A Sermon and Prayer Delivered by JOSEPH JOHN GURNEY At A Public Meeting At The Friends' Meeting House, Liverpool, 5th month 13th, 1832.
Sermons and Prayers, Delivered by Joseph John Gurney, In The Friends Meeting House, Liverpool, 1832. Second Edition. Liverpool: Thomas Hodgson; London: Whittaker, Treacher, & Co., 1832., pages 38-53 (sermon), 70-72 (prayer.)

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

The Sermon:

"Thus saith the Lord who formed thee, O! Jacob; who made thee, O! Israel; fear not, my servant Jacob, and thou Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. I will pour water on him that is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing on thine offspring; and they shall grow up as the grass, as the willows by the watercourses: and one shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself with the name of Israel; for I am the Lord thy God, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."

And I believe, friends, that there is an encouraging language of this description to be addressed, even in the present day, to the Israel of God; to that Jeshurun whom he hath chosen; and I trust we have good ground for applying the promise, made to ancient Israel, to the church of the living God in all ages; for we are taught, by the Apostle Paul, that true believers in our Lord Jesus Christ are the children of Abraham by faith: and we know that the habitation of the church of God is frequently described as being Zion; the New Jerusalem; the city of the living God: and I wish we may all be inhabitants of this city, even in the present life; for when we have turned our backs on an evil world, and have chosen the Lord for our portion-when we have been delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of the dear Son of God, then are we, even here, inhabitants of Zion;--we are come to the New Jerusalem;--we are Israelites indeed ;and the Christian privileges which we are permitted to enjoy, on this side the silent grave, are the token and pledge of that perfect and eternal joy which awaits the children of God in the heavenly Jerusalem; where saints and angels do for ever surround the throne of God, and sing his praise, saying, Halleluia, Halleluia, for thou, O Lord God omnipotent, reignest.

And the word Jeshurun, friends, peculiarly denotes what ought to be the character of those who profess that they are the Israelites of God; for my dear friends, it may be said, that pr6ression of religion is fashionable in the present day: and there are many, who, even on very superficial grounds, are ready to say, I am the Lord's, and to name themselves with the name of Jacob, and to subscribe with their hands unto the Lord, and to surname themselves with the name of Israel: but I hope, friends, that you are brought to that true repentance towards God,--many of you,--and that living abiding faith in Jesus Christ, by which you should come to have claim to the name Jeshurun, (which means the upright one, the true Israel of God,) which ever was, and ever will be marked by the character of uprightness; and the language will go forth to the Lord's servants, "Fear not, O Jacob my servant, and thou Jeshurnn, whom I have chosen;" and although great may be the dismay of the children of this world,--although trouble and sorrow and confusion, at times, may be their portion, yet the language goes forth to the Jeshurun of God, Fear not thou, whom I have chosen."

And I believe friends, that Jeshurun of God, (the true Israel) consists of all those, of every name, who truly fear God and keep his commandments; those who come to experience the living, saving power of redeeming love, and are brought forth from the spots of the flesh, from the bondage of the world, and from the chains of Satan, to serve the Lord their God in newness of life; and they come to this experience, that if any man is in Christ, it is a new creation; "old things are passed away, behold all things are become new;" "instead of the brier comes up the fir-tree, and instead of the thorn comes up the myrtle-tree, and it is to the Lord for a name, and for an everlasting sign, which shall not be cut off." And I do believe that the day is coming, when we shall know more of this blessed change; when "the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; when it shall rejoice abundantly, and blossom as the sweet rose of Sharon."

For I believe, my beloved friends, there are many in the present day, who are seeking after truth, and the state of their minds may be compared to the thirsty wilderness, as it v/ere, longing for the showers of water; and to them is the promise, "I will pour water on them that are thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon their seed, and my blessing on their offspring;" and again, saith the Lord, "as the stars of the heavens cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the seed of David, my servant, and the Levites who minister unto me; for they shall spring up as the grass, and as the willows by the water-courses.' And I have no doubt there are many, even in this assembly, who are athirst after God; "as the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God; my soul is athirst for God, for the living God; as a thirsty land wherein no water is." And, my beloved friends, open your hearts wide, for the Lord is graciously disposed to accomplish his own promise, and to pour water on them that are thirsty, and floods on the dry ground. And what is this water, friends? what is this life giving principle? what is this reviving, this refreshing influence, by which the very soul of the human heart will be made to blossom like the rose, and bring forth abundance of sweet and wholesome fruit ? Most assuredly it is not the wisdom of man,--it is not the learning of man,--it is not the opinions of man,--it is not any system of man's procuring or inventing. No, it is from God, my friends; ! will pour water on him that is thirsty; I will pour floods on the dry ground; it is the influence of God's holy Spirit, by which alone we are brought out of darkness into light, and experience the glory of 'this new creation; and I believe, my clear friends, the time is coming, when those who are '.in search for that which can truly satisfy the soul, will abstain from their dependence on the words and works of man, and from the arm of flesh under every form, and come and sit under the immediate teaching of Christ, their Redeemer; when a language will be proclaimed like unto this, Let all flesh keep silence before the Lord, for he is raised up out &his holy habitation. The willing and the running of man must be subdued ;--the untutored soul of the creature, not according to knowledge, must be brought low;--the systems of man's forming must be broken down ;--and many a pleasant picture marred and stained in our view by the force of truth, by the Lord's own power, in the day of his mighty power; for the day of the Lord's power shall be on all that is proud and lofty and on all that is high and lifted up, and it shall be brought low; and not only will man know the earth to be shaken, but the heavens also; not only temporal things, which are but for a moment, and will soon pass away, but even their religious systems, and the methods which they have devised for themselves, and the buildings which they have constructed in their own wisdom and strength, the spiritual building: the day of the Lord's power will be more and more on whatsoever is not of God, in the earth and in the heavens, and all will be shaken; and pure immortal troth will arise in its native dignity, and spread on every side; and the ocean of light, life, and love will overflow the ocean of darkness and death; and I do believe that it will be a glorious day, and one which must be brought about, not by the power of man,--not by his inventions,--much less by his restless and tumultuous desires,--but by the progress of truth in the minds and -in the conduct of believers in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Friends, "our weapons are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, bringing down every high thought and imagination into captivity go the obedience of Christ." And what are these weapons, my brethren? they are the weapons of truth, of charity, of meekness, of love; these are our weapons, and God grant that we may wield no other weapons. But let us go forth into a world of sin and wickedness, clothed in the Christian armour, wearing the breast-plate of righteousness, and the shield of faith, and our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and having on for a helmet the hope of salvation, and having a two-edged sword in our hands. O! how sharp and destructive a sword is the word of God; for even the word as it is outwardly preached, and much more so in its inward operation, pierces even to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrow, of the soul and spirit, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Now, my beloved friends, you who are thirsting after God,--you who are no longer satisfied to be fed with husks,--you who are hungering after the bread of life,--you who want to come under a feeling of the power of Almighty love,--to you the language is addressed;" Fear not, Jacob, my servant, or thou Jeshurun whom I have chosen; for I will pour water on him that is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground." Come then, my brethren, and no longer place your dependence on the teaching of man, but come under the teaching of Christ; for the promise went forth in days of old to the church, in her affliction. What was her promise? "O! thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires; and I will make thy windows with agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones; and all thy children shall be taught of the Lord: and great shall be the peace of thy children." Mark the words, my brethren; "all thy children shall be taught of the Lord." Now, friends, how does the Lord teach us? He hath many ways of teaching us, blessed be his holy name: he has bestowed upon us the volume of scripture, "which is able to make us wise unto salvation, by faith which is in Jesus Christ." And I delight in believing, that whatsoever name we may bear we can all unite in the simple acknowledgment that "all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." And it is, my dear friends, a most blessed privilege that we may stand together on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. And I beseech you, my friends, not to neglect the perusal of Scripture daily, in the privacy of your closets, and also in your family circles, whatever name you may bear; and wait upon the Lord your God, that gave the scriptures forth; wait upon him, friends, "who has the key of David; who openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth." And He, as you wait upon him, will impress the scriptures on your hearts, and unfold them to your understandings; and there is a fund, a deep fund of wisdom in them, which no man can fathom to the bottom; but the Holy Spirit, who gave them forth, can make them known to the honest enquirer, and can apply them to his very heart for practical purposes; for the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children. And for what purpose, friends ? That we may do all the words of this law. Now in the diligent use of the holy scriptures, with prayer and supplication, we receive more and more of the influence of that Holy Spirit, by which we may be enabled to understand them aright, to apply, them to our practice, and truly to walk in the way of holiness; but, friends~ it must be the power of God, it must be the immediate influence of that Spirit, which can alone do the work for us. And I beseech you, friends, as you value your immortal souls, to pray for the Holy Spirit, that your thirsty spirits may be refreshed, and that the Comforter may take of the things of Christ, and anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and no lie;" for, "as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."

Now I believe, friends, that the more we search the holy scriptures, in an humble, devout spirit, and the more we are brought under the guidance and government of the Lord's anointing, the more we shall arrive at a holy unanimity in the things of God. We shall not lay the stress of our minds on those forms or practices which are of man's invention; but the stress of our minds will rest on pure, immortal, essential, soul-saving truth: and I long that the blessed day may be hastened, when we may be weaned from all our dependence on the systems of man, and of all his pride, and of all his prejudice; and when we may receive pure truth in all its simplicity, in its native power, and come every one of us under the guidance and government of the Lord's anointing, the more we shall arrive at a holy unanimity in the things of God. We shall not lay the stress of our minds on those forms or practices which are of man's invention; but the stress of our minds will rest on pure, immortal, essential, soul-saving truth: and I long that the blessed day may be hastened, when we may be weaned from all our dependence on the systems of man, and of all his pride, and of all his prejudice; and when we may receive pure truth in all its simplicity, in its native power, and come every one of us under its immediate government and divine influence: and then we shall be a glorious company indeed, friends; and though we may be of different names, we shall be one in Christ Jesus, and know of a truth that there is "one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called by one hope of our calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all," from whom, and through whom, and unto whom are all things; blessed be his glorious name for ever.

And then, friends, we shall find that it is the very nature of this pure leaven to spread; it will abound more and more on every side; and he who can turn the very stones of the street into children of Abraham, will cause true Israelites to spring up as the grass, and as the willows by the water-courses. Why is not Christianity more diffusive, friends, in its operation? because the leaven is not pure enough, and because it is so mixed up with human inventions and human systems. Leave these things, and come to the pure truth, in its original and primitive power,--soul saving, immortal truth; and come under the very power of it, and not the form only; why, our religion would be diffusive, and spread on every side, and great would be our peace and joy in the Lord; and then, not only in profession, but in reality, one would say, "I am the Lord's, and another would name himself with the name of Jacob, and another would subscribe with his hand to the Lord, and surname himself with the name of Israel."

My beloved friends, there is but one foundation, and that is Christ crucified; "we preach Christ crucified; to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." And there is but one right superstructure; and that is the work of God's Spirit in the heart of man, producing a holy life and conversation, worthy of our high vocation. And those who come under this influence will be taught to worship God, who is a Spirit, in spirit and in truth; and the more they know of this influence, the less will they place their dependence on the wisdom and learning of man, even in the exercise of the Christian ministry; but they will find that the ministry of the gospel of Christ is as free as the air that we breathe; and the anointing in the universal church, under the immediate influence of the Lord's re-anointing, which, when it is poured forth, no man can stay rightly, and when it is withheld, no man can command. And I wish that all of every name, in the exercise of the Christian ministry, will place more and more their dependence on the scriptures of truth, and apply these scriptures to the spiritual wants of our hearers. We want more faith in our God, friends; we want more faith in the Holy head of the church, who is disposed to provide for all our need, and will minister to his church universal according to its necessities; we want to come under the liberty of the Spirit; for that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit; and whatsoever in our religious services is the fruit of man's carnal mind, doth not glorify God; but whatsoever is born of the Spirit, doth glorify God; it comes from God.

Let no man suppose that we would speak lightly of learning, knowledge, information. No! on the contrary, the servants of God, and his children of every name, are bound in conscience, are bound to provide themselves with knowledge of all things useful and honourable, as far as lies in their power; that the instrument may be enlarged and improved for their Master's use. For the exercise of their gifts in the ministry of the gospel, they must not depend on their own learning, but they must present their minds a living sacrifice unto their God, that, under the influence of his Holy Spirit, they may go forth in the work as good scribes, bringing forth from their treasury things new and old. And then, friends, we shall know more of a native power,--more of a spreading, diffusive influence, in the christianity of those who now profess it; and many will rally round the standard of Jesse's immortal Son; and the barren wilderness of this world shall blossom as the rose of Sharon.

O! my beloved friends, would to God that all who name the name of Jesus would learn the lesson of silence; to be brought into true stillness before God; to know the creature, with all his imaginations, and all his inventions, to be reduced as into nothing; that God may arise, and perform his own work, and qualify his servants for the labours of love, that their offerings may be acceptable and pure. And the Lord doth qualify his servants for their work, by bringing them into secret suffering; they are brought into deep exercise of mind, for the welfare of the cause; they fill up that-which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, for the body's sake, which is the church: and this appears to be described, in the language of an ancient prophecy; "The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple; and who can 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, "sons of Levi" are those who were peculiarly appointed to the service of the temple, to offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. And I hope the day is coming, when the Lord will pour forth of his Spirit on all flesh, and when our sons and our daughters shall prophesy, when on his servants and on his handmaids he will pour forth of his Spirit, and they shall proclaim the glad tidings of salvation, under the immediate influence of that Spirit, making a diligent use of those materials which are contained in the holy scriptures, which were put forth by God himself, and are his glorious gift.

Now, my beloved friends, may you all come more and more under the power of God; for the kingdom of God is rot in word, but in power; and you must be saved not by word, but by power. Come, I beseech you, as poor contrite sinners in the sight of God, and wash your garments from every stain in the blood of the Lamb, which was shed for all men for the remission of sins And no longer depend on your own wisdom, or on the wisdom of your fellow men, in the things of religion; but come for yourselves, under the immediate influence of the Holy Ghost, that you may be baptized with the Holy Ghost; may be raised up, by a power better than your own, unto newness of life, and bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, which are joy, peace, long-suffering, faith, meekness, temperance. "Put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; shake thyself from the dust: arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought, and ye shall be redeemed without money and without price."

There is nothing in the world, there is nothing under heaven, friends, so powerful and so pure as genuine, primitive, unmixed, unadulterated christianity. And O that we might have it pure, friends; O that we might have it in its primitive, original force. O that we might divest it from the forms and systems and inventions of man, and become the living servants of that holy Lord, in whom dwelleth all virtue, and all righteousness, and all the beauty of holiness in its highest perfection. Do you understand it, friends? let the great pattern be your standard, and "put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and fulfil not the desires of the flesh:" make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof: put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ: see that ye wear the robe of his righteousness; for if ye go to the supper of the great king without the wedding garment, ye shall be "bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." And what is this wedding garment ? it is the robe of a Saviour's righteousness. But not only so; we are justified by faith in the blood of Christ, but we must also be invested with his character; and would to God that the Israel, the professing Israel of God, all who call themselves by the name of Jacob, the spiritual Jacob, all who surname themselves with the name of Israel, would come home to the very centre and spring of truth; and under the influence, the immediate influence and government of God's Holy Spirit, put on Christ Jesus, and conform themselves to that perfect model: and then, friends, truth,--pure, unsullied, unchangeable truth,--would spread rapidly on every side, and the blessed day would be hastened, when the whole world would be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, as the waters cover the mighty deep.

The Prayer:

Almighty and everlasting God, thou Creator and Ruler of the universe, we are bowed before thee in reverent humiliation, gratitude, and praise; we deem it our highest privilege to bow before thee and adore thy Majesty and thy power; for "what is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou visitest him?" O Lord God, we confess that we are worms of the earth, unworthy of the very least of thy mercies; we confess, O glorious Father, that we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, and are no more worthy to be called thy children; and that unto us belongs nothing but shame and confusion of face. But we bless and hallow thee, O thou everlasting Jehovah, for the unspeakable gift of everlasting life, through thy beloved Son, our only Saviour; and under a deep feeling of our vileness we can say, (thou knowest) a Saviour, or I die; a Redeemer, or I perish. Grant us, we pray thee, the precious gift of a lively faith, whereby we may be enabled to wash our garments, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb; and grant, O Lord, that we may all be clothed in the beautiful white robe of our Savior's righteousness; so white as no fuller on earth can whiten it. And, O thou most holy, we pray thee to pour water on them that are thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; to pour thy spirit on the seed of Jacob, and thy blessing on his offspring; that we may be weaned from all our dependence on carnal things, even in our religious systems, and may come under the immediate influence of thy Holy Spirit, whereby our hearts may be cleansed, and whereby thy servants may be qualified, even under thine own free anointing, to go forth among their fellow men in the beauty and strength of primitive Christianity; even to bring them forth out of darkness into light, into the glorious liberty of thy children. And grant, O Lord, we pray thee, that as the stars of the heavens cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured, that so thou wouldest multiply the seed of David thy servant, and the Levites who minister unto thee. And grant, O Lord, that all the barriers of pride and prejudice, which would separate Christians one from another, may be utterly demolished in the day of thy power; and that the ocean of light, and of life, and love, may overflow the ocean of darkness and death, and that the kingdoms of the world may become thy kingdoms, O Lord God Almighty, and the kingdoms of thy Christ.

Look down upon us, we pray thee, in thy tender mercies; as a nation, preserve us, we pray thee, from all the power of sin and Satan; bring us home unto righteousness; bless our king and our queen; bless all those in authority; bless the people of this land; and now thy judgments are in the world, let them learn righteousness. And O we pray thee to hasten the day when they shall no longer hurt nor destroy in all thy holy mountain; and when the earth shall be filled with a knowledge of thy glory, O God, as the waters cover the mighty deep; for the work is thine, the power is thine alone. And unto thee, O Father, and unto the Son of thy love, through the one eternal Spirit, we crave ability now to ascribe, with one voice and one heart, glory, power, dominion, thanksgiving, and praise, majesty and high renown, not only now, but henceforth, and to all eternity.