A Sermon Delivered by TOWNSEND HAWKSHURST, at Darby, November 15, 1826.
The Quaker, Vol. II No. 2 (August, 1827.)
This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part 3: The 19th Century.
Now my desire hath been, that we may all come to realize and experience these great truths, while he have time and opportunity; and that we may be brought to be what the Lord our God would have us to be. But in order to do this we must draw nigh in spirit; we must "cease to do evil, learn to do well," for it is sin and iniquity that hide the face of God from us. Hence we are called on to come away from every thing that may have a tendency to draw our minds into a dependence on any thing external, or on things of a temporary nature, and to come down in humility and self-abasement, to lie low in the valley of humiliation. Because it is the Lord, and the Lord alone that is able to raise our drooping spirits, and to enable us to prefer his blessed influence to any things that we can do ourselves, or that nay of our fellow creatures can do for us. But we must be humbled and brought low; every exalted imagination must be brought down as into the obedience of Christ. We must be brought into the same humility and abasement that our great pattern was found in; for in order to be true Christians we must be Christ-like; holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners. And if it be our concern and desire to be thus cleansed and purified from "dross, tin, and reprobate silver," we must give up ourselves, soul, body and spirit into the hands of God our Creator, and keep nothing back; for this is the example that Jesus Christ set us, that we might follow his steps. He gave up body, soul and spirit into submission to the turning and overturning of Divine power, in order that a perfect and glorious example might be portrayed to the children of men.
Now as we are brought to resign all up unto God, it will be an offering acceptable; but there is nothing else that will be taken in lieu of the whole heart. "Son, give me thy heart--daughter, give me thy heart." But when the heart is given up, all must be given up. Now this is the propitiatory sacrifice whereinto we are all to make an entry; it is a surrender by which we are to come up to the glorious example of our great pattern. Now this resignation is necessary, in order that our spirits may become purified and prepared to be recipients for the Holy Spirit to dwell in, for it will not dwell in a defiled temple; they must be "purified as gold and silver." And the prophet must have had a foresight of this, when he cried out, "Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven." And again--"Who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." Now an offering in righteousness must be an offering of the whole; because it is God's right to rule and reign in the hearts of men.
Every thing that we have, that is good, is from God; and in occupying these talents, every power and ability ought to be occupied and employed to the honour of God our Creator. Hence we must wait in humility and self-abasement, whereby we may be enabled to come up in the blessed example of our great pattern. And when this is the case, I am fully persuaded that the great work of reformation will advance and go on, and we shall become as "a city set on a hill which cannot be easily hid," and we can then glorify the Heavenly Father in the day of his visitation.
Now the design of a gospel minister is to turn the minds of the people to the light of Christ within; and when he has done this, he has done all that he can do; for "no man can save his brother, nor give to God a ransom for his soul."
My desire is, that all may turn to the eternal substance, "which is Christ in you the hope of Glory," and which is "the same yesterday, today, and forever"--that Christ that followed Israel through the Red Sea. We read that :they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ." Now this eternal light, this Christ which is the power and wisdom of God, is the light "whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts;" that is, till you feel more strength, that you may make a little advance farther. May we then be advancing and growing in grace, and in a saving knowledge of Christ. May we come under that governing influence by which Jesus Christ was enabled to walk, and by which we may be enabled to come up in his blessed example, to be "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." But this is to be brought about on this side of the grave; for as a tree falleth there is shall lie. "If the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth there is shall be;" and as death leaves us, so will judgment find us.
My desire is, that we may be concerned to gather home to this light, the light which illuminated the Gentiles; for it is the same now that it ever was. For our gracious Creator is as willing now as he ever was, to manifest his will unto us. Therefore my desire is, that we might try ourselves, and prove ourselves: "Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you except ye be reprobates?" Now this term is variously designated in the doctrines of scripture, but it is one and the same thing--Christ is not divided, there is but "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." And there never was but one true religion in the world, and that consists in doing the will of God. And we all know as rational beings, that to do his will we must know his will; and hence the necessity, when convened together, that we should gather inward and wait upon God, in the secret of our own hearts; and if we apply here, we shall find him; for is not far from us, for in him we live, and move, and have our being. Therefore, consider him not at a great distance; and he is calling on us to come, taste and see that the Lord is good, We need not say, "who shall ascend into heaven" to bring this principle down from above, or who shall descend int the deep to bring it up; for "the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith which we preach." Now it is always the same, and therefore the object and design of the scriptures are, to turn the human family to this internal principle of light within, and that is doing all that the scriptures can do. And hence the necessity of our being individually concerned to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. For God, in his infinite goodness, waiteth long to be gracious to us, and to gather us into his heavenly enclosure, and to make us joyful in his house of prayer, "for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people." "For we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered," nor written. What then will become of formal sermons, and formal preaching? They are inconsistent and contrary to the excellency of the gospel dispensation, "for the prophecy came not in old times by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." And we have the same privilege, and should take heed to the same power of God, or Christ, which dwells in every Christian in a greater of less degree, and by which they may come to be a help to each other, and mighty instruments in the hands of God. Blessed be the name of the Lord, who is calling sons from afar, and daughters from the ends of the earth; and may they "sit every man under his vine, and under his fig tree, and have none to make them afraid."
My dear friends and fellow mortals, rally to the standard of truth, and keeping yourselves in humility and abasement, put your trust in God, for in him is everlasting strength.