Historical texts  >  Early Quaker Sermons  >  Samuel Waldenfield (1693)

A Sermon

Preached by

Mr. Samuel Waldenfield,

In Devonshire-House, March 11, 1693.

There is a day of visitation which the Lord has extended to the children of men, that we might everyone of us observe our season and time, that so we might be exercised in those things that relate to our everlasting peace and welfare in the world to come; for we are like to be accountable to the great God for the deeds done in the body. Therefore all have need to weigh and measure their ways and doings, that they may stand justified in the sight of God, through Jesus Christ, by whom we are visited, who has been given of the Father not only to be a Light, but a Leader to us; and blessed will all they be that come to be led by the Lord Jesus Christ.

For that is a very precious state to know this one way; for He is the alone way to the kingdom of God, and all those that make a profession of Him and reject His leadings and His counsel will fall short; they will meet with many things in the way that will turn them from the right way to the kingdom of God; but all those that follow the Lord Jesus Christ shall receive the crown of immortal and everlasting life and glory. For this following of Christ is a crucifying the old nature of man, it is a regenerating of man in his inward parts, without which none of us can come to see the kingdom of God. This is not an outward birth, nor an outward generation, nor a growing into any outward comprehension of things; but it is an inward mortifying the deeds of the flesh, and that you know no man can do but by and through the Spirit, If men walk after the flesh they must die, but if through the Spirit, says the Apostle, ye mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live: I do not speak of outward living in this world only, but of living to God eternally.

People in this world should live to the Lord, then it will be well with them when they come to die. When this outward earthly tabernacle and house of clay shall be dissolved, all such as live to the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, shall have a habitation and a dwelling with Him in His Father's kingdom; they will be made vessels of honor to glorify the Lord. Therefore the greatest matter and thing that we can press after in this life, and the most profitable, the most advantageous of all things, is, to press after an inward walking with God through Jesus Christ; for Christ says to His disciples, You that have followed Me through the work of regeneration, to you it shall be given to sit with Me in My Father's kingdom.

Now most people believe that these things are true, most that are called Christians believe that they are profitable; but to pursue and press after them a great many are short in. Some it may be are hindered by the delights, and pleasures, and vanities of this world; others it may be are hindered by some great exercise that they meet with, and by some sore affliction, not knowing the power that carries through and gives victory; and that is the power of the Lord Jesus Christ: So that the knowledge of Christ is a very profitable thing; I look upon it to be as necessary to be preached to many that call themselves Christians, as to a great many that are heathens. For if a man or woman profess to be a Christian and be not of a Christian Spirit and conversation, what will it signify? The instance that the Apostle Paul gives concerning the heathen will be more prevalent in the day of the Lord; and that is this, Romans 2:14, 15. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law; these having not the law, are a law unto themselves, which show the work of the law written in their hearts. No doubt but they were accepted of the Lord, according to their integrity and sincerity.

The Apostle Paul was an experienced man, and understood the nature, quality, and greatness of the law of God, which was dispensed to the Jews and given them for peculiar instruction, and for a Schoolmaster to bring them to Christ; for it was never given to complete salvation to any man without Christ; the Apostle tells you it was a Schoolmaster till Christ came. And if you observe that in the time of the law, the Jews time, Christ was made known in that dispensation; only there was a veil over the hearts of the Jews and they did not see so clearly, and there was an outward sign of it too among them; for in their worship and solemn assemblies they had an outward veil to cast over them; but there is an inward veil too which comes over the hearts of people, that eclipses the glory of Christ and the excellency of Christ, till that is rent and done away by an almighty Power, for there is nothing outward that can do it; when this comes to be taken off peoples hearts, then they can see Christ as He is.

And what if I should say comparatively, there is a veil over the hearts of many that are called Christians, that hinders them from seeing the beauty and excellency of Christ. They do not know the power of Christ nor the Government of His Spirit in their hearts; for people may profess Christianity as long as they will; if they do not know Christ to govern them, they are not true Christians. For one of the Prophets among the Jews could prophesy and foretell of Him; let us consider it, and apply it to your own souls, Isaiah 9:6, 7. For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the Government shall be upon His shoulder, and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; of the increase of His Government and Peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this. All these appellations and titles are ascribed to Christ Jesus, He has the Government upon Him, to lead and guide them in the way wherein they should go. Government is an extensive word, it imports authority and rule: This is applicable to Christ, and teaches that dignity that was conferred upon Christ and was really due to Him. No man can parallel it by any expression; there is reason in it, there is justice in it, there is a right and equity in it; Christ has right to reign and rule forever. I do not speak of outward Government, but of the Government of Christ in the souls of men: And here the devil was the first usurper. He usurped authority in the hearts of the children of men, and Christ was forsaken and deserted, People went from Him. For Christ was in the beginning of the world, the world was made by Him. Christ's divinity was from eternity, He was before Abraham was, the world was made by Him, and when He was in it, the world did not know Him; and when He came into the world, many were not willing that He should reign over them: The Jews said, We will not have this Man to reign over us.

Now if we should find this among Christians you would think it more wonderful and strange: it is now too common among the children of men. I pray God set it home upon all hearts, that we may let Him reign whose right it is. We will not have this Man to reign over us, say the Jews. Do any Christians say so? This is but discourse you will be ready to say; but, let me tell you, where People live in disobedience to the laws of Christ, this they do with a Witness.

But some may say, If we had lived in the Jews time, we would not have crucified the Lord of glory; yet they crucify Christ after the Spirit. For a man to live in swearing, drunkenness, pride, and ungodliness, is a crucifying of Christ and a rebelling against Christ: Men are not willing that Christ should reign over them.

So that religion and Christianity is a plain thing, People might run and read it, if they would but consider it. If People were but weighty and considerate in these great affairs, they might come to know under whose Government they are. The Apostle described a People that were under the power of satan, the prince of darkness, under satan the prince of the power of the air; that some were under his Government, and some under the Government of Christ and His Spirit. One would think these were two propositions so intelligible, that if people did but know and consider, they would, for interest sake, escape the evil, and cleave to that which is good.

Now Friends, I would have you deal candidly with your own souls, and see which Government you are under, the prince of the power of the air, that rules in the hearts of the Children of disobedience, or the Government of Christ. He that is disobedient to God, to His Spirit, and Light, and Grace, is under the Government and the power of the prince of darkness. This is fulfilled in the prophecy of the Messiah, and it was the great iniquity of the Jews, and their great unhappiness and misery, that when the Messiah came into the world, they would not be governed by Him. Do not you think it much more ungrateful, if we that are called Christians will not suffer Christ to reign over us? It is unreasonable, and unchristian, and unequal; therefore that you should all consider of it, I will speak a little of the Government of Christ, with some evidence and demonstration, and in a two-fold manner, that you might more easily distinguish: There are some Christians that expect that Christ shall come and reign on the earth, and then they hope to be under His Government; and it may be they are not so careful to mind the present time and to know His reign and Government now. There are another sort of people, whom God in His infinite mercy has reached to in their consciences, and convinced them that Christ has a right to reign now; He had a right from the beginning, He always had a right, never forfeited it, never was deprived of it; He has a two-fold right to reign over the sons and daughters of men.

First, The first is by the right of Creation: He created us. None deny, I hope, that the world was created by Christ; therefore He has a right to govern in it. This is an undeniable argument, no man can gainsay it, but that there is a right and justice belongs to Him to rule and govern that which He has made; therefore it is the most ungrateful and unnatural thing, for men to oppose the reign and government of Christ.

Secondly, Christ has a right to reign over the sons and daughters of men, on account of His purchase: He did not only create them, but He did also purchase them at the dearest rate, with the price of His own precious blood; we were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, or house, land, or earthly treasure, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot; He gave Himself a ransom for mankind; he tasted death for every man. One would think that every mouth should be stopped; so there is a two-fold right that Christ our Redeemer has to reign over us; yet many will not let Him reign, nor let Him exercise His dominion; What do you think of these? What will become of them?

When our Lord Jesus Christ was in the world, He spoke a parable to the Jews; I will repeat it, and I would have you all consider it, whether the application may not be made to Christians that rebel against Him, Luke 20:9-16. A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to the husbandmen, and went into a far Country for a long time: And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard; but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent another servant, and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent the third, and they wounded him also, and cast him out: Then said the Lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved Son, it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the Heir, come let us kill him that the inheritance may be ours; so they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What therefore shall the Lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. If I should apply this, and bring it over to Christians, how dreadful would it be! The Lord turned the rebellious Jews out of their country, and overthrew their city, the city of Jerusalem, and destroyed the temple, and left not one stone upon another.

Now consider, the Lord Jesus Christ has planted you a vineyard, I will give you a Scripture for it if you please, the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts was the house of Israel; I mean the children of men. It was not an outward vineyard, the House of Israel was His pleasant Plant. Now as the Lord looked for fruit from them; so he expects fruit from us. The Lord has sent His Servants in one age and in another age, and how have Christians treated them? They have thrown them into goals and prisons, and evilly entreated them; and they have boasted and in effect said, The inheritance is ours; we have ordinances; we have these accomplishments, and gifts, and graces; we need not such a silly sort of people come to us, and preach Christ and the light within us; there is no need of that; but you must be Christians, and come to Church, to this meeting, and the other meeting.

I do not speak by way of reflection; but I would do it to open your understandings in the mystery of the kingdom of God and true religion. The faithful Servants of the Lord have had hard treatment in this Country, and other Countries in this present age, as well as in former ages; but that is not all, the Lord of the vineyard, the great almighty God has sent His Son among you; will you reverence Him, and bring forth fruit to Him? What do you say? Have you fruit for Him? I cannot say of a wicked people, they have fruit for the Lord, for their fruit is untimely fruit, their fruit is iniquity and transgression; but the fruit that is acceptable to the Lord is holiness and righteousness: this is the fruit that God expects from you. Let me tell you Friends, if you will not reverence His Son Jesus Christ, you will be as desolate in the day of judgment as the Jews were; you may possibly escape the judgment of God in this world, but not then.

Friends, countrymen, and citizens, be you found bringing forth fruit to the Lord, and be not joined to that which is evil; be not governed by the power of the prince of the air: You know where his rule is, he would rule in your hearts, if you should give way to him; but resist the devil, and let the kingdom of Christ and His holy Government be set up in every one of your souls; then you will be found bringing forth fruit to God, which will be acceptable to Him: In the days of old, the Prophet takes notice of it, where he says, I found Israel as grapes in the wilderness; I found them so in their innocence, in their upright state, in their primitive condition; your Fathers were, a kind of first ripe fruits to Me, they were as the first ripe fruits of a fig-tree, before the time they separated themselves, and bowed to Baal.

Men and women in their tender days, before they came to act evil with violence, were in better esteem with the Lord; they were then pleasing to Him as the first fruits of a fig-tree, when they were in their innocence and uprightness: And many people have come into this good frame of mind and Spirit; and yet afterward have gone and separated themselves from the Lord, from the power and Spirit of Christ; they have gone from it, just as many did that were called Christians of old. In the Apostle's time there were some Christians that took this course, they were acceptable to the Lord for a time, they did run well for a time, and pray how did they begin? Which way did they go? They began in obedience and in subjection to Christ and His Spirit, but they separated themselves afterward, and the Apostle writes to them, do but consider it, O foolish Galatians! Who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth; Why what was the matter? Before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you; are ye so foolish, having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? So I may say to many called Christians that live in this Land, and obey not the truth but live in ungodliness: O foolish People! Who has bewitched you? You begun in the Spirit, and then you looked like Quakers, as some might upbraid you.

So that you see that it was above sixteen hundred years ago, that the Apostle did preach this truth, preached the Spirit. What have you done? You did run well, when you were first convinced you began in the Spirit: How in the Spirit? The Spirit of Christ did rule and govern you; there was a right beginning, there was a right Christian life; do you now think to be made perfect by the flesh? So we have abundance of such Christians in the world, that have rejected the Spirit, and it is no part of their religion to walk in the Spirit; they have given it a hard name, an ill name, they have frightened people out of it; they say, Take heed of the Spirit, that you be not deceived by it, and misled by it, you pretend to be led by the Spirit, take heed of it. But this was the foundation of the Gospel preaching, the ministry in the Apostle's times, they laid this foundation, I believe an hundred instances might be produced out of the Holy Scriptures to assert this doctrine. You know our Lord Jesus Christ, when He was to go out of the world, said, I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be alsoƒ And 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 youƒHowbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truthƒ(See John Chapters 14 and 16). What! Must we reject this doctrine? Must this be no article of the Christian faith, to believe in the holy Spirit? Is not this a great obstruction and impediment to religion and Christianity? Let me tell you, till people come to the Lord Jesus Christ and to His truth and Spirit, it will never be well with Christendom. This ungrateful use of the children of men, in resisting, and grieving, and slighting the holy Spirit, has brought all the judgments, miseries, and calamities that are come upon us.

O how do all manner of abominations, iniquities, and transgressions abound in the world! How do they run like a flood in the midst of us! There is no returning to the Lord; if the Lord should send an Angel from heaven, to set a mark on the forehead of all them that sigh, and cry, and mourn, and lament for the abominations and sins of the people of this Nation, that make it desolate, how few would be found that are true Mourners for their own sins, and the sins of the whole Nation!

This is the end and result of our ministry and testimony among you, to turn people from the evil of their ways; this was the end of Christ's coming into the world; for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil, and that People might turn from their evil ways, and forsake the pomps and vanities of this wicked world and all the sinful lusts of the flesh.

This is that which you will find to be owned in the Rubrick of the Church of England; sure it was an excellent Spirit that attended People in those days, when there was an introducing and bringing into their Church-Society and Congregation; they were very strict in it if they mean as they say. When they are admitted as Church-Members, it is allowed to infants and little children, to be brought into the Church by that they call Baptism, or sprinkling of water upon their faces; when this is administered to them, because they are infants, they have sureties to appear and speak for them and engage for them. And what do they engage? They engage against the devil, the great usurper, that so Christ might reign absolute: The sureties promise and vow three things in the child's name, That it shall forsake the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh, and keep God's holy commandments to their lives end.

There is not a Quaker in England that can preach up a doctrine that speaks more absolutely against the devil than this; I wish that all the Church of England, and dissenters likewise, would universally engage themselves in this work against the world, the flesh, and the devil: What brave times should we have then! How would true religion and Christianity flourish among us! But they say and do not. O my Friends! It is sorrow to me when I consider it; I do not speak by way of reflection, but out of pure love to your souls. O! that the Lord would persuade you all to engage in this holy war against the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world. I may say it with lamentation; wickedness, pride, and arrogance abound in this Land and in other Nations, though the judgments of God have been threatened, and His mercies also displayed; yet neither the one nor the other have awakened us nor allured us, we do not grow much better. What is this, but a ripening us and fitting us for judgment and for a day of slaughter, when God will pour out all His wrath? O Friends! Bow your souls before the God of heaven, and be humbled under His mighty hand, that so you may escape the wrath that is to come.

So my Friends, you see the nature of Christianity, as well what was intended of old as at this day; you have the testimony of the Prophets and Apostles, and a little hint of the primitive Christians, and of the Reformers of our times and these latter ages of the world.

I do not question, but such of elder times as were called Fathers of the Church, and likewise such as Luther and Calvin and those of latter days were sincere in their beginnings. What an excellent thing would it be, if all Protestants would put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and set up His kingdom, and let Him reign in their hearts; they will in their prayers acknowledge Thine in the Kingdom, but they will not let Him have it, but shut Him out: For the kingdom of God is within men. We read in the Gospel that Christ shall say to some at the last day, I know ye not, depart from me ye workers of iniquity: And they shall say, Lord, dost thou not know us? We have eaten and drank in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets; but he shall say unto them, depart from me, I was a stranger and ye took me not inƒPeople that live in rioting and drunkenness, swearing and prophaneness and ungodliness will not let Christ into their hearts.

Friends, I do assert the present reign of Christ in the hearts of the children of men; what do you think of it? Do you believe it should be so? It is said, Isaiah 9:7. Of the increase of His Government and Peace there shall be no end, his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. The Prophet Daniel speaks of it, Daniel 7:9, 10, 27. I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool, his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before him, thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were openedƒhis kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. The Messiah, says the Prophet, shall finish the transgression, and make an end of sins, and make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness.

Some people think that the reign and Government of Christ is only in heaven above, where He sits on the right hand of the Majesty on high; but they do not think that He is near the children of men; they do not allow His Kingly office, nor His prophetical and priestly office: Many cry out against the Quakers, that they deny these three offices of Christ: What think you of it? I declare to you, That Christ is a King that shall reign in righteousness, and the Isles shall wait for his law; the law shall go forth from mount Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem: So that Christ is spoken of as a King that shall reign and rule, and His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.

As Christ is a King to reign and rule, so He is also a Priest forever, not after the order of Aaron, but after the order of Melchisedeck. He is a Priest, What for? To finish transgression, to make an end of sin and purge it away. Now the Priests under the law, after the order of Aaron, could not do this; they made use of blood, they sprinkled the sacrifice with blood, but they could not cleanse the soul from sin; but Christ comes, He is a Priest and offers a sacrifice for all, and He offers up Himself, and by that one offering He has forever perfected them that are sanctified; He does it effectually: So Daniel prophesied, He shall make an end of sin, and bring in an everlasting righteousness.

O! say some People, we will allow all this to Christ, when He comes to reign with His Church, then shall His reign be one and His government one. But you should let Him be a King now, and a Priest now: Consider the reason of it, why it should be now. There is sin and iniquity in this world, but there is no iniquity in the kingdom of heaven, Nothing that works abomination or makes a lie can come there. If Christ will purge us from sin, He must come down from heaven among us; and so He does, blessed be His Name forever. He is the High-Priest of our profession, and He has made us partakers of the blessing of cleansing from sin, by the purifying virtue of His own precious blood, and the sanctification of His Spirit.

Then, consider in the next place, Christ is a Prophet, to teach and instruct His People in the things that belong to their everlasting peace.

If there was an inspired Prophet in this Land, we should be willing to hear what that Prophet did say, if he had good things to tell, and would warn us what evils we should escape. Friends, you have a Prophet now, but you do not hear Him; this is according to the testimony of Moses of old, A Prophet, says Moses, shall the Lord God raise up like unto me, and him shall ye hear in all things. Do you hear this Prophet? Who is it? It is the Lord Jesus Christ; hear this great Prophet. What if we do not hear Him? He that heareth him not shall be cut off from among the people. The Apostle, when he writes to the Hebrews, asserts the divinity of Christ and His Priestly office, and we do own and assert the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ also.

Now to make the application of this to your souls, let Christ be your High-Priest, Prophet, and King, your Law-giver, Counselor, and Leader, that He may bring you to glory, to a blessed state of salvation and eternal life. And so to the Lord Jesus Christ I do recommend you and leave you. You may find much of this fulfilled in you, as you give up yourselves to the Teaching of the Spirit of God, and of the Grace of God; for if People will not be thus taught, they will never learn Christianity. So that People must come to Christ the great Prophet to learn of Him and be taught by Him, else they can never be good Christians. Do you not read this prophecy concerning God's People, They shall all be taught of God. And the Apostle Paul tells us, The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. (Titus 2:11-14).

So that, my Friends, this is an excellent state and condition; the Lord bring you all into it, and bring you to a certain saving knowledge of Christ. This is my desire this day, that you may be Christians indeed, and be Followers of Christ, and obedient to Him who is the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him.