A Sermon and Prayer Delivered by GEORGE DILLWYN, in an Evening Meeting at the High Street Meetinghouse, Philadelphia, 26th of 5th Month, 1793.
Friends' Intelligencer, Vol. 31, No. 36 (10th Month 31, 1874,) pages 565-567.
This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part 2: The 18th Century.
Early in this meeting a pleasant prospect was presented to the view of my mind, which awakened
earnest desires that it might be a state into which the minds of many present might be gathered,
but I did not know that I should express it, and it disappeared. But as I have sought (I hope with
many present) to keep to my proper business through inward and patient travail of spirit, now, in
the latter part of this meeting, the thing revived a little, and I began to query, am I to
communicate it or let it pass? I desired, if it was not right that I should speak, I might be helped to
refrain, for sometimes we have our reward for refraining while our minds are in doubt.
Whatsoever is not of faith is sin; faith is the gift of God, and by it we are enabled to make straight
steps, whereby our going Can be established, and we become promotive of the Lord's honor, and
of our own advancement in the way of righteousness and peace. I do wish that I may increase in
that fear by which, under the Divine blessing, the heart is kept clean. I remember that the Master
had given a direction to those servants He was pleased to separate from the world to His service,
where to wait to be endued with power from on high, where to receive something like special
direction; when the Holy Ghost should come upon them, then, they were to testify of Him. Now
this is what I have for; I had this subject presented to my mind and an earnest desire was
awakened that the state I had a prospect of might be that of many individuals present; and yet
whether to communicate it or not was the question. How was it to be determined? Only by the
Holy Ghost coming upon me, as it did upon the chosen, who then testified of Him, beginning at
Jerusalem and passing through Judea and Samaria, even unto the uttermost parts of the earth. I
know, dear friends, it is not him who commendeth himself that is approved of God; I know He
will stop the mouth of all boasters. These thoughts have unexpectedly occurred to my mind, and
having freely received them, I desire freely to impart them, that they may convey instruction to
some sincere ones present. Now what was presented to the view of my mind was the blessedness
of dwelling together in unity, and the desire was awakened that we might all be brought into that
state. I do not mean our coming together, perhaps at seasons most convenient to ourselves, and
sitting down in outward quiet, seeming to be at unity; but I mean that unity of the spirit which is
the only sure bond of peace. The unity of the spirit? some may say, why this is recommending to
us what is not within our reach, for however much we may desire it at times in these our
meetings, yet thou must know it is not at our command. This is very true; but, if we possess a
contrary spirit, in these seasons of' retirement, the good Remembrancer will give us a sight and
sense thereof. Are we thus favored? Are we willing to lay down the life of enmity and to die to
that nature which is opposed to the Christian religion? If we are not, wherein do we differ from
those who destroy one another in the vain belief they are doing God good service. Depend upon
it, those who are in this condition are not subjects of the Gospel dispensation, but belong to that
of the olden time, when an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, was the rule, as our dear Lord
told his disciples and followers. Oh, we ought to try ourselves, whether we indeed bless them that
curse us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, for this is the touchstone of Christianity. It is
by dying to the emotions of anger and revenge that we commend ourselves to His merciful
regards who died to save His persecutors, and, in the moment of His greatest exercise, cried,
"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." When we lay down this life of corruption
and self-will, we experience the assurance of a better life; we will be translated out of the kingdom
of Satan into the marvelous kingdom of the dear Son of God, and then each one of us can say, "I
have passed from death unto life, because I love the, brethren." This is the badge of discipleship.
By this all men shall know that we are the disciples of Christ.
It is here that I have desired many might be gathered. Oh, how lovely would our sitting down
before the Lord be, even in the minds of strangers, who would be ready to exclaim in the language
of the kingly prophet, "Behold, how good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell
together in unity. It is like the precious ointment poured upon the head, that ran down on the
beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garment. As the dew of Heaven,
and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion, for there the Lord commanded the
blessing, even life, forevermore." Oh, beloved friends, press after this state of mind, believe in it,
for it is all of heaven we can have this aide of the grave. True it is, that, when under a sense of our
own weakness, we labor after a resignation of our own wills to the Lord's holy will, and patiently
wait upon Him, He will draw nigh to us in His own time, which we cannot hasten. He will work in
us, by the revelation of His living power in our souls, to will and to do of His own good pleasure.
He that should come, will come, and when he cometh his reward is with him, and his work before
him. He will lead us along gently in that true and living way, cast up for His ransomed and
redeemed to walk in, wherein they will grow from strength to strength, until at last they shall
appear before Him in Zion, with songs of joy in their mouths, and everlasting gladness on their
heads. Now, therefore, dear friends, to the word of His grace nigh in the heart, I commend you
with my own soul, that we may thereby be built up and made fit for an inheritance among them
which are sanctified, and in it (although we may be far distant one from another in body), in our
solemn approaches before the Lord, we shall know what. it is to be gathered together in His
name, and under the sweet uniting influences of His Spirit, have fellowship with one another, as
we walk together in that way which leads to His eternal kingdom. Farewell, dear friends.
Be near, we humbly pray Thee, to Thy visited and exercised children, whom, by the smiles of Thy
love, Thou hast allured into the wilderness, and who, in the integrity of their minds, have been
endeavoring to follow Thee wherever Thou leadest them. O Lord! sustain such, we beseech Thee,
by Thy neverfailing arm of power; suffer them not to cast away their confidence; stay their minds
in resignation to Thy will, and enable them to maintain that patient, persevering watch which
Thou hast pronounced to be blessed, and if it be consistent with Thy holy will, O cut short the
work of righteousness for Thine elect seeds' sake! Say Thou unto the blind, Go forth; and to those
who sit in darkness, Show yourselves, so that, under a sense of Thy gracious dealings with them,
the may have to magnify Thy excellent name upon the banks of deliverance. And, O Father! we
entreat of Thee, that Thou lengthen out the day of Thy merciful forbearance unto those who are
yet estranged from Thee. As Thou hast dealt with us we beseech Thee, Heavenly Father, to deal
with them: meet them as in a narrow place: arrest them by the convictions of Thy grace: constrain
them to feel their helpless condition, so that they may cry unto Thee, who hast promised that for
the crying of the poor, and for the sighing of the needy, Thou wouldst arise.
Thou, O Lord, hast given a remnant to see that when, by Thy Spirit, Thou art pleased to arise in
their hearts, Thine enemies are scattered and we are enabled to step after Thee in the way Thou
hast appointed for us; that so, Father, thousands and tens of thousands who are wandering as
sheep without a shepherd may be gathered unto Thee, the great Shepherd and bishop of souls,
and be made instruments in Thy holy hand for bringing sons from afar, and daughters from the
ends of the earth, under the subjection of Thy righteous and peaceable kingdom, that so the work
Thou hast begun in the earth may b~ carried on, and in Thy own time perfected, to the praise of
Thy adorable name.
And, blessed Father, we entreat of Thee to visit the abodes of sorrow and sickness. Raise Thou
the afflicted out of the dust. Comfort Thou the mourners in Zion. Give unto them beauty for
ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may
yet put on their beautiful garments of praise unto Thee, the immortal King.
And do Thou, O Father, visit the minds of Thy children's children who may yet wander about in
the paths of vanity, forgetting Thee. Oh, touch the hearts of all with the finger of Thy love; stain
the beauty and glory of this world more and more in our view; draw us into retirement before
Thee, that Thou mayst unveil the transcendent glories of Thy everlasting kingdom in our view,
that, by awakening conviction in our hearts and drawing us by love, we may run after Thee, and
become experimental witnesses that whatsoever we may surrender for Thy name's sake, whether
father or mother, wife or children, we shall receive an hundredfold even in this life, and in that
which is to come life everlasting.
Thus we pray Thee do for us, O Lord God, for we have no might of our own, that so from time
to throughout all ages Thine own work may praise Thee; and when we have done with earth, may
we all be favored with an admittance into Thine abiding perpetual habitation, where the morning
stars sing together, and all the sons of God shout for joy.