A Sermon and Prayer Delivered by Joseph John Gurney at Arch Street Meeting-house, First-day Evening, Third Month, Twenty-fifth, 1838.
Hopper, Edward. Sermons and Prayers, Delivered in the City of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Kay and Brother, 1838, pages 81-96.

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

The Sermon:

[P81] When our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was about to leave this lower world, and to ascend into that glory from which he came, he went to his disciples, on the mountain in Galilee, I think it was, and said unto them, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations," (or make disciples of all nations,) "baptizing them in the name" (or as it ought to be, into the name) "into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the .Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." And this, the command given forth to his disciples, was introduced by a declaration, that all power was in his hands, both in heaven and in earth. And it was followed by the gracious promise, That he would be with them always. The All-powerful One [P82] being always with them, they might well believe that they would be enabled to perform the high and holy duties, pointed out in the command. "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." And when we look at the words and manner in which this commandment is introduced, and followed by the promise of his own presence always at hand to assist them, I think we must conclude that the duty which they were commanded to perform, was not one which they could do by their own bodily powers, in their own strength, and at their own time. And, as doubtless they could make disciples only by the power of the Holy Ghost, so I think it is abundantly evident, that they could baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, only by the same power. And herein they were but the instruments for Christ himself, as the one immortal, omnipotent, unchangeable Baptizer of the children of men.

And, probably, it was very nearly at the same time, very shortly before his ascension, that he made the very notable distinction, "John truly, baptized with water;" said he to his disciples, "but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." And it is very observable from various passages in the New Testament, that our blessed Lord and Master was accustomed to use the word baptize, in a spiritual sense. "But I have a baptism to be bap [P83] tized with;" said he, "and how am I straitened till it be accomplished." We know that Paul, though not then present, was afterwards made a full partaker of the apostolic unction. He was not a whit behind the chiefest apostles, and he expressly says; "Christ sent me not to baptize," (that is with water,) "but to preach the gospel;" "not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power." And, friends, when the disciples of Jesus, after tarrying many days at

Jerusalem, were endued with power from on high, they went forth, and through the appointed instrumentality of an inspired ministry, by that preaching which was in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, they baptized the people into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. According to the words of Paul again; "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word;" doubtless the word preached in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, which was thus made an instrument for sanctifying and cleansing the church, by the washing of water, an instrument whereby the unbelieving Gentiles also were converted, and brought under the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. And although the apostolic commission was indeed most, pre-eminent in its nature and character, and marked by some grand features which were all its own, we do believe that it is still [P84] the office and the duty of the ministers of Christ, to baptize the people of every name and class, not with that outward element, but by the living and anointed preaching of the glorious gospel, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And when their very spirits faint within them, in the view of the awful importance of the work, when they cry in their secret conflict of spirit, "Who is sufficient for this thing?" they are cheered in the remembrance of the Saviour's words; "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth;" and again; "And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." And therefore, their faces are set as a flint, and therefore are they made as an iron pillar, and as a brazen wall, against all opposers; against all who will not bear the light of the glorious gospel; for this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.

The Lord in his tender mercy grant, that many impure, polluted souls may, even this night, be baptized into the name of the Father, whether he may be pleased to permit the continuance of the word of ministry, or whether he may proclaim a solemn silence, wherein the language may go forth in spirit; "Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord, for he is raised up out of his holy habitation." "Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength."

[P85] And friends, we want to be more baptized into the mighty fear of God, the infinite and adorable Creator of heaven and earth, who filleth the boundless universe which he hath made, -- boundless to the scrutiny of man -- and who searcheth all hearts, and knoweth all the imaginations of the thoughts, and will render unto every man according to his works. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Sabaoth, and let the whole world be filled with his glory! For, I think, friends, that did we know better than now we do, some of us, what it is to tremble under an awful feeling of the power and the holiness of Jehovah, there would be less dependence upon the carnal mind in the worship of God; and we should esteem it our highest privilege, reverently to wait upon the incomprehensible, infinite, omnipotent, omnipresent, all-glorious One, in the silence of all flesh. And my belief is, that the hour is coming, when many will be brought to see the beauty, and to feel the efficacy, of' this worship.

And truly, friend, as our views of the power and presence of the Father, are prone to be very superficial, so also are our views of our own degradation, and of the depth of our corruption in the fall; and we are forever inclined to daub over the tottering wall with untempered mortar, and to cry, peace, peace, unto ourselves, when there is no peace. But, friends, when we are baptized by the power of God's [P86] Holy Spirit into the name of the Father, and are brought to a living sense of his holiness, and into an awful remembrance of the doctrine, that God is light, and that in him there is no darkness at all, then do we begin to see our own alienation from him, while we are dead in trespasses and sin; then do we begin to perceive the sinfulness of sin; then are we brought to a trembling sense of the malignity of this worst of all evils.

And what is sin ? Sin is the transgression of~ the law. Of whose law? Of the law of God. And where is the law of God written ? It is written very plainly -- for thus we can read it there -- in the page of Scripture; it is written for all the children of men; even for those who are not yet in possession of that privilege, upon the tablets of the heart. And sin is the transgression of the law of God, as it is made known in various degrees to the children of men, as it is read under the light of the inshining of his Spirit. And you know, friends, you are all guilty of transgressing this law. Your consciences condemn you for it. And if you do not now escape from the consequences thereof, the worm of a wounded, of a troubled conscience, shall awaken all its energies, and feed on you forever.

Now therefore, ye beloved ones of every name and class, be ye baptized into the name of the Father; learn to tremble in the presence of the Righteous Judge of all flesh, "Whither shall I go from thy [P87]Spirit ? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me." But, O friends, may you all be brought to know the trembling of spirit before him, of which he spake, when he said, "The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me! and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."

O, that some hardened and dark transgressors may be brought to quail under the power of the living God, this very night. May they cry out, "I am pained at my very heart, my heart maketh a noise in me: I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my-soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war."

And yet, friends, there is a being baptized into a sense, not only of the holiness, but of the love of God. O yes, we may well be melted into tenderness, when we offend the immutable Jehovah, the God of holiness, who condescends to plead with his [P88] transgressing children, as a father pleads with his dear son or daughter! "I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way, that thou shouldst go. Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea." "I have surely," again it is said, "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord, my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh." O that there may be penitent Ephraims, smiting upon their thigh, and smiting upon their breasts. "I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still; therefore my bowels are troubled for him: I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord."

Therefore, friends, be ye baptized into a living sense of your own sinfulness, and of the holiness and love of God your Father, whose tender mercies are over all his works; who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of his truth, and with whom there is no respect of persons. "Look unto me, and be ye saved, ail the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else." "For God [89] hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." And here may you behold the most essential and glorious of all evidences of the holiness and the love of God, that he hath sent his only begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have eternal life. Here indeed, the holiness of God, and his boundless love, are presented to our view, in glorious unison and harmony; here mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

O you, if there be such, who are brought under trembling, because of the holiness of an omnipresent God, who knows your iniquity, and will by no means acquit the guilty, while they continue in sin; 0 you, who are brought also to feel, that this holy God, is a God of infinite benevolence, be ye baptized into the name of the Son; for "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life;" and never, never, never shall have life. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath Of God abideth on him." We are all by nature the children of wrath; and well may we be so, when we remember that the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; and God our Father, in his matchless love, has provided us with a Saviour, in whom there is the fulness of remedy for us and through whom, we may, all of [P90] us, escape from the wrath to come. But, if we will say nay to this Saviour, if we will turn our backs upon the Holy One of Israel, if we will not have this man to rule over us, if we will trample upon the blood of the covenant as an unholy thing -- why then, it follows, that the wrath of God abideth, continueth on us. Here there is a remedy for you, my friends and brethren, here there is an escape from the wrath to come, here there is a provision whereby you may all be plucked as brands from the burning, and become monuments of the mercy of God our Father, through his well beloved Son. And will ye not flee for refuge to the Christ of God? Will ye not come home through the efficacy of a spiritual baptism, to the only Mediator between God and man; who said to his disciples, "Whom do men say that I, the Son .of man, am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." "And this," beloved friends, "this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" O, the efficacy of this living faith, of this heart-felt reliance [P91] upon the only Saviour, who died without the gates of Jerusalem, a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of all mankind! Ah, friends, it is by a baptism in very deed, that fallen man is brought to this faith; and it remains to be the blessed office of the Lord's servants, in every age, to testify of repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Now therefore, repent, repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." Yes; and thy house. O, ye parents, may you take pity on your own souls, and on the souls of your children. May you bring them, and lay them at the feet of Jesus. For the mercy of the Lord is from generation to generation upon them that fear him, upon them that keep his covenant.

And now, behold the poor penitent sinner, broken down under the power of the Holy Spirit, brought to a lively feeling of the sinfulness of sin, humbled in a view of the terrors of the Lord, and enabled, by a living faith, to forsake his iniquity, and turn to the Saviour of men, and wash his robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. Behold the converted one, reconciled to the Father through the Son, a child of grace, and an heir of eternal glory, who now can say unto God, Abba, Father, and is a freeborn citizen of the new Jerusalem. For, "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the Sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the [P92] flesh, nor he will of man, but of God." Here, friends, there is freedom indeed. Here, there is peace and security indeed. Here, there is a sure refuge in every hour of sorrow, of trial, and of dismay. Here there is a victory over all the dark powers of sin and of Satan. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." And behold, it is the work, not of man, nor of the wisdom of man, nor of the power of man; but it is the work of the Lord's Holy Spirit; and therefore, friends, be ye baptized, every one, into the name of the Holy Ghost; even into the name of the Comforter, whom our blessed Saviour promised to send unto you from the Father; by whose matchless influence you can alone be effectually baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son.

And, O that there may be increasingly abounding among us, a living faith in the Holy Ghost! a result of one and the same living and effectual baptism. For, "there is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

And, friends, the very same power of the Holy Ghost which can alone lead ns to repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, must cleanse us from all our iniquities, and create ha us a clean [P93] heart, and renew a right spirit within us. Now doubtless, Christians of every name, are increasingly prepared to acknowledge this truth. But O, my dear friends, we want to give it more place in our minds, and to realize, more than we now do, the immediate guidance, government, teaching, light, life, and power of the Holy Ghost; that in all our life and conversation, we may know what it is to be guided and governed by that wisdom which cometh from above; and which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy; and our "hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us."

May the Lord in his mercy grant, that this pure love may spread, abound, and flow, on every side; that our hearts being filled with love to God, and love to our fellow-men, we may accomplish the purpose of our creation, even to live in all things to the glory of God. "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." And thus, beloved friends, being baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we poor degraded ones by nature, witness a blessed renovation, a new creation, wherein "the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose." And [94] this world, instead of being the theatre of bloodshed, cruelty, oppression, falsehood, injustice, lasciviousness, pride, covetousness, folly, and vanity, would become, under the matchless working of those high and holy principles of true religion, even by the power of a heart-searching, heart cleansing, religion -- would become, and I trust, is becoming by degrees, a scene of justice, integrity, purity, love, joy, patience, temperance, and peace; wherein the glory of God will be known to be over ail; and the earth shall be filled therewith, as the waves cover the mighty deep; and from the uttermost parts of the earth there shall yet arise, songs of thanksgiving, glory, and praise, unto the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, one true, living, unchangeable, indivisible God over all, forever and forever more. Amen.

[P95] The Prayer.

O thou, Lord God Almighty! in the conclusion of our solemn assemblies, we reverently crave ability to return unto thee our humble thanksgiving, for thine abundant mercy, and above all, for the blessed and glorious hope of everlasting life, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And in deep self-abasement, we beseech thee to forgive all, our iniquities, and to blot them out forever, in the atoning blood of the Lamb; and that our names may be found written in the Lamb's book of life, even when the book shall be opened, and when all the children of men shall be judged according to their works.

And now, glorious Lord, we beseech thee to pour forth of thine own holy and eternal Spirit upon this assembly, that all may be brought very near to thee, our Father and our God, and very near one unto another, in the unity of thy Spirit, and in the love of the everlasting gospel. And grant, we humbly pray thee, that thine own pure eternal truth, in its simplicity, and in its power, may rise into full dominion; and that in the humiliation of every heart, we may confess that unto thee, O God our Father, the Creator of heaven and earth, and unto thy well beloved Son, and unto the Holy Spirit, the Teacher [P96] and Sanctifier of thy children, one true, living, incomprehensible God over all, belong and must be ascribed, all honor, power, dominion and praise. O, the glorious oneness of thee, thou eternal Jehovah! blessed and glorified be thine ever-excellent name, now, henceforth, and to all eternity.