A Sermon Delivered by JOHN COMLY at Green Street Meeting in Philadelphia, May 17, 1827
The Quaker, Vol. II No. 1 (July 1827.)

This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part 3: The 19th Century.

There is a great difference between the gospel dispensation as it respects time, and as it respects a state of mind. We may live in that period of the world, that is generally reckoned under the gospel dispensation, and yet we may be unacquainted with that state of mind in which the gospel dispensation stands or subsists. For until "the mountain of the Lord's house shall become established in the top of the mountains, and be exalted above the hills"--until that state of mind is known, and is attained to, in which there shall be nothing to "hurt nor destroy"--in which "the wold shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid"--in which every thing like the sword shall be beaten into the plowshare, and every thing like the spear into the pruning hook--until this becomes out state and experience, we shall have but a partial claim to living in and under the gospel dispensation.

It is a prophetic view, that in and under this dispensation "they shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid." It is this state of mind that I consider we are called and invited to aspire after, to press after, and to strive after; that we may be adorned with the ornament of a meek and a quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God, as it ever has been and ever will be, of great value.

I have remembered with renewed instruction, the circumstance of one who was invited while sitting under the fig tree; and when the query arise in his mind, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" In the answer of invitation to "come and see," a testimony was borne respecting him, wich I wish may be borne respecting every one of us: "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile."

Now my mind has been led into a little view of that state of mind, wherein there is no guile, no deceit--wherein there is an inquiry raised--wherein there is disposition to seek after the attainment of that which is good, and to become established and settled in the gospel dispensation and settled in that gospel dispensation that breathes "peace on earth, and good will to men;" and from which, alone, can arise those fruits, by which the Heavenly Father is glorified. H have also remembered, that "when Israel was a child, then I loved him:" and the language of the Prophet was--"When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt."--It was in obedience to this call, and it was when "Israel came out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language," that "Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion."

My mind has been drawn, from the history and departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt, to that instruction that is to be individually received, when we come into that state in which the Lord loves us; and into which he calls us to come, out of every thing which stands in opposition to the government of his pure and eternal spirit in the soul of man--when the house of Jacob, the wrestling seed, is brought into a dispensation and state of mind in which they are inquiring--in which they are seeking,--into that state in which them ind is clothed with meekness and quietude, when it retires out of all the storm, the noise, the confusion, and the bustle--that state of mind in which we are disposed to behold Jerusalem a quiet habitation; and, in the view presented, feel a desire to dwell therein, and to abide in that state of quietude. To one that is thus exercised in the nature and the spirit of Jacob, who is, in plain language, transferred into the same disposition of ind, and who in engaged to abide under the cross, and to learn of him, who declared, "I am meek and lowly in heart"--to the mind that is seeking, and is desirous of finding rest to itself, here is a plain path opened. And here, as the mind abides in this quiet habitation, as it is thus called out of Egypt, and as it is disposed to obey the call and come out of Egypt, to take its departure from the land of darkness, fro that state of bondage in which it may have been held, and when there is a willingness in the heart, to obey fully the intimations and invitations, of the spirit of Christ, then the experience is, "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." But it is not until there is a willingness in the heart and in the mind of man, and a desire of attaining that, which, in prophetic vision, is held up as a mark for us to attain to, that we are likely to take out departure and to come out of Egypt, into this child-like state.

"When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, then Judah was his sanctuary." And now if Judah is our sanctuary, we shall know God to be great in Israel. Whatever is the state of mind in which God is known, and in which he reveals himself to the soul of man, this is his sanctuary--this is the state of the soul of man in wich his tabernacle is. "Though the Lord be high, yet hath he regard for the lowly." Though he dwell on high in the holy place, yet "to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."

Now the sacrifices of God, in the gospel dispensation, are a broken, contrite, and humble spirit--it is in this state of the soul of man, that he makes his sanctuary, and he reveals himself in the sanctuary of the soul of man. And I desire to invite out attention to this state, that we may draw near and strive after it--press after it, leaving the things that are behind. Let us leave all tumult, all commotion and agitation, in which we may at any time be involved, and come down, center down, into this quiet habitation, wherein God may reveal himself--that he may dwell in our hearts; and thus we shall find that as we strive, we shall not strive in vain, but that his appearance hath power, and will prevail over all opposition. It is in this state of mind that all these obstructions are removed, as represented in the figurative language of the Psalmist--in this figurative expression, "The sea saw it and fled;" and when all the afflictions of the Israelites may appear to have been witnessed, they have been made to depart, and to flee away; for when the divine presence is revealed to the soul, there is a calm, there is a quietude, there is a settled resting place; therefore the foundation that stands sure, is that which is laid in Zion. And then is this seal, and this impression, made on every mind that comes into this quiet resting place--an assurance that the Lord knows them that are his. I speak for the encouragement of the tossed, and tried, and afflicted; that they may "look unto Zion, the city of our solemnities: and that their eyes may behold Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken." I speak from a little renewed view of that encouragement that is held out to those minds that have been tossed and not comforted; that have been toling and rowing against winds contrary; that they may lift up their heads in hope, to God, and feel an assurance in the power and goodness of him, who is inviting them to "seek peace and pursue it." And that these may be animated to hold on their way, in their labour and exercise of soul, to attain to this quiet habitation, this resting place, where the divine will may be revealed, let them "study to be quiet," for this is an important lesson to all minds in the present day, that we strive to be quiet, and to come under the covering of a meek and quiet spirit. For herein is our proper business manifested to us. And as we dwell in this state of quietude, it is opened to our understanding, what is our duty, and what is the business we are to do. Here every one, who is attending properly to his business, in this state of quietude, will be enabled to do it, so that no one need to be discouraged nor to shrink back from that which is pointed out to him as his business; for however they may feel to doubt like Gideon of old, who could not be satisfied till he tried the fleece both wet and dray; yet when they are willing minded--and the Lord's people are always a willing people--when they are willing minded to go forward and do what they can, there will always be a sweet reward of peace and quietness. Now whether this be a business pointed out to any one individual in his own heart as relates to himself and his own state and condition, or whether it be in relation to a more active service, as it respects others, we must be obedient and faithful to that which is required of each; and if we are faithful in a little, we shall be made rulers over more, and these obstructions and hindrances will be removed, by whatever comparison they may be called, even like this, "The sea saw it and fled; Jordan was driven back. The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs. What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams, and ye little hills like lambs?" I have no doubt from present impressions that there are minds in the present assembly, that will be brought, as they are obedient, to travel in the way as it is opened before their view, and in this state of mind to aspire after and toward the mark, of the attainment of the gospel state, and that they will have in the lines of their experience, to refer to feelings not very different from these, relative to the departure of all that once appeared as obstacles or hindrances in the way of the Lord's people. I speak with the view that there may be encouragement renewedly administered. There are some deeply exercised and tried minds in the present assembly, with whom I have felt my spirit dipped into the sympathy of a brother in travail--that they may be a little encouraged to lift up their heads in hope, and to draw nigh in spirit, and know that there is an abiding in the sanctuary, where the Lord is known; and may we all know his power revealed in us, and his name become great in Israel. Oh! that you may dwell here my dear friends, and when your souls are encircled as in his pavilion, as in the secret of his tabernacle. That he may hide you, and that in his own due time, he may set the feet of each of your minds as on a rock, and establish your goings, that you may know more of the new song put into your mouths, even praises unto our God.