A Sermon Delivered by JOHN GURNEY at Gracechurch-Street Meeting, 1773, Taken Down by Thomas Crowley.
Sermons Preached by Thomas Story, and John Gurney, in the Meetings of the People Called Quakers. London: NP, 1785.

This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part 2: The 18th Century.

"Godliness is profitable to all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." I took an opportunity this morning to represent unto you the consequences thereof, so far as time and opportunity would admit. I had no thought of speaking on the fame subject again until after I came here to my seat, but finding The same now to dwell on my mind, I shall crave the audience of this assembly, while I prosecute the subject a little farther: I think I then delivered myself so clear and intelligibly to you, that there will be no occasion to repeat much thereof at this time. Well, godliness is profitable, and before I proceed I shall just mention what I mean by the term godliness; and first I observe, it is not an assent or consent to the opinion of all, or either of the sects or denominations in the Christian world. That is not it. Well then, what is it? Some may say: I will tell you--it is comprised in this tingle word, holiness. "Be ye holy," (says the prophet) and personating God," for I think he speaks in the singular number, and says, "for I the Lord your God am holy;" so that there is a necessity of being holy, if we would come to experience what godliness is. I remember the prophet Isaiah, when he had been speaking to the Jews concerning those things which they ought to believe; he comes to this point, and fays, "there is an highway which the Lord God has calk up for his redeemed and ransomed to walk in:" The name thereof is Holiness, in which the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err, and every one that walks therein, has this character stamped upon him. Now that man, wherever he lives, or among what people, or sect of religion soever he converseth, that is just and honest, and walketh uprightly before God, that man is properly a holy man. Now from what has been laid, you may easily draw this consequence, that godliness and holiness are synonymous terms. I grant it, they are so; a man cannot be godly without being holy, neither holy without being godly. Having made these observations, I shall now pursue: godliness is profitable to all things. It is that which is of the greatest benefit to mankind; to demonstrate which, I would first observe, that is the most beneficial to mankind, which most conduceth to their happiness both here and in the world to come. This is a proposition I am persuaded no rational man or woman will deny. Next I would observe what happiness is, and wherein it doth consist, which is in these four things; it is a good state of health; secondly, a good reputation; thirdly, a sufficient competency wherewith to live in the world comfortably; fourthly, which is beyond all the rest, peace and tranquility of mind. These four things complete man's happiness here; and to all there good ends godliness is conducive, from which I infer, godliness is of the greatest benefit to mankind; and now I shall explain how it conduceth to there desirable ends, and ungodliness to directly the contrary. First, it is a great happiness to enjoy health, but there has been many born with a good and strong constitution, who by ungodliness and intemperance have destroyed it, and have been reduced to the most miserable and pitiful condition, I have known many in the course of my acquaintance, or in the course of my observation, that have been instances hereof: whereas the godly man, altho' he may be of weak constitution, subject to ailures and illness, yet by temperance and prudent carefulness he has enjoyed himself comfortably through this world. Well, it is a happiness or satisfaction to have a good reputation; but the ungodly man by his corrupt, lewd, vicious and profligate living, is deprived of this advantage, and becomes the shame, and, as it were, the offscouring of the people; they are had in contempt and despised; whereas the godly man he is had in good repute, is well spoken of, and becomes honourable amongst his acquaintance, and some have been raised up and concerned to be teachers among the people in a more universal manner. The ungodly man, altho' he may have had a great deal of the wealth of this world, yet by intemperance and profuseness in vicious practices, has been reduced to want, to mere beggary and indigency.

This has often been seen; but godly men, by honest and just dealings, have sometimes acquired a great deal of the wealth of this world; they have become great men in their time, have had a sufficient competency, and enjoyed it with comfort; but some may say wicked men may and do acquire riches likewise as much as the godly. I allow it, they may so; but altho' they may have got never to much riches, and live in never so much splendor, yet at times when they come to reflect on their past vicious conduct and fraudulent practices, then their conscience smites them, and those have trouble and anguish of mind, so that they do not nor can not enjoy their riches so as to be happy therein. The poor, just, upright, godly man, though he may live in a cottage, or may live in obscurity, yet he has that which is beyond all the other enjoyments, peace and tranquility of mind, that peace which passeth the understanding, and is infinitely joyous to the soul; it is so, the world can neither give, nor deprive of this great happiness: but the ungodly man, altho' he lives in all the pomp and glory of this world, yet he wants virtue, and this peace; and when he comes to serious thought will be filled with sorrow and remorse; then the worm gnaweth, and the sting of his conscience wounds him, and altho' oftentimes by hardness of heart, and indulging his lustful desires, he may shut it out and soar above it; though, as many do, he may run to the tavern, and drink till overcome with wine, so as it were to wash away sorrow; yet the greatest man in the world can never totally suppress it; it will rise up again. The time may come, when perhaps he may be on the brink of eternity; then God will meet with him, and will, as I may say, revive his witness in his conscience, which will bring him into bitterness and misery, too grievous to be borne, as the wife man faith, "The infirmities of the body man may sustain, but a wounded spirit who can bear?" This is the effect of ungodliness and unholiness, so that in all things wherein happiness doth consist, it plainly appeareth that godliness and holiness are of the greatest benefit to mankind, as it is conducive thereunto: and on the contrary hand, vice versa, ungodliness and unholiness, that which is directly the contrary; wherefore now I intreat and exhort you to walk circumspect, so that you may come up in a holy, godly life and conversation, especially the young and rising generation. Take the advice of the wife man, and remember your Creator now in the days of your youth before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, when they shall say they have no pleasure in them. When I sat in this meeting I looked upon you with a tender eye and compassion, and my heart was filled with love towards the youth, the young men and young women, that are many of you the offspring of godly parents, and I thought what a great pity it would be that any of you should miss the great benefit and advantage that there is in godliness; then let me beseech you look into yourselves, and see that ye are coming up in this life of godliness. A bare profession or name of religion will not do, neither a good education, nor the example of pious parents; these barely will not do; but you must come to the experimental knowledge of practical godliness in and for yourselves. That is what I wish for you, you, so that you may live in the fear and favour of God, and grow and increase in piety and good works, and then may ye come to be teachers, and good examples to others, and as it were the lights of the world. A city set upon a hill cannot be laid, "Wherefore let your lights so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."-If this be your concern, so that you may experience this life of godliness and holiness, then shall you enjoy the greatest felicity that can be attained in this life, being the assurance of God's love and mercy to your souls, and the influence of his divine spirit to direct, and also to encourage and preserve you, so as ye may hold out to the end; that when there tabernacles of clay shall be dissolved, ye may inherit mansions in the eternal kingdom of divine rest and glory.--And now having expressed there things which I had upon my mind, with a great deal more, I leave them to your serious consideration, desiring they may rest upon your minds with due weight. I recommend you to God, as the apostle Paul did one of the primitive churches when he was about to depart; and they bore him company on his way, he takes his leave of them, and says, "To God I leave you, and to the word of his grace, that is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among the sanctified." To this I leave you, desiring that you may every one of you be experiencers thereof.