all that are come to any competent degree of understanding, thinking and consideration, may conclude, that since the creator hath produced and appointed some things agreeable unto us, as his creatures, in which we have great pleasure and de­light, lawful and allowable, as objects and subjects both of our senses and understandings; how much greater pleasure and satisfaction, and more perma­nent and certain, must there be, in the knowledge and enjoyment of the creator himself, who is the root and fulness of all divine pleasure unspeakable, and endureth unchangeably for ever.

THE sensible pleasures created of God, and given unto man in this life (not the false and counter­feit ones forged by man) though agreeable to his nature and state, and justly and reasonably propor­tioned and bounded, are but for a short season, and attended with such degrees of alloy as often ren­der them null: But when God is pleased so to qualify the mind of man, that the creator himself becomes the chief, if not only, object of his love, desire, and contemplation; then man finds in the Lord all that his heart could desire or think, and more abundantly, according to a saying of an ex­perienced man of God; ‘eye hath not seen (said he) nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath pre­pared for them that love him.’ And if we love God, we shall likewise love mankind in the same love; for I remember what an apostle of the Lord Christ said, treating on that subject, ‘if a man loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how shall he love God, whom he hath not seen?’

[Page 12]NOW what way, and by what means, shall we mortals attain to this experimental knowledge of God, so needful and desirable, as the perfection and establishment of our being? For when we look upon the heavens and the earth, and things that therein are, so far as we can behold them, reasoning from the effects to the cause, we conclude that he is, and that he is the cause of all things, and we cannot do otherwise as rational beings. And contemplat­ing God, we must needs determine, as intelligent creatures, that he hath all those divine attributes we commonly attribute unto him; as that he is an eternal, incomprehensible spirit, or mind, omnipre­sent, omniscient, almighty, all-good, and unchange­able: And that he hath all those moral characters usually ascribed to him in the holy scriptures, as righteousness, holiness, justice, mercy, truth, faith­fulness: Where also, after the manner of men, even the affections and passions of mortals are ascribed to him, as anger, hatred, fury, revenge, jealousy; as also coporeal parts and shapes, as head, arms, hands, feet; whereas those human properties and parts, (considered as in men) are not really and formally in God, but in the creatures by whom he worketh.

BUT though the earth sets forth his handy work, and the heavens his power and glory; and though the holy scriptures report of the most high those things that are true, yet all this (as to us mortals) is but as an historical account, or a report; for we still remain, in point of experience, ignorant of him of whom it is thus declared, though we have be­lieved it as we ought. We are at a distance still; there is a vast chasm, and as a fixed gulf between the creator and us, all these things notwithstanding.

THE scripture declares, as from the mouth of Christ, that God is a spirit, and we believe it; [Page 13] but who can conceive any proper idea of a spirit by the word, what he is, and how he appears to the mind? He is only known to the mind by his own influences, through a holy medium of his own adapting; by the sensible operation and effects of his wisdom and power there. And as every object exhibits its own proper idea to the eye, and de­clares itself thereby in the light, as a proper and necessary medium of seeing, without which we could not have formed any idea of things at all; so likewise we can form no idea of God, but what he himself is pleased to give, and in what manner, and by what medium soever he makes himself known; and is to all mankind whatever he pleases to appear to be, and that is according to the various states of men. And to the faithful, holy, sincere, and obedient, he is love; but to the unfaithful, unclean, hypocrites, and disobedient, he is a con­suming fire and destroyer; and we are one to another whatever he thinks proper to make us.

AND I give you a simile in the works of God; that as we can form no idea of the body of the sun in the firmament of heaven but what himself exhi­bits, nor can we see him but by the efflux of his own light, as from its proper center, which darting up­on the eye when in its rectitude, directs it to the object: And as we have no words, or means, by which we can convey a proper idea of light to the understanding of one that is born blind, or the manner of its discovering objects to the sight; even so, there are no words in any language I am ac­quainted with, whereby we can convey the idea we conceive of God, by his own act of manifesting, to any other, but to such only as have the like ideas from the same manner of appearance in themselves.

[Page 14]WE express abundance of words concerning God, and the things of God, very little under­stood by the greatest part of mankind to whom we speak: Therefore we direct all to the Lord himself, that he may teach them true knowledge and wis­dom; the knowledge of himself, in a state of re­tirement, and in the silence of all the imaginations, cogitations, agitations, desires, affections, passions and hurries of the natural mind, which is ever in action and fluctuating, passing from object to object, till the Almighty, by the manifestation of his eter­nal word, and the influences of his holy spirit and grace, commands silence in the mind, inspires her with understanding, and works a change there.

GOD speaks to the understanding by the opera­tion of the word of his divine power, by revealing the things of God through the inshining of the eternal light thereof in the mind: And when the most high so qualifies the mind, by his work of sanctification therein, that he himself becomes the only object, and the mind is settled and stayed upon him alone; then all the creatures of God, and all the enjoyment of them, is lost, for the time, and of no regard in comparison of the great and glorious creator of all, and the divine and unutterable peace, joy, and consolation, found in him, even in this present world, so far as our pre­sent mode of being can bear the earnest and sure evidence of the fulness, when time to us here shall be no more.

I NOW proceed with what is further before me, as I may have assistance, by the grace of God, and utterance, for we speak, from time to time, those things that are renewed or opened in our minds and understandings, without any particular application to any one; the Lord himself, knowing every [Page 15] state, directs matters to particular persons, or to the general, as it may please him.

I SAY then that mankind are degenerated, being misled by their own senses and sensual appetites, into the love of the creatures (things without them) and themselves, and so become strangers, and alienated from the life of God, through their own darkness and corruptions; and peradventure the greatest of all that are here have been so, as well as myself: Yet still we find something in ourselves, admonish­ing us of our mistakes, in our course through this world; and we ought to reflect, and consider what this is, which many times surprizes us with the re­membrance of things past, which we had forgot for some years.

THIS is one who has wrote down all our failings, as it were, in his book; and he opens the leaves thereof, and shews us all the errors of our lives, and brings every thing to remembrance in our minds and understandings, one thing after another; and then, and not till then, we have a right foun­dation for repentance and sorrow for sin (for he who never sees his sins, can never repent) and then, as the apostle saith, "sin becomes exceeding sinful;" they are ever before us, so that the mind becomes thereby heavy laden and oppressed.

AND then, and not till then, we mortals are wil­ling to cry for a saviour, O Lord, a saviour, or I am undone for ever! How then comes the knowledge of sin? It is through the love of God, who is not willing that any should live, and die, and perish therein. It is made manifest by the brightness of that all-discover­ing holy medium, which the most high father of all hath mercifully provided for that great and blessed end; that mankind might be redeemed, made free [Page 16] from sin, and the corruptions of the mind, through sensual lusts.

WE all must own, that the wisdom of God is himself, the power of God is himself, the spirit of God is himself: He is that eternal spirit, and was never without his wisdom and power from ever­lasting. He, therefore, hath been pleased to as­sume, and unite unto himself, the whole human nature; not only the intelligent reasonable mind, but also the mortal part of man, which is the body, by which he might come near unto mankind, in our own nature and likeness, under the character and name of Jesus Christ, who in the holy scrip­ture is called the wisdom of God; and the power of God; and by John, the evangelist, is called the word of God, by whom the world was made, and all things that therein are. And I conclude none are so weak as to think the body of Christ is the wis­dom and power of God, but a miraculous effect of that cause, and, as the apostle compares it, is as a veil, whereby he veiled his divine nature, for a time, from every eye.

AND the human mind, or reasonable soul of Christ, is likewise a veil, but of a more excellent kind than the body, though congenial with the intellectual mind of mankind; ‘for he was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,’ (according to the language of holy writ.)

GOD dwelleth in inaccessible divine light, which no eye can penetrate, which no soul can with open face behold; therefore the Lord hath condescended to veil his glory, by assuming a human mind, essentially united to himself, thereby accommodat­ing him so to the mind of man, as to appear and be manifested therein; and he who thus appears [...] the true God, as it is written, ‘God, who in the [Page 17] beginning commanded light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face (or appearance) of Jesus Christ.’

In the minds of mankind he discovers to our understandings whatever is proper for us to know of himself, or our duty toward him, and one to­ward another. The Lord begins with small things, wherein if we are faithful and obedient, he makes more and more of himself, and the enjoyment of his divine presence and goodness, and his just and holy ways, known unto us; but if we err and dis­obey, though but in small things, the mind is op­pressed thereby till we return and amend.

THIS is the beginning of the manifestation of the law of the spirit of life, which makes free from the law of sin and death, the revelation of the mind of Christ. He manifests in the minds of mankind such things as are proper, according to our several degrees and capacities, beginning with little low things, as a school-master, till we are capable of more, and then gradually he opens in us the mysteries of his kingdom. He that hates instruction, hates the instructor, according to what he saith under the character of wisdom, ‘how long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity, and ye fools hate knowledge? Turn ye at my re­proof, and I will pour forth of my spirit upon you.’

THEREFORE hear the reproof of instruction in your minds and understandings, that the spirit of wisdom may be poured forth upon you; that you may first become proficients, and perfect in all moral righteousness and duties, by the dictates of this wisdom, which if we despise and refuse, we never can attain; and then, as the Lord Jesus hath said, ‘if [Page 18] you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will make you rulers over greater riches?’

IF men are not righteous and just one toward another in temporal things, how can they expect the divine influences of the immortal spirit and power of God, the true and eternal riches? If we are not faithful to the discoveries and dictates of the law of the spirit of life, the light of the divine word, manifested in our minds, how can we ex­pect to experience the effusion of divine love in our hearts, which is the greatest blessing, and highest attainment, human kind are capable of in this life? This is that eternal life, this is the grace of God which is come by Christ, and is of an everliving nature; but if man refuses this, and goes on from one evil to another, he rejects that eternal life, and by degrees degenerates more and more, till he be­comes altogether sensual as a brute beast, as it is written, ‘the spirit of a beast goes downward, but the spirit of a man goes upward.’ For the man that ascends by degrees of virtue and holiness, one degree after another, till he comes to be united unto God, through Christ, the blessed medium, in whom is the fulness of all divine virtue, that soul hath the enjoyment of the divine presence in this world, in a manner not to be expressed by the language of men or angels.

IN this great city there are many temptations, and opportunities to hurtful things; and I have sometimes considered the youth among us to be in great danger of corruption thereby: But the holy spirit of God strives with you, and would gather every soul to himself. O! therefore consider your­selves, and know your own inclinations, thoughts and imaginations! what they are upon, what they [Page 19] are seeking after, whereunto they tend, whether toward good or evil, to the right hand or to the left, the broad or narrow way.

SOME are so bent toward the mean, low, and sordid pleasures of an animal and sensual life, that they could even wish, for the sake thereof, that they had no future state; and some are ready to wish, O! that I were but as the little bird upon the tree, that I might go where I please, and do what I will, without any account of my actions in this world, or in another, if there be any yet to come! There is nothing more dreadful, and to which a reasonable thinking mind is more averse, than to remain without the knowledge of God, and not to believe a future state. I have often thought any tolerable being is better than none at all; I would therefore have your minds so ennobled, as to contemplate the divine Being, consider the great Creator, and how much better it is to become acquainted with him, become like him, and to live forever with him, and in his favour, than to be an­nihilated. It is no small matter, indeed, to be acquainted with God, so as to be united unto him; it is the greatest advancement that the nature of man is capable of.

AS concerning moral precepts, and all the com­mandments of God, they are given altogether for our good, and it is our highest interest to observe them. It is the good pleasure of God that man­kind should live socially and amicably, and there­fore he hath given us social precepts; and that we may be able to do them, he hath breathed into our souls the breath of life from himself. When the love of God is shed abroad in the heart of man, it raises the soul to God, as its first and chief object; and then likewise it flows forth towards mankind, [Page 20] in every duty of friendship and kindness; and hea­ven will be upon earth, when that part of the prayer which Christ taught his disciples is come to pass, ‘thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven:’ Though many are daily using these words, and seeming to pray, yet they do not be­lieve that it ever can be; ‘and what is not of faith is sin:’ But if it had not been possible, and the mind and purpose of the father, that mankind should, in due time, be advanced into such a state, in this life, as to do the will of God on earth, so far as made manifest and required, and according to the mode and end of their being here, Christ would not have taught his disciples to pray after that manner. Those will be glorious days indeed, and if we can attain to that state in our time, we shall be examples to others, our cotemporaries, and those that may succeed us in ages yet to come.

ALL the angels of God in heaven, the sera­phims and cherubims, and spirits of just men made perfect there, the general assembly and church of the first-born, continually do the will of God, and rejoice without ceasing, in beholding the face of their heavenly father, their creator; they surrender their crowns at the feet of God and the lamb, the redeemer and saviour of mankind.

WE are satisfied and certain of the truth of the being of God, by the works of his creation without us, and by our own existence, as not originally self-productive: Let us not rest here, but also seek after the knowledge of God, that we may be ac­quainted with him, and enjoy his divine presence, in a state of a reconciliation and acceptance with him; which is not by any thing that we ourselves, of ourselves, can do, but by the work of God in us.

[Page 21]THE first work of God in man, in order to this knowledge, is to convince him of the errors of life, and of his ignorance, by his divine light, wis­dom, or power; and the first work of the mind of man is, to believe, trust, and confide therein, as its immediate object; as it is written, ‘this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom God hath sent.’ Again, ‘believe in the light, that you may be children of light:’ That is children of God, who is that light. It is necessary, therefore, that mankind first believe in the divine convincing power, or Christ working in themselves: As it is also said, ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, of two making one new man, and so making peace.’

MANY are upon the wing in this present age, flying from the divine truth, which they reject, and laying hold of their own reason, as sufficient for them in the things of God, and knowledge of him. Dost thou think, friend, that thy reason is the eter­nal divine word and wisdom of God, by whom the worlds were made? Thou wilt hardly adventure to say so, upon a solid thought. Thy reason, if thou knowest what it is, thou wilt find to be a con­stituent part, or property, of thy own being as a creature, thou canst not be a man without it and thy understanding. Thy reason or understanding is a property essential to thyself, not self-informing, nor self-sufficient in the knowledge of God, of whom thy reason can form no idea adequate to his eternal being. Thou must be under the dictates of a superior, and not thyself. He who informs, and he who is informed, are not the same; the creator is not the creature, nor is the creature the creator: Thou with thy reason art a creature, and a weak one too; the divine informing light and [Page 22] wisdom, the eternal Logos (what word [...]all I use to be urderstood?) is thy creator; thou must learn of him, and not of thyself; thou must deny thy­self, and be his disciple: It is he that inspires the understanding with divine knowledge and wisdom.

THE Lord God is eternal unapproachable light, and thou with all thy reasoning, and self-agitation and cogitation, art darkness, until he himself arise in thee, as the brightness of seven days, and give thee light and understanding. The divine wisdom and power is distinct from all creatures: I know very well what I say, and therefore speak it boldly; for I had reason, and could reason as other men, concerning God and the things of God, of whom I had heard and read, and spoke against this way before I knew what it was, as many now do, and before I knew the truth of God as a director of mankind, or that the Lord Jesus Christ is that truth and informer.

SOME men argue very perversly by their reason, or what they call so; which being baffled and de­praved through sensual lusts, is enslaved and made subservient to the accomplishment of them, so that they mean sensuality when they say reason.

NOW I would have all you young ones to be careful and circumspect, for it is for your sakes that I am thus concerned at this time; that you may all trust in the living God, and not lean to your own understandings as natural creatures, but embrace the truth freely, and be not ashamed of the heart-tendering work of it in you; for he that is ashamed of the work and word of God, rejects it, and that eternal life that comes by him; and of him will the Lord be ashamed, and will reject him in that day, when all nations shall stand before the dreadful throne of his eternal judgment, to re­ceive [Page 23] sentence and reward, according as their works have been.

I WOULD have you consider therefore your own minds, with all the faculties and properties of them, and your own thoughts, and know them, and what you receive for truth in that ground: Seek for a more certain and excellent guide and director, something that can inform your understandings with certainty, that will rectify all errors in you, and bring you forth in his own image, in the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ: Your minds will then come to be invested, indued, and adorned with all the powers of the cross against your animal corruptions; the sweet properties and qualities of the human na­ture of the Son of God you will be partakers of, and of the divine nature in him: You will love God above all, you will love all mankind, and hate none: You will be social, for in the Son of God are all the perfections of the human nature exalted and glorified, and in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the fulness of the God­head substantially or essentially: I shall therefore direct and leave you unto him. Look to your own standing and perseverance, that so you may be uni­ted unto God, that he may become your life, and you live in him, and with him, for evermore. To God therefore, I say, and to the word of his grace, to the conduct of divine wisdom, love, and good­ness, which leadeth in the way of righteousness and holiness, I desire to leave you, and resign my­self, that we all may be transformed into the image of God, and sing praises unto him whilst here in this present world, and in that which is to come, thanksgiving and honour, dominion and glory, unto him who is worthy, both now and to all eternity.


A DISCOURSE delivered at the Metting-House in Gracechurch-street, LONDON, August 14, 1737.

IF we can spare time from the multitude of thoughts and hurries in our minds concerning the things in this world, we shall find what our minds are most of all engaged in, and our desires most after, whether tending more towards good or evil.

THERE is hardly any desire engages the mind more than that of knowledge; this was the way by which, according to the testimony of holy scrip­ture, the mind of mankind was first drawn out from the love, obedience, and enjoyment of the creator, into the love of himself and the creatures, and disobedience to his maker; which reminds me of that saying of the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘a man's foes shall be they of his own houshold:’ Which may be applied to the evil thoughts and desires of the heart, as well as to domestics and relations, in another sense, without us.

[Page 25]EVIL thoughts are as so many images and re­presentations of hurtful things, in the imagina­tion; and when such are entertained in the mind till the desires be inflamed, that is evil in the nature and tendency of it, and sin in the sight of God, if it should never be brought forth in­to word or action; according to that saying of an apostle of Christ, ‘lust conceived brings forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.’

AND, according to the doctrine of Christ, all sin begins in the thoughts, and defiles the mind; and so long as the mind of mankind remains defiled, it can never be united unto God, nor accepted of him. When the Pharisees pleased and valued themselves upon an outside cleanness, in washing of hands, and divers other like clean­sings, they seem to have been generally ignorant of this inward defilement, and need of inward wash­ing; therefore the Lord Christ reproved them, saying; ‘not that which goes into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.’ Matt. xv. 18, 19. James iii. 6. ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts. Here the Son of God, who knows the hearts of men, and what is in man, begins at the root of all evil in us: Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, and mur­der, adultery, fornication, thefts, falsewitness, and divers other gross sins he there mentions.

AND all things inconsistent with the mind and attributes of God, are first presented in the imagi­nation; and as the desires of us mortals are enkin­dled toward any thing inconsistent with him, which brought forth into word or action would be hurtful, and destructive to others, or one another; as he who knows all things, every the most secret [Page 26] thought, imagination, desire and purpose of the heart, whether good or evil, being ever fully open to him; as he loveth all mankind, he often premo­nishes us of the evils of this world, and the con­sequences of them before hand, and reproves and condemns us in our hearts for them, when finished or committed; approved in well-doing, or ab­staining from evil, by a sensible consolation, arising from his countenance and good presence: And this the Lord doth by the operation of his holy spirit, word, or divine essential truth (which is the same, though expressed in divers terms) that com­ing thereby to the knowledge of evil, we may re­pent and forsake it, be redeemed from it, and escape the future dreadful consequences of per­sisting therein, and of being cut off from God and the joys of his salvation, and determined under condemnation for ever; and that we may be ad­vanced above what we are by nature in the first state, and become like unto God, in all righteous­ness, holiness, goodness and truth: For God never gave a law to mankind but with a view to the good of man, that the nature of man might be advanced above what it was, and that he might be preserved and redeemed from these enemies, and from all the miserable consequences of submitting to them, join­ing with them, cleaving to them, and being incorpo­rated with them. All evil is seated in the mind; and tho' the body and mind be connected by divine wis­dom and power, and are one man for the time of uni­on, yet we see they are separable; and then the mind subsisting in a separate state, remains properly the man in another mode of being; and when the mind is departed, the body soon corrupts, dissolves, loses its form, and returns to earth, properly and truly so: But during the union of body and mind we are [Page 27] in a state of probation, and may all possibly be re­conciled unto God, renouncing these his and our enemies, and be saved. Yet if we give way to evil desires and actions, and the mind continues to be thereby defiled, and in a manner incorporated and united therewith, we may arrive at last to such a dismal state, as that our minds can never be sepa­rated therefrom, or saved, or have the enjoyment of the good presence of God, in a state of reconci­liation with him in eternal bliss.

MAN'S own evil desires, when they have obtain­ed so far the ascendent over him as to be incorpo­rated with his mind, which is of an immortal na­ture, as they are often his tormenters even in this life: so they may continue to be in eternity, when the union between the body and mind is dissolved.

TO illustrate this matter, I will suppose that a man hath a violent desire, and most ardent lust, to know such and such things as are neither proper or possible for him ever to know; or to possess any thing which is improper for him, and which he can never obtain: If he should die in that state, and his mind be for ever fixed in that condition, those desires remaining in his mind for ever, after de­parted from the body, would be tormenters suffi­cient, without any other punishment, and render that soul sufficiently unhappy to all eternity: So that sin, and the consequences of it, is a punishment sufficient in its own nature, if there were no other. Violent desires therefore after what cannot be ob­tained, or, being possible, is inexpedient or unlaw­ful, and consequently hurtful, are to be avoided and shunned, and suppressed in their first appear­ance in the mind, lest they increase by indulgence or neglect, have the ascendent, and reign in the mind, so as that they cannot be subdued.

[Page 28]WE see a great many things here in this world which we desire, and do not obtain; and if we had them, they would be really hurtful to us, though not so in their own nature, but so unto us, by rea­son of our misapplication and abuse of them, or ourselves, or one another, in them; and therefore God, in goodness and mercy, is come near unto the minds of mankind, or rather has brought us near unto himself, through that holy and blessed medium whom he hath prepared, and by whom he convinceth the heart of man, and directs him to the choice of the best things; that is, the Lord Jesus Christ, by his inward and spiritual appearance; of whom I may speak a little as he may be pleased to make way in my understanding, and give me strength and utterance; and I would not have [...] to be to any of you in vain.

WE mortals do naturally desire after knowledge; and it is good, well applied to the useful things of this life; and we have heard many excellent say­ings, on divers subjects and occasions, during our time in this world, concerning matters of the high­est importance, and have likewise read of them; yet many of them we may not have understood, and forgot most of them, through negligence or disre­lish.

BESIDES, if through much labour, cost and dili­gence, we have attained to great knowledge in ma­ny things; and think ourselves wise and learned, and therefore set a high and over-value upon our­selves, and are thereby exalted and puffed up, and are also esteemed of others, as men of letters, un­derstanding and knowledge; what would all this avail? Or of what use would it be in a future state? For we must soon be divested of mortal bodies, through whose organs we have attained such know­ledge, [Page 29] seated in a natural or carnal mind; and then all that knowledge will end as a flash, vanish, and be of use to us no more.

LET us therefore hearken to the divine voice of the Most High, our Creator himself, by whom we are graciously invited to the most excellent, neces­sary, and permanent knowledge, wherein we can­not offend him; that knowledge which is accom­panied with life eternal, and will remain settled in the pure mind to all eternity, and is to be learned and had of God only, who hath said, ‘be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, and I will be exalted in the earth.’ It is by this knowledge the Most High will exalt himself, or manifest his eternal power, excellency and exaltation, as the creator and upholder of all things, in all nations, and in all people throughout the earth, in his own time.

BUT what kind of stillness do you think this is? We are all still in this meeting; we have been so a considerable time, and can do the like when we please; and good manners, and regard one to ano­ther as men, on such occasions, will induce us to be silent, as to any outward noises, indecencies, or disturbance; but the stillness, or silence, which God requires, is of the mind; from all the hurries, and runnings, and willings, and imaginations of mankind, that have any manner of tendency to­ward evil: Silence of the clamorous importunities of the desires in the heart, save toward God only, in a humble resignation of mind and will unto him, in a pure act of hope, faith and love; that so the Lord himself may be heard in the mind, as we are attentive to the operations, and soft and tender whisperings of the holy spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, whereby he does inform the understanding, [Page 30] and reveal himself and the Father; for this is life eternal, saith Christ, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. This stillness therefore is in order to that knowledge.

AGAIN, ‘No man knoweth the Son but the Fa­ther, neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will re­veal him.’ Let us therefore examine ourselves, and consider these sayings, every one for one; what do I know of these things? Many of us may and do believe these things, as we read them in the ho­ly scriptures of truth, or hear them; but what do we experience? Do we know that the Father speaks in the secret of the hearts of men by the voice of his Son Christ, the holy spirit of Christ; the divine wisdom and power by whom he created the worlds, cloathed with a holy human mind, congenial to the minds of mankind, in their pristine state?

WE see what the Lord Christ saith of himself; he calls himself the TRUTH; "I am the way" (saith he) ‘and the truth, and the life: No man com­eth unto the Father but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: And from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.’ He is the way to God the Father, the truth, and divine and eternal life.

DIVERS of the prophets of God, especially Isaiah and Daniel, by the spirit of Christ which was in them, prophesied of the coming of Christ to the Jews, many hundreds of years before he came, so clearly and plain, as if they had rather been writing histories of things past, than prophesying of things to come: And he came accordingly in the flesh, born of the Virgin Mary, and appeared among them for a time, and in him were fulfilled all the prophecies concerning the MESSIAH. And having [Page 31] finished all other the great ends of his coming, in the conclusion of all, he yielded up his precious soul upon the cross, a propitiatory and acceptable sacrifice, declaratory of the love and mercy of the Father to the whole world.

BUT a little before his departure he foretold his disciples of another administration, and more di­vine manner of appearance of himself than that was, to those who believed in him, and followed him. You may read at your leisure, in the 14th, 15th and 16th chapters of John the evangelist, many di­vine and spiritual sayings of the Son of God, for your information concerning the Father and him­self. ‘It is expedient for you (said he) that I go away; for if I go not away, the comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you: And when he is come, he will reprove (or convince) the world of sin, of righ­teousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not in me,’ &c. chap. xvi. 7, 8, 9. Again, ‘I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of TRUTH, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: Because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present [Page 32] with you: But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.’ John xiv. ver. 16, 17, to 26, inclusive.

HERE Christ was with his disciples as man, and they saw him face to face, as we see one another, and he talked with them familiarly and graciously on those divive and most important subjects. ‘It is expedient for you that I go away:’ Why was his departure, as to his bodily presence, so expedi­ent for them? That departing, as to his bodily presence, which was to be but for a short time, he might thereby make way for a more excellent dis­pensation and appearance of himself, inwardly in spirit, as he is life eternal, and the true comfort­er. Can any one doubt therefore who this divine comforter is? Sure it is no other then Christ him­self in spirit; for the same who is the TRUTH, is the spirit of-truth. The Holy Ghost, the comfort­er, is Christ himself in spirit; for though he speaks of one in the third person, as of another than him­self, yet it evidently appears, by comparing one of those texts with another (if we had no other evi­dence) that it was no other than his own spirit that was to be manifested in them after his glorification. And what and who it is in mankind that reproves and convinces us of sin, is plainly the Holy Ghost, according to scripture evidence; and yet we have a more sure testimony, even the Truth Himself, by the manifestation of his power and grace in our hearts, opening unto us the holy scriptures, and bearing witness that he, the spirit himself, was the author of them.

'Tis the spirit of Christ then that reproves the world, even the whole world, of sin; and the first great [Page 33] sin is unbelief, as the inlet and foundation of all others: ‘Of sin (saith the Lord Jesus) "because they believe not in me.’ Adam did not sin till he departed from his faith in the word of God; and as we are his offspring, and ignorant of God by nature, we do not believe in him, and therefore we sin against him: Nevertheless that we may be redeemed from sin and eternal death, and return unto God and live, he hath, in unspeakable love and mercy, sent the spirit of his Son Christ, the word of life, into our hearts, to reprove and convince us of our sin, make us sensible of it, and repent, be­lieve in him, and be saved from sin and all un­righteousness and uncleanness, and from all its deadly fruits, and have daily communion with God in this life, and be glorified with God and the Lamb in a state of everlasting bliss, when time to us here shall be no more.

BY this divine, spiritual, and inward coming of Christ, he speaks, or manifests to the understanding, all things necessary to eternal life. He mortifies and subdues all the evil thoughts and desires in the hearts of them who believe and receive him in the way of his coming, in love. He destroys and takes away the root of evil in mankind; as it is written, ‘for this end was the Son of God made manifest, that he might destroy the works of the devil.’ How then doth Christ begin this work? Just as he said before; for the first work is, the condemnation of man for the sin of unbelief in him, with all the rest of his sins grounded thereon, or consequential thereto; and not only of all man's own righteousness, of his own inventing, but con­vinces him also of the righteousness of God, who justly condemns and reproves him for sin; the mind assenting also to the justice of God, manifested and [Page 34] executed on the author of sin, the prince of all the ungodly of this world, and of darkness: And this is effected by the spirit and power of Christ, as he is divine, eternal, universal light, and judge of the world. And the first act of the mind of man (thus convinced) toward Christ is, to believe in him as light and its immediate object; then to forsake sin, self, and Satan, through the grace of God, and become obedient to every discovery of truth in the understanding thus illuminated, that so we may be born of that light, and thereby become the children of God (who is eternal light) and heirs of eternal life: As said the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘believe in the light, that ye may become children of light.’ And again, in him is life, and that life is the light of men; and though this light shineth in the dark hearts of men, yet they do not comprehend it; though this is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, yet they do not know him, and therefore they do not receive him; but to as many as do receive him, as he is the word of God and divine, eternal light, he gives power to become the sons and daughters of God, to them who believe in his name: Those are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. This indispensible work of regeneration comes not by descent of blood, nor by generation of the most holy progenitors, nor by any thing man can do in his own will or power, or by any inventions or systems of religion contrived and imposed by man; but is the work of God alone, by his holy spirit, in them who believe in his, wisdom and power, in the inward manifestations of it in their own hearts. John i. 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.

CHRIST himself then, in his second coming, was the comforter of all those who had believed in him, [Page 35] and received him in his first coming, and so he is still: And the nature of this comfort is such, that it unspeakably transcends all the satisfaction and enjoyments we can have in the creatures of God, human or others, or any pleasures of our own in­venting. No other enjoyment is to be laid in the ballance with that divine love and consolation, which the holy spirit of Christ gives in the mind; He is all consolation, and peace, and divine love.

THUS he was to be a comforter to his disciples and followers (and more also) and so he is still. He was to be their leader and guide into all truth, and their great remembrancer and instructor: He had many things then to say unto them, but they could not bear them at that time. John xiv. 26. xv. 26, and xvi. 12. And whosoever are acquainted with this coming of the Son of God, are much weaned from desires after the many things of this world and their pleasures therein are mightily abated and cut off: Only those things that are need­ful for the support of life and sustentation of the body, obtained by descent from relations, or lawful and honest industry, rightly used and applied, are blessings in this life from God, in the course of his good providence, and for which we are to be thankful unto him, in the enjoyment of them.

AND though Christ is all this, and whatever can be desired, unto his people and children, from time to time, according to the will of God the Father, yet no man can command this consolation, or any manifestation of him, in his own will or time: It is the gift of God, and therefore we wait for it from him, in a holy and humble re­signation to his will; and he is not wanting to us therein, in his own time, as we remain faithful in our love and duty to him. Of this I am fully satis­fied, [Page 36] and do understand and know, that there is a divine self-evidencing immortal power manifesting itself, from time to time, in the minds of mankind, and sensibly influencing them, after a most agreea­ble manner, the idea whereof is incommunicable by any language but its own, unto any who have not the experience of the same thing in themselves; and that this power is not essential to the being of man; he was and is man before he knew or knows it; the celestial influences whereof cannot be commanded, or had, by man when he pleases; though he may resist, oppose, and neglect them, to his own everlasting ruin: And I believe I am speaking in the audience of many of both sexes, that have evidence, and are witnesses, that there is a di­vine, living, soul-quickening power appearing in them, which is not of themselves, which they can­not move or command in their own time.

NOW seeing Christ the Lord is thus the regene­rator, leader, strengthener, and supporter of them who believe in, follow and obey him, what is he to the world? And who is this world? Even all man­kind, throughout all ages, past, and at this time, and ever will be, who have not believed, do not, or shall not believe in the word of God, they are all compre­hended under this general word, the world. He shall reprove the world of sin: Here is a general reproof of all the world for sin. What then is sin? It is the transgression of a law; for where there is no law, there is no transgression. What law therefore hath the world received from God and transgressed, for which they are reproved and condemned by the Holy Ghost? Doth he mention any manner of immoral actions, prohibited by any given law, for which he shall reprove them? No, it is because they believe not in him who does reprove them: For, though [Page 37] God hath written and made manifest this law, the law of the spirit of life, the law of divine light, in all mankind in the world, from the foundation there­of; yet the world hath still hated and opposed it, both in themselves, and in those who have believed and obeyed it.

GOD condemned the old world for their sins, and destroyed them in judgment without mercy: Is God unrighteous therefore, or cruel? Did he con­demn the world without offence, or the transgression of any known law, and the highest provocation? No, God is altogether holy, righteous, just and good, and so is his law, and all his ways are truth, and condemneth none without a cause on man's part, and justly. We find, therefore, that God gave a law to the old world altogether good, and well adapted from the beginning of it; for the neglect, contempt, and breach whereof they were justly condemned; for, saith the Lord, my spirit shall not always strive with man. Again, in him (that is, in Christ, the word of God) was life, and that life was the light of men; this was their law, which law they brake; and for which they were condemned and punished. This is the mystery that lay hid from the foundation of the world, Christ in man­kind the only hope of glory; and this law is in being still, and ever will be, and is written in the hearts of all mankind; this law is light, and is as a lamp always burning; the true light which lighteth every man, male and female, that cometh into the world; which is again restored by the union of the same with the nature of man, in the man Christ Jesus; that whosoever believeth in him, and obeyeth him, shall have forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting; even by him by whom came the law of the spirit of life, which sets free from the law of [Page 38] sin and death; being life everlasting in its own na­ture. This law being given unto all nations under heaven, men generally break it in one article or other; by obeying and following the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and pride of life, and their own inventions and imaginations; for which this law reproves and condemns them, and from which condemnation they can never be saved, till they believe therein and obey; it being the spiritual appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ, the word of God, the true light, which lighteth every man, male and female, that cometh into the world.

MEN may stout it out as much and long as they please, and decry the Holy Spirit of God, and call it by what opprobrious names they will; yet this eternal light and day of God will be the everlasting condemnation of all those who continue in unbelief. And until mankind come to believe in the Son of God, they must remain in a state of separation from God, in ignorance and condemnation.

IT is necessary therefore that every one consider how we must believe in him; we must believe in him as the Father promised, and hath accordingly sent him; I will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles. Isaiah xlii. 6. As we come then to believe in the Son of God, as he is the light of the world, and are baptized of him, (as we have heard this morning *) we shall be sav­ed: As he said, after his resurrection from the dead, when he was speaking concerning the mis­sion of his disciples to preach salvation by him unto ill the world: All power is given unto me in hea­ven and in earth; go ye therefore and teach all na­tions, baptizing them into the name of the Fa­ther, [Page 39] and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world *. Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damn­ed . Again, I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in dark­ness. He that believeth on him is not condemn­ed, but he that believeth not is condemned already, be­cause he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God; and this is the condemna­tion, that light is come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. John iii. 18, 19. Again, all things that are reproved, are made manifest by the light: For what­soever doth make manifest, is light. Ephesians v. 13. And to premonish them what baptism he intended, as consequential to their teaching, or rather to be done at the same time, in the act of preaching, in the power of the Holy Ghost (and that it was not water-baptism) he bid them wait for the promise of the Father, which he had told them of before. John xv. 26. For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence; but ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. And ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts i. 4, 5, 8.

BY all which it appears, that the apostles of Christ were commanded and authorized by Christ to proclaim him unto all nations, and to bear wit­ness [Page 40] of him, not only what he had done in the flesh in that administration, but as he is the word of God, the light of the world, and Holy Ghost; and that all who should believe in him as he is that light should be baptized with the Holy Ghost (that is, be made partakers of it in some degree) and be saved; but that they who did not believe should remain where they were, under everlasting con­demnation by the Holy Ghost as a perpetual, true, and powerful witness against them. This con­demnation is as we stand in the state of nature in the first Adam, and in unbelief from which, never­theless, we may be redeemed and saved, if we do not continue in unbelief and disobedience: But if we do not believe in the Son of God, as he is the divine light, and sent as such unto us, that condemnation will be confirmed upon us, and remain for ever.

BUT then some may think it hard that so many millions of people, who never heard of Christ, should be damned because they do not believe. To whom I say, that, so far as God doth make manifest his will by the light of his Son Christ, that is his law to that soul; and so far as man loveth that law, and shows it by practice, he cannot truly be called an unbeliever, he believes in a holy SOMETHING, a powerful persuasive SOMETHING, for which he has no name; and when he acts and says according to the manifestations of it, he finds peace, tranquility, and consolation in his mind; but when he speaks or acts contrary to it, he finds trouble; so that he is disciplined, as by the rod and reasonable persuasion, into moral virtue and goodness. I therefore conclude this is a mode and degree of faith in the Son of God, the light of the world, working by love: And God is not unrigh­teous or unreasonable, to require any more of any [Page 41] one than he hath given or made known; for Christ said to the Pharisees, and the rest of the unbelieving Jews, if ye had been blind you had not had sin, but whereas you say you see, you have no cloak for your sin.

MANY of those who make no profession of Christ, and to whom he hath not been instrumentally preached, are in the practice of moral virtue, do­ing as they would be done by, through the evidence they have of it as a duty, by the divine light giving them understanding, though they do not know, or formally believe in it, under that character, in any language. Whatever you see therefore (for I have a mixed auditory) or suspect in your minds to be wrong, shun it with all your strength; yet not trusting therein, but in the grace of God; and the Lord, in his own good time, will open his counsel, and give you divine wisdom and under­standing, according to his kind invitation: ‘Lift up thy voice for wisdom, and with all thy get­tings get understanding:’ For the knowledge of God is everlasting life: ‘This is life eternal, (saith the Son of God) to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.’ Then follow on and proceed in the knowledge of God, and in the increase of that wisdom, where­by to avoid every appearance of evil.

Now I would observe to you, that the Christian religion, in every form of it, or whatever is so cal­led, is accidental to the greatest part of mankind professing it, being educated in some kind of no­tion or profession or other, according to the senti­ments of their parents, guardians, or tutors, be­fore they have any thought or understanding to distinguish between truth and error, and most commonly fall into that way or profession of religion [Page 42] most in repute in the world, and most fashionable; if therefore one is born among the Roman Catholics, he is of that way; if among the Episcopalians, he is of that way; or, among the Presbyterians, Indepen­dents, Baptists, or us who are now distinguished by the name, of Quakers, they are of those several ways or professions; and if among the Mahometans, they are of that false way. How powerful therefore and di­rective is the prepossession and prejudice of educa­tion; and how uncertain and unstable is any foun­dation laid only in that way? Howbeit, where there is nothing else but motions, true ones are better than false; and where there is only a mixture, the truest are best of all, and may be taught and embraced, till he who is the TRUTH appears, and till light and life be made manifest in him.

THE religion then which most of you under this distinction at this day do profess, you had it first accidentally by education, tradition, and imitation; but being convinced by the holy spirit of truth, and believing in and obeying the same, to the sanctifying of your minds, by the effectual operation of the power and divine virtue thereof in you, your religion is now become that of your understandings, judgment, experience, and know­ledge; wherein being established as upon the sure rock of ages, and foundation of all the generations of the righteous from the beginning of the world, even upon Jesus Christ, the wisdom and power of God, you are not perverted, nor I hope perverti­ble; nor tossed in uncertainties by the subtle inven­tions of crafty yet ignorant and designing men, wherein they are deceived and deceiving: As it is written, if the blind lead the blind, they shall both fall into the ditch.

[Page 43]To conclude: There never was any thing in the world under the notion of religion worthy of that name, save what came by the inspiration of God, whereby the knowledge of himself was taught by the revelation of the Son of God, that mankind might be restored to communion with God in this present world, and to know him to be the most beneficent and sure comforter, and that at last we may come to launch into the fulness of his goodness, at whose right hand are rivers of divine pleasure, for evermore.


SOME few only of the texts quoted in the foregoing discourse, were expresly mentioned at the time it was delivered; but were since thought necessary to be supplied, in order the better to support the truths therein asserted, and for the farther illustration of the subjects which are there treated of.

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