Historical texts  >  Early Quaker Sermons  >  John Vaughton (1694)

A Sermon

Preached by

Mr. John Vaughton,

In Grace-Church-Street, April 1, 1694.

It is a great mercy and kindness, that God has been pleased to open the way of life and salvation to the souls of many people, that in this our day and generation were in great distress, for want of the knowledge of it; and this knowledge is given to us through the blessed appearance and revelation of the power and Spirit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to which, my Friends, blessed be the name of the Lord, we have been turned in our day and generation. This is the message and testimony that God raised up His Servants to bear among us in our day and time, who came in the Spirit and power of our Lord Jesus Christ, having been made the monuments of God's mercy through faith in Him that died for our sins, and rose again for our justification. The blessed message and testimony which they bare among us, was in the evidence and demonstration of the Spirit and power of the Lord Jesus; for they came indeed to preach the Gospel of life and salvation, and the way they took to preach the Gospel to us in our day, was the same way that the holy Apostle Paul in his day was sent to preach the Gospel, who said, We are sent of God to turn people from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God. The holy Apostle proposed the end to which they were sent, to turn the sons and daughters of men from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to the power of God, that they might receive remission of sins, and an inheritance among them which are sanctified through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.

O Friends! This faith in Christ is a living faith, it is a faith of the operation of God. God works it in us by His own Spirit and power. There are many that pretend to have faith in Christ, that are strangers to the operation of the power of the Spirit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and so do not know nor are made partakers of that faith which works by love, that gives them victory over the world; and preserves them and keeps them out of the evil of the world

Now Friends, it is my desire that you may turn from darkness to light; that you all may believe in Christ, and walk in Him, that you may be sensible that the blood of Jesus Christ, the dear and blessed Son of God cleanses from all sin, from all unrighteousness, and from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. That so the end of the labor, travail, and testimonies of all the faithful Messengers and Servants whom the Lord has raised up in this our day, and sent to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to the power of God; that their labor and travail, I say, may not be in vain, that we may come to believe in the light, that we may be children of the light and of the day, that so we may come to walk in the light. And then my Friends, we shall all come to be brought into an heavenly fellowship; If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, the dear Son of God, cleanses us from all sin. And this is a work that will be profitable for all to know, seeing no unclean thing shall ever enter into the kingdom of God.

Friends, our justification is indeed in and through and by the Lord Jesus Christ, for His sake, not our own. Anything that we have done or can do, will not have a tendency to make our peace with God, seeing that we can do nothing ourselves, that is acceptable and well pleasing to God. Therefore we cannot in the least (as has been unjustly charged upon us) disesteem or put a light esteem on what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us, in His own Person, without us, nor upon what, by His own power and Spirit, He has wrought in our hearts: But we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, both as to His outward appearance, as He was God manifest in the flesh; and also, in His inward and spiritual appearance in our souls. We believe in Him that has appeared by His light, and grace, and truth in our hearts, and we know the effectual working and operation of His divine power to sanctify, and cleanse, and purify our souls; and thereby we come to have a real sense of the benefit and advantage, that the souls of the children of men have in and by the death, sufferings, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Till people come to believe in His spiritual appearance, by His light, and grace, and truth in their hearts, and to receive Him, and entertain Him, and let Him have a place in their souls, that He by His power may purge away sin and transgression; while men remain rebellious and stubborn, and will not let Him in, when He stands and knocks at the door of their hearts, that He may come in and sup with them, and they with Him; when men rebel against His heavenly light within them, and turn away from His divine grace and holy Spirit, and turn the grace of God into wantonness, lasciviousness, and run into uncleanness, drunkenness, pride, envy, malice, and bitterness, and into those things that are abominable and evil in the sight of the Lord; these men have no real advantage or benefit by the death and sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the satisfaction and atonement He has made for our sins, by that one offering and sacrifice of Himself; and they do not truly know the blessed end and design of His appearance and coming into the world, For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil, that He might finish transgression, and make an end of sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness.

My Friends, the end of the working of the invisible power and Spirit of Christ is, that He may have a place in all your hearts, and that you may entertain Him; for the Lord will draw a line of judgments upon all that go under the profession of Christianity, and own what the Lord Jesus Christ did without them, but will not receive Him, entertain Him, and believe in Him, as He does spiritually appear, and shine into their hearts by His divine light, grace, and Spirit.

My Friends, remember the sore judgments, miseries, calamities, and distress, that came upon the Jews, because of their rejecting Christ in His outward appearance in that prepared body, in which He came to do His Father's will; they would not own Him in His bodily appearance, but rejected Him, and set Him at nought, they crowned Him with thorns, and crucified the Lord of life and glory. He said to them, Except you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins, where I go you cannot come. And thus He spoke to Jerusalem, O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Thou that killest the Prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not; behold your house is left to you desolate, ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. He tells them of the calamity and distress that should come upon them and overtake them, and so it came to pass, because they rejected the love of God, which in Christ Jesus was extended to them, when He would have gathered them, and brought them into a state of reconciliation and peace with the living God; but they would not.

So now, my Friends, in this day of Christ's inward and spiritual appearance, you have had the testimonies of those that have been sent to you in the name, power, and Spirit of the living God; and yet many will not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, nor receive Him inwardly and spiritually appearing in their hearts, nor give way to Him, nor wait and attend upon Him, to do that work in them and for them, which they cannot do for themselves: What work is that? The work of sanctification. For none come to be justified freely by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, but they who are sanctified by the Spirit of Christ, and made partakers of the divine nature. So that it is absolutely necessary for us to know Christ's power and Spirit, to renew and sanctify our souls, and purify and cleanse us.

When we come to believe in the inward and spiritual appearance of Christ, and to know the work of sanctification, we cannot have a slight esteem of, nor disbelieve or undervalue, what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in His Person; but we shall come to find the benefit, gain, advantage, and profit of it redounding to our souls, through that one offering, when He offered Himself, through the eternal Spirit, as a Lamb without spot: He offered Himself once for all, and we have the benefit of it when we come to receive Him, live in obedience to Him, and answer His requirings, and walk in the Spirit; and then as the Apostle says, If we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, for all that is in the world, the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world, and the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

Therefore see to it, you that make a profession of it, see that as you have received the Lord Jesus Christ you walk as He walked, that you live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit, and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh; that you live not in malice, envy, or bitterness, and so grieve the good Spirit of God, and bring a burden upon the souls of the righteous.

We that are come to the sight and vision of heavenly things, and have the mysteries of the kingdom of God opened to us, are come to be made partakers of the gift of charity, which is a more excellent way; if this be wanting, all is wanting. What does the Apostle say? Though I speak with the tongues of men and Angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal; and though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing; and though I bestow all my goods to the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing.

These things have been often said and declared to you, Friends, and I have now this general testimony to give, in the dread and fear of the Lord God; they that love God above all, will love their neighbor as themselves, they will love those that are the Friends of God and of His people; nay, it is a duty incumbent on them, A new commandment, says our Savior, I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another. And we are not only to love one another, but to love our enemies; this our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us, Matthew 5:44, 45. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, for He causeth His sun to shine on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Now, my Friends, that you may keep in this love of God and love to one another, is the desire and breathing of my soul, that so your faith may not stand in the wisdom of men's words, but in the power of God: This power will bring down every high thought and imagination into subjection and obedience to Christ, that we may walk before Him to all well-pleasing, that when we come to die, we may lay down our heads in peace, and be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and, at the end of our days, we may receive the end of our faith, the salvation of our immortal souls.

Friends, to the grace of God I commend you, the Lord of life preserve and keep you, that you may be safe in the hands of God, and abide under the shadow of His wing, and be surrounded with His almighty Arm, who has hitherto preserved us in all our solemn meetings and assemblies, when the enemies of God's truth have risen up against us; the remembrance of it should be sweet and pleasant to us, when the floods of the ungodly were mustered up against us, and sometimes hauled us out of our meetings to goals and prisons, for bearing testimony to the truth of God in our day: O the sweet and comfortable Presence of the Lord that then attended us! And, blessed be His name, He waited to be gracious to us, and did work manifold deliverances for us. Praise and glory be given to the eternal and almighty God, whose divine power and providence has brought a calm over the Nation, so that now we enjoy our meetings without trouble and molestation; O that we may be sensible of the wonderful love and mercy of God to us!

And, Friends, it greatly concerns us to be careful in the whole course of our lives, that we may not give any occasion for the obstructing or hazarding of the present peace and liberty we enjoy; O! there should be a serious care and tender regard to God's glory, and the honor of His great and excellent Name; and also, a care and concern for the reputation of our religion, and religious Societies, that none may have any occasion, or just ground to bespatter and reproach us, and render us odious to the Government under which we live.

Blessed be the name of the Lord, for the freedom and quiet seasons we enjoy, and that are continued by the mighty Arm and Power of the Lord; let all our souls bow before Him, and let us walk and live in a continual subjection to His divine Wisdom and Will, that our souls may be all bound up in the bundle of life, that we may serve the Lord with sincerity and perseverance to the end of our days, that then an abundant entrance may be ministered to us, into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.