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The Means, Nature, Proper­ties and Effects of true Faith considered. A DISCOURSE Delivered in a PUBLIC ASSEMBLY OF THE PEOPLE CALLED QUAKERS.

BY THOMAS STORY.

PHILADELPHIA:—RE-PRINTED AND SOLD BY WILLIAM GIBBONS. No. 144. NORTH THIRD STREET. 1793.

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SOME HEADS of the following DISCOURSE.

THE first Means of Faith toward God, is the Works of the visible Creation.

The second Means of Faith toward God, and Jesus Christ the Lord, are the manifold Testimonies under the Law of Moses; the Prophecies of the Prophets in divers Ages of the World, many hundreds of Years before they came [...], and the Scriptures of the New Testament, testi­fying that: [...] Predictions are accomplished in Christ the Messah.

The third Means of Faith which God hath given unto Mankind, is the preaching of the Gospel by the Minis­ters of Christ, chosen, appointed, and qualified by [...]nself.

The fourth and most excellent Means of Faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ the Son of God, is the Divine Light, the Spirit of Truth in the hearts of all Mankind, in the Ages, Times, and Parts of the World, and his inward Works in Man.

[Page iv] An Exhortation to forsake Sin and Self, being contrary to the Nature and Attributes of God, and some Unbelievers crept in, &c.

The State of the Nation of Great-Britain with respect to Religion, when Friends were first raised and made manifest as a People, and what they were at that Day; with an Exhortation to this Generation to embrace the same Truth, not by Tradition only, but rather, and chiefly, by the holy Spirit, &c.

With divers other Truths in the Whole, as well Practi­cal as Speculative.

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The Means, Nature, Properties and Effects of true Faith.
In aSERMON preached atHorslydown, the 24th day of December 1738, in a meeting of the people calledQuakers, by Mr.Thomas Story.

IT is written in the holy scripture. That "without faith it is impossible to please God," which I think plainly implies, that by faith we may please him. And if we should be so injurious to the divine attributes, and hurtful to ourselves in our highest interests, as to think of the Almighty, that he is such a Being as that we can never please him, or to conceive an indis­pensible duty incumbent upon us to please him, and yet that to remain impossible for us, would be the most me­lancholy Thought, and we should be the most miserable of all creatures.

But seeing the Lord is to be pleased by faith, and not to be pleased without it, we may hope and expect, con­sidering the attributes of his infinite goodness and mer­cy; that he hath, or will afford the means of faith; and it is expressly said, that faith is the gift of God.

As to the means of faith towards God, that he is, That is afforded to mankind in general; though there is an order of persons among them of whom the Lord doth not require faith, that is of infants, because they are not capable of it in this sense; these, through his good­ness, he hath taken into the arms of his mercy, and his own protection, they are under his own care: But as to [Page 6]the rest of mankind, who are arrived at a rational state, and capable of believing in God, he justly expects that all such should believe in him.

As the Almighty hath made us rational creatures, and bestowed upon us proper senses, whereby we may be­hold and perceive the visible Creation of God, in that beautiful manner and order in which it appears.

This is the first means of faith that God hath afford­ed unto mankind, and it is universal, and altogether suf­ficient for the ends proposed by it; for every rational person, in every nation under Heaven, looking upon the Sun, Moon, and Stars, himself, and the rest of the Creation of God around him, is compelled even by his own understanding, under a due consideration of the great and wise work of the Creation, to refer back from the creatures to the Creator, and determine positively and absolutely that he is, and is eternal and infinite in his Being, and that he hath in himself, eternally and un­alterably, all those attributes commonly ascribed unto him; that he is almighty in power, and all-wise; for nothing less than infinite almighty power and unlimited wisdom, could produce the visible creation, and support it in that order in which we see it. And the senses which God hath given us are so well adapted to the cognizance [...] their proper objects, that we are able thereby, [...] in their native and proper rectitude, to [...] infallibly, and that those things are not ficti­tious, and that there is no deception or delusion in them, but that [...] and perceive them as they really are.

And to remain a little longer upon the same subject; the Apostle saith, ‘That whosoever cometh to God must arst believe that he is,’ and that he is a rewarder of all those who diligently seek him; this is a very ra­tional position; for he who doth not first sincerely be­lieve the Being of God, will never seek to know him, nor consider him as a rewarder of those who seek him.

He therefore who believes the Being of God must seek him, and that not coldly and indifferently, but with a [Page 7]real concern, and engagement of mind, and true desire to know him; for the knowledge of God is of the highest importance to us. For if we were able to know our own bodies, and every particular particle of them; and the cause and manner of the connection of them; and the manner of the connection of our bodies and minds, which are of Natures very different one from the other; or the gradations and medium in which they do meet; or the mode of the existence of the mind, in a state of seperation from the body; or if we could know the whole creation of God, and every particular part of it; and yet ignorant of the Lord himself, and deprived of the enjoyment of his divine presence, that knowledge would not satisfy the soul; nothing can do that rightly but the knowledge of the Lord himself, in a state of eternal life with him, and in him.

We must also seek to know the Lord in his moral pro­perties and character: By his mercy, justice, righteous­ness, truth, goodness, patience, long-suffering, and Ho­liness; in all which if we are duly exercised and observ­ant, we shall know the Lord God in his divine essence, as he is love. And that exercise is known after this manner. As all have sinned and come short of the knowledge of the glory of God some one way and some another, but all against the one true and living God. And as we have sinned against him in various instances, doing that which is not just before him, for which the spirit of Christ, who is his witness and righteousness, hath judged and condemned us in our own understand­ings, whereby we know, in our own experience, the Lord is just and righteous; likewise, in some instances in the course of life we have been untrue, and partial in our own favour, and respecters of persons in unjust sa­vour of others; for which we have suffered condemna­tion, by the spirit of truth in our own hearts, by which we know he is truth, since our untruth and falshood are reproved by him and judged. And so far as we have sinned in any sort, we have defiled ourselves there­by [Page 8]in mind and body, and offended against the holiness of God; and yet, through his infinite unspeakable love and goodness he hath had mercy upon us, and exercised patience and long-suffering towards us, shown us our sins, by the light of his divine grace, and thereby taught us repentance unfeigned, and pardoned all our sins, through Christ the beloved, whereby we are assured for ever, that our God is infinitely perfect in mercy, justice, truth, righteousness, goodness, long-suffering, and ho­liness; to the endless and never ceasing praise of his eternal name: and that by the holy influence and enjoy­ment of his divine love, sh [...] abroad in our hears by his holy spirit, under proper qualifications wrought thereby in us, WE KNOW THAT GOD IS LOVE.

Now, seeing it so plainly appears, by the works of the creation of God, to the understanding of every rati­onal being under Heaven, that God is, he is of conse­quence the first object of faith unto all such, in all nati­ons, and in all ages of the world.

And as to that part of the world who profess the name of God and Jesus Christ the Lord: As God the Father is the first object of faith, by the works of the citation, to the mere national or rational man, ignorant of Christ, so Jesus Christ the Son of God is the second object of saith (together with the father, as they are one) to all them that believe, according to that saying of Christ, "Ye believe in God believe also in me," that is, in himself; which is the second point presented in my mind, soon [...] I sat down in this meeting among you, to wait up in God with you at this time.

And [...] further means which God hath [...] of all parts of the world [...] hereby we may and ought to believe in God and Christ the Lord) is the manifold testimonies Moses, and the great and [...] God. [...] his people Israel, [...] of God, as [...] in the [...], seriptures, which are reasonable and sufficient [Page 9]credentials concerning the coming of Christ into the world, and the manner and end of it: For whosoever will search the holy scriptures with diligence, unpreju­diced, and with desire to be rightly informed in that im­portant point, may find, that Christ is the Messiah, or sent of God unto mankind, for our instruction, redemp­tion, and salvation, being predicted and prophecied of in various ages of the world, by different persons of great note and eminence, among whom there could be no col­lusion, or any contrivance, or cause, or interest to deceive: And several hundreds of years in point of time, distant one from another, and all concurring in that one point; that there was such an extraordinary person, so particu­larly to be circumstanced, to come into the world, in the fulness of time. And some of them declared so plainly the manner of his coming into this world, his concerns in it, and going out of it, as if they had been eye and ear witnesses of them, and given * historical accounts of matters of fact, and things past, rather than prophecies of things then to come, which did not come to pass for many ages after their departure out of the world, which clearly demonstrates they had the mind of God therein, before whom all things past, present, and to come (as to us) are in view at all times, and no time elapseth unto him.

And the scriptures of the new testament do likewise witness, that the very same person, attended with all those various circumstances, did come into the world, according to the very letter of those predictions, and did the things predicted of him, in the sight of the people, of the Jews in that age, (to whom he was sent) and made his departure out of the world according to those prophecies. All which, being public and notorious in the world, and written in the same generation, by com­petent [Page 10]witnesses, both to matters of fact and doctrine, might easily have been detected at the same time of falsehood, if they had not been true, seeing the Lord Christ and his followers were so much hated, opposed, and envied, and especially by the great, powerful, wise, and learned of the world, at that time.

What therefore can remain doubtful in any one born under the christian name, in this part of the world, where we have the free use of the holy scriptures, in our own language, whereby the outward coming of Christ is so plainly and fully proved, and established as everlasting irrefragable truth, and believed in a general way.

But if there be any objection in the minds of any con­cerning those truths, which are so plainly and rationally proved; it can arise from nothing else, but invincible, indocible ignorance, the blackness of darkness in irrati­onal minds: Or from some en [...]y through which the Lord was rejected in that day as an impostor and de­ceiver, by those whose temporal considerations and in­ [...] moved against Him, and those who believed in [...] received Him.

Or it must be some select, secret, beloved, innate lust, opposite to the nature and attributes of God, and even to human nature in its proper rectitude, possessing such souls, which p [...]apts them to deny, at this day, the outward coming and miracles of Christ, and the great and necessary ends of it unto all mankind. They will believe nothing as matters of fact, but what they them­selves see and are witne [...]es of, or what suits with their weak understandings, or what they call their reason, which they have not yet defined to the rest of mankind, what they mean thereby.

Would such men be so served by the rest of mankind? Would they not be believed when they relate matters of fact of which they are eye witnesses, or what they have heard? Would any of them have another to say he is no witness of what he saith, but a forger of falsehood, a con­triver of lies? I may reasonably conclude they would [Page 11]not, even in minute things; if then they themselves ex­pect to be believed in what they say or witness, though in things of little consequence, why should they pretend to suspect the veracity of others equally creditable, and much more so than they? Surely the prophets of God, and apostles of Christ, and their testimonies, with the concurrence of the best and wisest of men through ages, in the affirmative, ought, in common reason, to be pre­ferred and take place, against all the negative disputati­ons and wranglings of a few bold and ignorant men, who neither know or believe any thing of the most im­portant truths of the gospel, or what themselves affirm or deny concerning them: Would such think it reason­able, that a few men born blind, should oppose the rest of mankind, and deny that any see because they them­selves are blind.

Common credit is to be given among mankind one to another, in things of the highest as well as the lowest consequence; or else no innocent person could be clear­ed from the falsehood and oppression of the blackest and most envious calumny. No wronged person righted: No business of any moment carried on: No criminal, how guilty soever of the greatest crimes laid to his charge, could be convicted, and brought to condign punishment, unless credit can be given to those who are eye and ear witnesses of matters of fact, which they have heard or seen.

The judges among the Jews, according to their judi­cial law and national order, could not judge of any crime, but by the testimony of two or three witnesses. And according to the constitution of our own nation, no judge is witness of any matter of fact, or offence, by words, objected against any criminal, or offender; but must judge according to the report of a jury, before whom matters and things have been proved, by witness­es furnished with proper credentials, and duly qualified. And then the judge applies the law to the offender, ac­cording [Page 12]to the nature of the offence, whether it be against common and civil right, or is criminal.

Seeing then there is, and must be a general credit a­mong mankind one of another, with regard to the low affairs of this [...]ite, much more is it necessary, that due credit be given by the children of men with respect to those great and important facts we read of in the scrip­tures of truth, concerning the stupendous miracles wrought by Christ the Son of God, so openly done in many instances, before so many people, and in divers times and places, and authenticly reported unto us by proper witnesses.

But to command all distempers to be gone: To mul­tiply natural food to so great a degree, and that in two great instances, before so great multitudes of people, who themselves did partake thereof: to call the dead out of the grave, and the like, in the sight of multitudes of people, things so far transcending the understandings and knowledge of poor mortals, that they are apt to con­clude, there cannot be any such things; and being blinded by corrupt desires and appetites, sensual lusts and liberties of divers kinds, destructive of a right under­standing in the things of God, and ruinous to the soul, they reject the truth.

This is the foundation of all infidelity, concerning these matters and things recorded in the holy scriptures, touching Christ the Lord, and so reasonably proved, ac­cording to that saying of Christ to the like sort in that day, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye re­ceive not our witness. If I have told you carthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to Heaven, but he that came down from Heaven, even the Son of man which is in Heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be listed up: That who­soever believeth in him, should not perish, but have [Page 13]eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life, For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world: but that the world through him might be saved. 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, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, least his deeds should be reproved. But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." John 3.11 to 21.

Again, how canst thou comprehend by thy reason, or all the faculties of thy mind, that a pure, infinite, eter­nal Spirit as God is, free from all corporiety, could produce such a mighty substance as the dead and solid earth, so contrary in nature to a spiritual being. This may be above thy capacity to conceive, and yet if thou dost not believe it, thou art scarce a rational creature, since (as such) thou art compelled to believe, that the earth did not produce itself, but that its being is owing to another and more excellent cause.

And seeing these things are above the reach of thy understanding, how and after what manner it could be so produced, yet, since thy senses declare and acknow­ledge its real being, that it is what it appears to be, and thou must believe thy senses, against all the perverse reasonings thou or others can advance. Why then canst thou not believe, that * Jesus Christ the Son of God commanded the dead out of the grave, and did all those other wonders ascribed unto him (unless thou art prepossessed with prejudices as were the Jews) seeing he is [Page 14]the same wisdom and power of God by whom all things were made and do exist, who gave being and life to mankind, and so well and reasonably attested.

Was it not the spirit and power of the Almighty Creator of all worlds that dwelt in that holy person, who acted in him and by him? And what other wisdom or power could do them? For he assumed not the glory ei­ther of those works or his sayings to himself as a man; but he told the people plainly, and often,(and it is writ­ten for our instruction *) that he wrought not those works, nor uttered his sayings of himself, but imputes all unto the Father, the Author of the universe, who sent him in­to this world, to bear witness unto him and to his pow­er, among a perverse and degenerate people, who had lost the knowledge of the true God, though they pro­fessed his name.

Thus God, in his great goodness and mercy, hath afforded us the testimony of the holy scriptures in our own language, as instrumental MEANS of faith in the Son of God, and, by his good providence, given and continued them hitherto, unto all Christendom, in their several tongues, for the same end (these only excepted who have yielded themselves captives and slaves to an antichristian power, by which they are deprived of them, and of the information to be had therein, and of their senses and understandings in the things of God as rea­sonable creatures.) Let us all therefore who profess the holy Christian religion, and have this great advantage, make a right use of them, and duly improve it.

The third MEANS. &c.

There is also another MEANS of FAITH which the Most High hath graciously given unto mankind, and that is the preaching, and constant proclaiming of him­self and Jesus Christ the Lord, by such persons as he himself hath breathed upon, by his holy Spirit, in their [Page 15]own hearts, and thereby raised them up, sanctified, fit­ted and prepared them, as living and present witnesses of himself, his wisdom, power, judgment, goodness, mercies, favours and love, whereby they can, and do, up­on a sure foundation of truth and experience, testify un­to others, what God the Lord hath done, and is still continuing to do, in and for their souls, and that the Lord and giver of life and immortality, hath in himself all those divine and moral attributes and characters ascribed unto him in the holy scriptures, by his exerci­sing all of them communicable, in some good degree, in and upon themselves in their own hearts, whereby ma­ny others, who have formerly been stupid, senseless and dead, as to any knowledge of God, or the things of God, have been quickened, and raised into a sense of the pre­sence, power and goodness of God, and have believed therein as made manifest in them, to their unspeakable joy and present salvation then begun. As thousands in this age, as in times past, can and will own and testi­fy, when thereunto called, to the glory of God and of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and yet many others who have heard, and often do hear, the everlasting gos­pel of God preached by his ministers, in a good degree of the demonstration of his wisdom, spirit and power, do not yet believe, but remain under condemnation, be­cause they do not believe in the name of the only begot­ten Son of God; preached by his ministers (I say) in divine love [...]lowing in their souls, without any other mo­tive than its own commanding power and influence, whereby they are preserved from all low, mean induce­ments of self, and mercenary views, and interests of the world.

The fourth MEANS, &c.

And to proceed yet further with regard to what came upon my mind, of a nearer, closer, and clearer MEANS of FAITH in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ the word and Son of God, even than all those mentioned [Page 16]already, and whereby they are all confirmed; for there have been objections, though seeble, moved for want of the understanding or perversely concerning the creation of the world and all things visible. There have been excep­tions likewise taken against the truth and sense of the holy scriptures, or most important parts of them, for want of a due and candid consideration of them, or from envy, or dislike in corrupt and unreasonable minds, to the di­vine and moral matters and things specified in them, by whom they have been, and still are, perverted and re­jected, to the great hurt, if not total ruin of those who do it; yet, notwithstanding these, or any other objecti­ons, how subtile soever, raised or that can be raised (if they had any weight in the balance of a free, reason­able and unprejudiced mind) we are, every soul of us left without excuse, as much, or more, than were the Jews; for when miraculous matters of fact were so well attested by so many thousands of proper witnesses, and so conspicuous that they could not be denied; then the more wicked and envious among them endeavoured to persuade the rest of the unthinking multitude, that Christ did these stupendous works by the power of the devil, which the Lord confuted by fair reasoning, say­ing, * ‘Every kingdom divided against itself, is brought to desolation; and every city or house, divided against itself, shall not stand. And if Satin cast out Satin, he is divided against himself: How shall then his kingdom stand?’ And as they still perversly persisted in unbelief, the Lord Jesus challenged them to issue up­on this criterion, saying, ‘I told you and ye believed not; the works that I do in my Father's name they bear witness of me, believe me for the very works sake.’ John 10.25, 37, 38. Chap. 14.10, 11 and 15, 24.

Yet though these works did so evidently and undenia­bly prove that the Almighty was in him, and wrought these things by him, they would not believe in him. [Page 17]If then those works of Christ without them, were suffi­cient to oblige the Jews, as rational creatures, to believe in him, and left them without excuse; let us consider in our own hearts, that the inward manifestation of the spirit of Christ, the divine essential light and truth, which cannot be perverted or avoided, is near unto every one of us, and in us, and that this inward work in our own hearts, minds and consciences, is the last, most sen­sible and cogent MEANS of saith, which the Almighty hath afforded to every national being, as sufficient to in­duce him to believe, and is the present and immediate object of faith; according to these sayings of Christ concerning himself. * ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the father but by me. It is expedient for you that I go away [as to that dis­pensation in the flesh] for if I go not away the com­forter will not come, but if I depart I will send him to you. I will pray the Father and he shall give you ano­ther comforter [not another in essence, but the same in another administration and dispensation, this in the flesh, and that in the spirit "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. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost [this is still himself in spirit] "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 [...] you. He will reprove or convince the world of sin, that is mankind and of righteousness, and of judgment, of sin, because they believe not in me, &c. But when the comforter is come, whom I will send [Page 18]unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth which proceedeth from the Father. He shall testify of me.’ John 15.26.

In every dispensation of God to mankind, they who have believed in him have pleased him: Abraham be­lieved God before the law (his works co-operating with his saith) and it was imputed unto him for righteous­ness. By saith Abel, Enoch, Noah, Sarah, Isaac, Ja­cob, Joseph, Moses, David, Samuel, and all the pro­phets of God pleased him. Heb. 11.

Seeing then, that the spirit of Christ, the eternal es­sential truth (vailed with a human mind) is the last and self-evidencing dispensation of God to mankind, let all believe in him, as the present object of the faith of all nations, that thereby we may please God, fear and love him, work righteousness, and for ever be accepted of him. And seeing 1 John, 5.10. that he that believeth hath the witness in himself; let us all examine ourselves, and see whether we are in the faith or no.

Now as it is written in the holy scriptures concern­ing the spirit of Christ, that he shall reprove the world of sin, because they do not believe in him, and he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the only begotten Son of God: As long as we are under the reproofs of the Spirit we do not firmly believe in him, nor please God: Therefore, let us eve­ry one consider the convictions we have in our own hearts and minds, and what and who it is that d [...]th reprove and convict us of all our sins, transgressions, and sailings: And peradventure concerning some things in the course of this life, which no mortal hath been pri­vy to, but God and thy own conference only: And things which thou hadst forgot many years, are brought fresh into thy remembrance, with conviction and con­demnation, as remaining upon a sure record.

Then here is an invisible, intelligent being near thee, and in thee, which is not of thee; an intelligencer and remembrancer, who knows thy heart and mind, and [Page 19]whatsoever lodges and appears therein, and brings thy thoughts, words and actions to thy remembrance and understanding, condemning or approving as thy ways have been, and worketh in thee by convictions and reproof, and strives with thee against thyself, and that which is evil in thee, in thought or purpose, word or action; and that from time to time, day to day, from week to week, month to month, and year to year, laying open to thee, in thee, all thy faults and failings, and charging them home upon thee, till either thou return unto him who thus smites thee, and believes in him, and obeys him; and then he will pardon all thy sins, and cleanse thee from an unrighteousness and sin, and all the stains and pollutions of it, or finally thou will reject and des­spise and his reproof and counsel, remain in unbelief and hardness of heart, pollution and condemnation for ever.

The Son of God put the test of his mission to the Jews upon his works (as before) here then is a more immediate evidence in thyself, in thy own knowledge and understanding, which thou canst not deny, than, or pervert, a work of which thou thyself art witness.

This is a work of the Spirit of Truth according to his word, and not a work of the evil one as [...] antichris­tian insi [...]els have falsely taugh [...] for the prince of the darkness of this world reproveth not the works of dark­ness, Satan reproveth not his own work; for then his kingdom would fall, and be d [...]troyed by himself: no, this is the work of God, by this inward work we believe in him whom God hath sent, not to the J [...]ws only in the flesh, but to the Gentiles also, even in all nations un­der Heaven, as he is the true right which lighte [...] every man that cometh into the world. This is he who en­lightens thy understanding, be thou male or female, and brings things to thy remembrance, and convinces thee of the evil of thy doings, in the secret of thine own heart, even of thy most secret sins, which no creature can charge thee with, as likewise of those evils and transgression in which thou hast had accomplices and companions.

[Page 20] Is not this a plain demonstration to thee as a rational creature, not only of the being of God, that he is, but likewise that he hath all those divine attributes com­monly ascribed unto him, and particularly as in this case, his omniscience; for thus he knows the secrets of thy heart, being in thee, and what are thy thoughts, and what thou hast been doing. He who hath told thee, and recounted unto thee, and condemned in thee, all that ever thou hast done [...]miss, in the course of life, is not he the Christ, the eternal Truth, the word of God, and Holy Ghost.

Those therefore who thus believe in the Father and the Son, through these credentials, please God; first in believing in him, then in leaving of those evils, greater or lesser, which the witness of God, in the mind or man, doth reprove him for, as inconsisstent with the goodness, or any other attribute of God, moral or divine, and with thy own reason and understanding.

God is come near unto mankind, as a witness against our transgressions, and likewise as the righteous judge and executor of justice upon him w [...]t [...] doth evil: But if we leave off those things which God doth convince us of in our hearts, and we c [...]me to believe in him, not only because of the wonderf [...] works of his creation, which we behold, or what we have heard of him by his minis­ters, or read of [...] in the [...] scriptures, but above all by his sensible and experimental work of regeneration, begun in us, and carrie [...] [...] divine light and word of his [...]. By the powerful operation of his [...]oly [...]pirit, [...] truth, moving and [...] in our hearts, we then please God, as we thus believe, honor, love and obey him.

But then w [...]n we rightly and fully believe in God, and in Christ the Lord, and please him, and are saved by him, what doth our faith, obedience and [...] and unto him? [...] for he hath in himself [...] [...] ­vine perfections, [...], from ever [...]t [...]g believe he made the worlds, so that nothing can be added unto [Page 21]him, or taken away; he is unchangable in all his attri­butes divine and moral, the same yesterday, to day and for ever, throughout all ages, generations and dispersati­ons. The addition and advantage is to ourselves, that we may become complete in him: The whole purpose and design of the Most High in [...] visiting mankind, is for our own happiness, which plainly and fully evinceth the infinite goodness of God, both in our creation, resto­ration and establishment at last in a state of unspeakable bliss, from which we cannot fall nor swerve. By which also his infinite power and wisdom is made manifest.

Oh! what manner of goodness is this? Who can de­clare it? Nothing surely but itself; that we, poor mor­tals, should be so regarded and thus favoured with un­derstanding, and knowledge of the true God; not only to believe in him, but to know him, and be made capa­ble of loving him, and living in him, and by him for ever.

An Exhortation to forsake Sin and Self.

O then, as reasonable creatures, as our Creator hath already made us, let us all forsake the evil of our own ways, being contrary to the nature and attributes of God, and to the word of his eternal commandment, that so our sins may be pardoned, our transgressions blotted out, eraced, forgotten, and buried in oblivion for ever.

For as we renounce and forsake our sins, ourselves also, and those thoughts, [...], affections and desires which desire us, and render us in [...]on [...]stent and opposite [...] holiness of God, we shall then, and not till then, be [...] unto God, through the one [...] or between God and man, and then because he liveth we shall live also, and when he [...] becomes our life shall ap­pear, we also shall appear with him [...] glory, and see him as he is. And I believe there are [...] in this audience who know these things, having [...] this faith in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ, [Page 22]and have obeyed him, pleased him, and have their high­est pleasure and satisfaction in him, and are therefore truly thankful unto him, as the greatest favour and bles­sing.

But to pursue these things so far as my understand­ing is opened at this time, I further add, that there are some among ourselves at this day, come in but not by the door, who do not believe, and therefore do not please God, but are led astray from him, and from the true fellowship of the Sons of the day of God, by their na­tural and animal appetites and desires, gratifying them­selves, and their carnal and corrupt inclinations and dispositions, to which they are so attached and bent, that they had rather they had no future state, being ig­norant of the glories there, than be sequestred from the mean and sordid views of sense; taking pains likewise to quench and render ineffectual in others, those good impressions of holiness and virtue, which, by the grace and goodness of God, have been begun in them; which is matter of sorrow, and concern of soul, in those who love them for the Lord's sake and their own, and in his love travel for their eternal welfare and salvation. And therefore we speak the truth as we have it to declare, that as seed it may take effect according to the ground into which it falls, and for that reason I would have all to come to a due consideration of their ways, and be wise in time.

To the Youth of both Sexes.

Young men and women, I would address these things in a particular manner unto you, in the love and grace of God, which, at this time, I feel in my heart toward you, that you may use your understandings as humane kind, and not submit to thoughts, words, or actions be­low you; many of you are furnished with good under­standings as men, let them not be misused, misapplyed, or perverted, by servile lusts, of any kind, or made sub­servient unto them, in yourselves or others, on any ac­count; [Page 23]but remember the Lord in time, seek him whilst he may be found, consider his holy workings in you, from one time to another, in coolness and humility, un­til thereby you become acquainted with him; by the revelation and manifestation of his power, whereby you will be settled and established in the truth, so as that no subtility or transformation of the enemy or adversary of souls can deceive you. And when you come to know the truth as it is in Jesus, the divine, living, eternal Truth of God to be acquainted with this in your own hearts, you shall not then be deceived by the cunning craftiness of ungodly men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive the rest of mankind, especially the ignorant and credulous, for their own covetous ends and gain, and for the obtaining of the riches, honors and glories of the world, who, whilst they pretend to direct others in the way of life, and to the glory of God, do not know it nor seek it in themselves, nor seriously believe it, as ap­pears fully by their lust after those things which do not pertain to the kingdom of God, but of this world only: But by their fruits ye shall know them.

They who walk and dwell in the divine light of the Son of God, cannot be deceived concerning the things of God, but they who dwell in darkness, the prince of the power of the darkness of this world can come upon them unaware, and surprise them; even all those (as well as others) who profess to believe in the light of the Son of God (and to be born of God) who is the bright­ness of the eternal and never changing day, and yet walk in darkness and in its gloomy shades and ways.

O! then, take the saving counsel of Christ the Son of God, which he gave of old and still giveth, ‘Believe in the light.’ In God who is the light, and in Je­sus Christ who is the eternal emanation of the Father's glory, that so you may become children of that light and holy day of God, which even now, in some degree, shin­eth in your hearts and minds, and gives you knowledge of the true and living God, which you can never acquire [Page 24]by any other means, but by the inshining of this divine light and grace of the Son of God, the merciful Saviour of human kind.

Believe therefore, I say, in that divine light which opposeth darkness in you, according to that saying, " * ‘God who commandeth the light to shine out of dark­ness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.’ And walk not in darkness, nor in the way of it, least you stumble and fall, and do not know at what, and everlasting darkness and the power thereof surround you, and inclose you, so that you see the light no more for ever, nor the glory of God, that therein re­mains for evermore.

The word of God who appeared of old in an holy human mind, cloathed with human flesh without us, appears now in the minds of mankind; (the divine na­ture being cloathed still, and that inseperably for ever, with the same human mind) not in the same body of flesh, or with bodily parts, for that is the first vail, but in the human mind, which is the second vail; the word of God, the wisdom and power of God, therefore is cloathed with a rational nature, which is as a veil to the divine nature, and in that he appears in the minds of mankind, being in the same nature wherein he is like unto us in all things, sin excepted.

The true God therefore is come near unto mankind, even in our own hearts and in our own nature, that as the Son is made partaker of human nature by the will of the Father, and therewith cloathed, so we likewise by the same will, through the glorious work of regeneration, might be cloathed with the divine nature, in our inner man, and made partakers thereof in him: That as we could not do the will of God, nor please him as we ought, in our first and animal state and nature, because of the weakness, ignorance, darkness and uncleanness [Page 25]of it, we may now do his holy will through faith in his word, and virtue of the divine nature in him, of which being born again after the inner-man, we become the sons of God, and by which great and wonderful work, when finished, we are established, as stars in the firma­ment of his eternal power for ever, and fall no more, but everlastingly do the will of God, and please him.

But though this divine light, thus veiled, is glorious, so that we cannot behold him with open face, so long as we are sinful and impure, and his appearance, through our own darkness, seems then but small and glimmer­ing, hardly perceptible; yet if we sincerely believe in the least appearance thus of the Son of God, and follow the views we have thereby, in abstaining from evil things, and in saying, doing, or suffering, as he calleth and leadeth, though in small things, according to our strength, we shall then, still more and more, proceed and increase in the knowledge of him, and the Father in and by him, to our complete redemption and salvation in due time, to the glory of God and the Lamb, and to our own eternal and unspeakable peace and joy.

And if we make right use of the understanding which God hath thus given unto us, unto his glory, he will in­crease it to our comfort, and give us more and more the knowledge of himself, and of his ways. In his light we shall see more light, as we increase in purity, as it is said by the Apostle, * ‘If any one of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him: But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.’ And not hunt after the wisdom of this world in your own wills and ways, or think to find God, the knowledge of God, or of the things of God there, or thereby, ‘For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.’ See 1 Corinth. 1.19, 20, 21, to the end.

[Page 26] * ‘There is a wisdom which descendeth not from Above, is earthly, sensual for natural and devilish. But the wisdom which is from Above, is [...], then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and with­out hypocrisy.’ Ungodly men are, by their own wisdom wise to do evil, but how to do good they know not. Look therefore unto the Spirit of Christ, the wis­dom of God in your own hearts, mind his leadings and dictates there, and he will teach you more in a little time, and give you a better understanding in the things of God, and way of eternal life, and clearer view of God, than by all your natural parts and faculties, and searches thereby without, you are able to make, or even can be informed of, by any other way or means.

The Son of God, in the days of his flesh, spake as ne­ver man spake, and he speaketh so still, his words are spirit and life still, and the more so in that he is come nearer unto mankind, and we unto him: We who some­times were afar off, are now brought near by the life of Christ.

The Lord is become the teacher of his people himself, blessed be his Holy Name, and there are many witnesses of it at this day, in many parts of the world. I am not speaking as in the open air only, for there are many, and even in this assembly, who do know these things by happy experience, being witnesses of them in some good degree, and what the Lord hath done, and is still doing in them and for them, by his Holy Spirit in their hearts, and therefore they still believe in him, and are confirm­ed therein, and that the Lord of Life and Immortality will yet do more and more abundantly, and more ex­cellently for his faithful ones, than what he hath alrea­dy done.

And I entreat you, young people, of both sexes, that you do not sit down contented, under an accidental form [Page 27]of Religion and worship, obtained by tradition as the [...] parents, who obtained a living [...] God by the operation of the Spirit of his Son; and by [...] him, and serving him faithfully in their [...] him, and he was with them, and [...] freely in all their worship and services, by the comfort of his holy and divine Presence: But seek ye the the living God, for and in yourselves; for he saith, "They that seek me early only shall find me." This is encouragement indeed, to go upon that most needful and glorious work.

And I can tell you, through the infinite mercy and goodness of God that there are more excellent enjoy­ments in the sense of the presence of God, the Eternal Fountain of all good, in a state of reconciliation with him, through Christ the Lord, than there is or can be, in all the things and pleasures of this world, that the heart of man can conceive, or desire, or wish for, if he might have them all without rebuke, or any account to be given for the use or abuse of them, in this world or that which is to come.

They are no way to be compared unto the Lord him­self, who is ever living divine and holy love, and an ocean of eternal, everlasting and undeclarable pleasure. Many times, my friends, we sit in our meetings, though in silence, under the canopy of Divine Love; there is our true and solid peace; this many times, begets fresh desires, and a f [...]rther search and breathing of souls, af­ter the living God, and a f [...]rther enquiry after an en­crease of the peace and comfortable enjoyments of his living and life-giving presence in our minds.

And you know, that many times, through the won­derful mercy and condescension of the Most High, as we sit in our a [...]semb [...]i [...]s, under the canopy of his good­ness, his [...] making presence dissolves us into an efflux of tears, which flow in love to God from the hearts and eyes of the people, and visited of the Lord.

[Page 28] Many of us, in the times of our convincement of the truth of God, having a glimpse of him who we had pierced by our transgressions, were sorrowful and wept abundantly, because of our sins, and the offences of man­kind, against the pure, holy, just and good God, our Creator; but then, superexalted glory be given, as due to our God, all our sins being forgiven, through his mercy declared by Christ the Lord, and the stains and pollutions of our transgressions wiped away, by the soul-baptizing shames of Divine Love, the tears of joy flow­ing from the eyes many times, in a solid sense of that love moving in our hearts, far transcended the tears of sorrow. The ministration of condemnation is glorious in its time, but the ministration of justification and re­conciliation unto our Creator, through divine and heart-melting love, is more glorious, and in that holy love, and the life of it is God, who is love, most acceptably adored.

The minds of mankind have departed from the true and living God, and gone a whoring after other gods of their own ch [...]sing; they have been drawn out by their senses, after the visible things of this world, the idle vanities and foolish sinful pleasures of it, mere trifles, and being incessantly exercised therein, and be­come habitual, they do not so much as consider the great work of the creation of God, nor who made them, nor his great wisdom and power thereby, but are constant­ly amused and carried away in their minds by worthless toys and trifles, a shame to mankind; who should and might have more understanding, prudence and wisdom.

Therefore, O ye young ones, and of all ranks and sexes here to-day, abstain from all vain and hurtful things, and labour with holy and servent zeal, more and more after the knowledge of God, and to please him by all the means which he hath afforded, that you may not be sound wanting: that there may not be such a dread­ful inscription found against any of you as against some of old, who were sporting themselves in their excesses, [Page 29]and prophaning the captive vessels of the temple of God, in the time of their mirth and joviality, but were quick­ly weighed in the balance of God, and found wanting, they were light as the dust and chaff, not fit for his use, and the kingdom was suddenly rent from them, and given to the servant of God, employed for their chas­tisement and correction.

Yet there is a more excellent kingdom, even the kingdom of Heaven, offered unto us: For in that day when the inhabitants of this land were greatly departed from Charity, the bond of Christian peace, and gone in­to Enmity, sect against sect, party against party, and one against another, contending unto a sea of blood, for various opinions, about what they called Religion, these works so contrary to the nature and end of the Christian [...]aith and doctrine, at the same time testifying against them, that they were not in the nature and Spirit of Christ, nor of the religion of the Primitives; nor subjects o [...] Christ, the Prince of Righteousness and Di­vine Peace, the King of Salem, nor of his kingdom.

Then it was that the Almighty arose in the bright­ness of his divine light, and therein manifested himself to a hidden People scattered among the multitudes in the Nations who were sincerely seeking the Lord with all their souls, and unto them it pleased him to reveal his kingdom, and by the cogent force of his Divine Grace and Love, to draw them together into one mind the mind of Christ, and to settle them therein, as one Body, a Holy Nation, a Royal Priesthood, and Peculiar People unto himself, zealous of goods Works, in a state of innocence and holiness of his own working in them; freed from the blind, furious and destructive zeal of the frenzy multitude in that day, and by the example doc­trine and nature of the Prince of Peace, their divine Holy Head and Law-giver, renounced the destructive carnal weapons of war and blood [...]hed for ever, and put on the whole Armour of Light, under the banner where­of they made war, not upon the people of the land, their [Page 30]fellow subjects, nor upon the lawful prince of the land, to whom they learned subjection in things below, ac­cording to the ordinance of God on that behalf, and rules of the kingdom, for the doing of justice and truth among the children of men; but, as of old, the wea­pons of their warfare were directed and employed a­gainst spiritual wickedness, though exalted in the high­est places of the earth, and great was the conflict in that day, when the Son of God erected his holy ensign and standard of righteousness, light and truth, against the fallen and apostatiz'd Nations; for the camp of the Lord was surrounded on every side, and war proclaim­ed and made against him and his faithful followers (though but a few) by all sects, parties, and powers, of the earth, under every name but the name of Jesus, which they despised in their ways, fought against by their works, and opposed with all their might, but did not prevail; for his standard is sure, and standing still, and shall never fall; for the Nations of this world shall be subdued thereby in due time, and submit unto the great Captain of the armies of God, the Lord Jeho­vah, in whom there is everlasting and all-sufficient strength, now going forth upon his white horse, con­quering and to co [...]quer, and in that day who shall be able to stand or oppose him?

Is God therefore a respecter of persons, or Nations, or parties, that it pleased him to make choice of that people, and passed by the main body of those in the land, and many more worthy in the sight of men than they? No, that I do not mean; but the Most High, in the council of his wisdom and goodness, and for the ma­nifestation and exaltation of his power, and purposes of his own glory, and their salvation, called them by his grace to believe in his only begotten Son, the Word of Life, as revealed in their hearts.

And according to the course of the good Providence of God, and his way of working in the earth, now as of [Page 31]old, as saith an apostle of Christ, * ‘Ye see your calling brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things that are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence.’ But as God is no respecter of persons, but mercifully inviteth all Nations unto salvation, saying, (by his prophet of old) ‘Come unto me all ye ends of the Earth, and be ye saved.’ And again, ‘The Spirit and Bride say come: and let him that heareth say come: and let him that is a-thirst come: and whosoever will, let him take the Water of Life freely.’ So that all mankind are invited unto salvation upon one founda­tion and motive; the love of God in Christ Jesus unto all Nations, and all may come that will come, or even through other motives in themselves, may refuse, neglect, despise, and fall short of so great riches and sal­vation.

And, notwithstanding the goodness of God to the last generation, who believed in his eternal word, and pleas­ed him, and the offers of salvation unto this present age, the offspring of the last, and unto the people of this land in general, as also unto other Nations; if we, or they who now profess the same truth and Saviour in words before men, and keep together in one body or bo­dies, in any outward manner only, under any forms of worship, or rules of discipline left by them, if we, or any among us, should apostatize from the grace, light and Spirit of the Son of God, and proceed, or set up in our own strength, craft and earthly wisdom, and become rich therein, in our own eyes: then the Lord will [Page 32]leave us to our own blind conduct, as he hath ever done all such, and ever will throughout all generations, and then we shall justly fall, as they have done, below the world, as the unsavory salt, and be trodden under the feet of men.

But if you, who are of this present Generation, and profess the truth of God by tradition only, and not by convincement by the Spirit of Christ in your own hearts, will answer the invitation of God, who is striving with you, immediately; and instrumentally by his ministers, who have no pay from you, nor desire any of any kind, who seek not yours but you, and that not unto ourselves but to the Lord, and embrace the eternal and present Truth freely, the Lord will exalt all such above the world, and all the vain glories, and sinful lusts, and pleasures therein.

But blessed be the Name of the Lord, he still conti­nues us as a people to his own glory; for as the off­spring of the first generation under this dispensation came up from their childhood in nature, embraced the traditions of their fathers, before they know the truth, yet being in God's appointed time, convinced in their own hearts, of the holy Spirit of Christ, of the truth and of the dispensation of God unto his people at that time, it then became the Religion of their judgment and experience, and not by tradition only.

And if we, in this present age, continue to be faith­ful unto God, and the testimony of truth which came unto them and unto us, and grow up higher and higher in virtue, and in the nature of Christ and his kingdom of peace and love, the ages succeeding, embracing and remaining in the same faith, peace and love, will still ascend higher and higher in the same, as one man, from stature to stature, faith to faith, grace to grace, and glo­ry to glory, until the whole body, and all who shall be gathered thereunto, by the Spirit and Power of the Lord, shall arrive, through the infinite power and wisdom of the Highest, unto the measure of the stature of the full­ness [Page 33]of Christ, as the church, which is his Body and Spouse, the fulness of him who filleth all in all.

But once more I say, if we should be so unhappy as to apostatize from the life of Christ in us, and sit down under an empty show and form of religion and worship, without the thing itself, we shall fall short of the king­dom of God (which God forbid) as many communities, who began well in their days, and ran well for a season, though their successors have professed the same truths according to the degrees of manifestation, have fallen short of the truth, and utterly failed; from which the Lord himself, our only help, support and aid, preserve us, and I hope he will, for his own name and glory, preserve us.

My friends, God Almighty is not to be stopt or hin­dered in his common course; he will always have a people to believe in him, obey him, wait upon him and worship him in the Spirit of his Son, Christ the Lord, the Eternal Truth; as a holy elect seed, to love, fear and serve him.

O, saith my soul, that we may so behave ourselves, as that we may ever be and remain in the favour of God, and every name under the divine and peaceable govern­ment of the holy Truth, in the whole course of their lives, in our morals and every thing we do or say, then the Lord will cause his righteousness to go before us, and his day more and more to arise upon us, even the Son of Righteousness, with divine healing virtue as un­der his wings. The Lord heal all our mala [...]ies, and the backslidings of the sick and weary among us, re­ceive those graciously who return unto him, and lead, instruct, and guide us all into his everlasting kingdom of glory, to the honor and praise of his Eternal and ever living Name.

Oh! that every soul here present were so alive and sensible as to feel the love of God shed abroad in your hearts; your faith then, and your hope likewise would be turned into experience, work by love, and be accept­able [Page 34]unto the Almighty and please him; your adoration and [...] minds, and out of the view of [...] love, is acceptable [...] the Lord.

No [...] unto his voice in you; and [...] abroad in your hearts, by his [...]; be true unto th [...]se [...] the Lord bring up [...] you in your own minds; for they are done by [...] in love, through in the state some ma [...] yet be in, you do [...] or believe it; forsake the evil of your ways so ma­ny as yet remain therein and look to the power and vir­tue of the Truth, that you may be [...] and saved thereby, and brought up, and [...] in the fa­vour and image of God, which is righteousness and true holiness; for God will have a people upon the earth, as witnesses for him, against the wa [...] and corruptions of the world, until the Lord himself reign over all peo­ple and Nations under Heaven, which he will do in his own time, as I am more an I more persuaded and assur­ed; notwithstanding the great [...] at present, and opposition of the children of men through man, [...], and unlikeliness of it at this day, when so [...] Refor­mation appears, after so many Nations of the world have professed the name of the Our true and living God and Jesus Christ the Son of God, with so little advance towards him in so many ages.

A general view of there things was [...] me soon af­ter I sat down in this [...] this afternoon, and [...] and ability [...] Gra [...] of God: I shall now draw to a [...] unto you young men and women, that you [...] your minds [...] and your [...], after the [...] [Page 35]the world, for they are in the Broad Way, and lead to destruction.

The Lord himself knows you, and loves you, and will not abridge you, in the course of his Providence, of any thing that is good and sitting of which let the Lord be judge, and not your own [...] and [...] and proper for you in your several stations and services unto him, if you love, obey and follow him truly, according to what you know, and please him, which is your reasonable duty, he will preserve you from all evil, and give you at last to swim in the ocean of his abounding and overflow­ing goodness to all eternity. And that it may be the end and conclusion of all that are here, is the very desire of my soul for you this evening.

FINIS.

The foregoing Sermon was taken in short hand, and transcribed at length, and perused by the said Story, and published by his permission.

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