Delivered by JOHN CROOK, ca. 1664.
The Design of Christianity, With Other Books, Epistles, and Manuscripts of the Ancient Faithful Servant of Jesus Christ, John Crook. London: James Phillips, 1791.
This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part 1: The 17th Century.
Dearly beloved of the Lord,
Although many of you are not ignorant of the departure of John Samm out of the body, and for what cause he was in outward bonds, which was for meeting with the servants of the Lord, and what his life and conversations was, together with the ministry committed to him by the Lord, as well as his faithful discharge thereof, is well know unto you: and I might be silent, if this were the only end, to tell you of these things; for is there such a stranger in Israel, among you all, as knows them not? But notwithstanding, I have a testimony in my heart, from the Lord, on this behalf, and do desire it may find acceptance with you, to stir up your pure minds, to be sensible of the Lord's dealings with you in your own particulars; and also of his providences and disposings of those, that are near and dear unto you all, as I know this servant of the Lord John Samm was, unto all that thoroughly knew him, and had inward acquaintance with him.
For his education, it is well known in Bedfordshire where he dwelt: as also his conversation, which was just and honest among men, before he was convinced of the truth; for the sake of which he suffered five or six times imprisonment at several times, for bearing testimonmy to the same truth, which at last he sealed with his life at Northampton gaol, where he first suffered imprisonment, about the year 1656, in which prison he ended his days, as he foretold, saying, Northampton was the first, and shall be the last.
For his life and conversation, I can speak to it, for I was perfectly acquainted with him, bout outwardly as a man, and inwardly as a Christian; as a man, he was endowed with a competent measure of understanding, and did improve it. unto that end, in the managing of the creations, for which it was given him; being discreet, sober, and of good report among men, and his carriage courteous and loving unto all. Much more might be said of this nature, which I omit.
And as a Christian, he was holy and harmless, patient, and meek, valiant and bold, contented earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints, and in which he himself, as a saint, did walk, live, and die: Christianity to him, was not a talk, but a life; for rather than he would deny it, he suffered loss of estate, liberty, and life itself: witness his often imprisonment, and his laying down his life at last for the same cause.
As a minister, he had a dispensation of the gospel committed unto him, in which he was a faithful labourer in the work thereof, with great zeal and fervency of spirit, taking all opportunities and occasions in the wisdom of the Lord, as moved by him, to deliver his message unto all people. Of all estates and degrees, that he might be free from the blood of all men.
His gift was large, his utterance plain to be understood, his words savoury and powerful, not painted with man's wisdom, but as given him of the Lord, being often spoken with great majesty, and in much authority, cutting deep to the wounding of the wicked one in man, and easing of the poor and needy prisoner, being often mindful of the captive daughter of Zion, as the pure seed in deep captivity, that he might reach it help; and when his words began to reach it, he was as one transported with joy; and when it was once raised, and come forth in the prison house, the song of Moses, and of the Lamb, was in his mouth, with much joy, and great gladness of heart, unto the astonishment of the wicked, and filling the hearts of the righteous with great joy, through the overflowings of is cup, and aboundings of God's live in his heart: in which state his face was full of dread, and did speak as one having authority, and not as one of the scribes: besides, the melody of his voice, sometimes sounding out the high praises of the God of Israel; and at other times, the blessed state of the righteous, as the stood in union with the living God, and one with another. Oh! how have I see him make the earth to tremble, and the hearts of the upright to overflow with joy and gladness, through that abundance of life that hath run through his vessel, unto the forcing of water out of the rocks, and tears out of the eyes of the saints, unto great abundance; his hymns and sounds, sometimes were as flames of fire, consuming the drossy matter, and at other times, as swords and spears, cutting down, and thrusting through the tall cedars, and lofty oaks, and wild beasts of the wilderness: which did echo to the true feed in the living babes, and often made sweet melody in their assemblies, when but few words were spoken by him.
Methinks I hear his instrument still sound, Making the hearts of the just to abound With living praises to the God of heaven, Without one jarring string, or voice uneven: Tho' this seems strange to those that dwell below, Yet what I speak, I feel, and well do know; And look for more to be brought forth e'er long, In those that yet are learning the Lamb's song.
AN EXHORTATION UNTO ALL THE RIGHTEOUS, ESPECIALLY THOSE
THAT WERE PARTAKERS OF JOHN SAMM'S MINISTRY
Did Joseph seek a place to week over Benjamin his brother, though yet alive? And can ye, O ye sons and daughters of Joseph, refrain from mourning the loss of a father to many children, whom he had begotten in the Lord? And is there a time when the true ambassador pf peace may weep bitterly? Oh! Can it be more seasonable at any time, than when the Lord takes away the righteous? And hath he not done so to many valiants of late, whose trumpets alarmed the world, and made many dead to arise at the sound thereof? What was the cause, and wherefore the Lord hath done it, becomes every one to make inquiry in their own hearts; and the rather, because there is need, yea, great need, of valiants in this day, the harvest being great, and the labourers few. And why the Lord should lessen the number, seems to challenge a diligent inquiry at every one's hand, to find out the cause thereof: and let me : and for this, let my harp also be turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep: for indeed I will tell you, Oh ye children of my Father! my soul hath deeply considered this matter. And I have this answer, The Lord will do what pleaseth him, with the instruments of his choosing; And who hath been his counselor? He will raise up, and lay aside, at pleasure; for he will have no idols of jealousy in this his lest, lest it come to pass, as when he made the brazen serpent at Nehushtan: neither will he have his work neglected, nor his servant slighted, whom he sends forth in life and power: he would have his people to wait upon him in their own measures, every one as they have received it, in it to keep close unto him, that they all may be taught of him, and have the rejoicings in themselves, and not in another. And the Lord will yet raise up instruments to fulfil his purpose, for his work shall prosper. And by all these ways and dealings of his, he would have his children's heart made loose of all things under the sun with their lamps burning, and lights shining, having the loins of their minds girt about with the girdle of truth; keeping close unto the Lord with a pure heart, that he may yet further make known unto them his mind and will; for although you are now become the sons of God, it doth not yet appear what ye shall be; but this know, the more and oftener ye see him, the like to him ye shall be: and let this be your care, that he may be always before you, that yo may not be moved. And, my dear friends, keep low in you minds, and delight to be often in the deeps with God: Oh watch! I even beseech you all, as dear brethren, that by the Lord's taking away of his servants of late, that have been blessed instruments in his hand, you may come the nearer unto that teacher, and hear his voice daily, which cannot be removed int a corner; that ye may all say, in truth of heart, we are come unto that ministry which cannot be taken away by reason of death: Oh that you may all feel more of this ministry in your assemblies daily, and keep in that seed of life, where you live with the spirits of those just men, whose bodes are removed from you: indeed I feel, I feel the Lord mightily at work in this his day; be but still, and yo will se his wonders as in the days past: let love abound among you, as at the beginning, and be pure and clean in heart, and yo will see, by all God's dealings, what he aims at, which is certainly to raise up his own life in you all, over all the world, unto his own praise, and your joy forever. And all you that are sensible of the taking away of dear J.S. as being often refreshed by his life, and comforted through his ministry: sink ye down, sink ye down, into the fountain, from whence he had all his supplies; and drink ye of the same, blessing the lord, that the fountain is in Christ the promised seed, unto whom feel your daily access: Oh ye beloved of the Lord! And say in your hearts with my soul, O God! it is enough that we have thyself to go unto; and that we can in thy life, enjoy communion with the spirits of the just ones: and lift up your heads over all the world, and be not dismayed with any amazement, either inward or outward, for your Redeemer lives, and your ransomer will not tarry. And you that are full of sorrow, by reason of your temptations and trials, which are many, and that your own strength is so small; I say unto you all, Life up your heads; for you that cannot live without Christ, but feel your daily need of him, he will not leave you, nor forsake you; for thou art a true heir of him, that canst not live without him; to thee hie will come, and will not tarry; and in the mean time, as a good soldier endure the hardship: it is but yet a little while, and he will appear without sin unto thy soul's salvation: for I feel thee, and do travail for thee.
Oh thou well-beloved! How are my cries unto my God for thee, who laments in thy spirit for want of the Lord, and can hardly be persuaded of is love to thee, thou art so uncomely in thine own eyes, and thou lookest upon his dealings, both within, in thy spirit, and without, in the taking away those instruments whom thou lovest, as being in wrath against thee, and for thy sake: well I know thee, and am to testify unto thee, in mine, and thy Father's name, that he doth behold he, and his eyes do pity thee, and hi is waiting to be gracious unto thee, that in an acceptable time he may commend his love unto thee, and thy salvation is sure, Oh thou travailing soul! And I could even put my soul in thy soul's stead, to ease thee a little.
Well, my cries are for thee, and it is prayed that thy faith fail not: so unto God give up, and when thou art sinking, as to the bottom of sorrow, there is a hand to support thee, and thou wilt feel it in the lowest dungeon, and darkest deep. Be thou still, and my god will be thy interpreter, to let thee see, know, and understand thy state and condition; with whom I leave thee, in the bosom where Lazarus dwells safely, and at rest, when Dives is tormented, and hath not one drop of that mercy with which thou art filled, to the praise of our God forever. Amen.