A Sermon And Prayer Delivered by THOMAS LECHTWORTH at the Meetinghouse in the Park, Southwark, England, date unspecified.
Twelve Discourses Delivered Chiefly at the Meeting House of the People Called Quakers, in the Park, Southwark. Salem: Thomas Cushing, 1794.

This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Section 2: The 17th Century.

The Sermon:

When I first entered under this roof, I felt as little disposition to vocal public service as any in the whole of this congregation could have possessed. Conscious of my own weakness and my many infirmities, I secretly wished to be strengthened by him, who is the Minister of the sanctuary and the glorious High Priest of the Christian religion; and, indeed, unless we are favoured with his presence, we shall sit as it were in darkness, and in the regions of the shadow of death. If we feel not the influence of his Holy Spirit, effectually to quicken us and inspire us with the spirit of devotion, in vain shall we lift up our hands and offer up the sacrifice of vocal prayer and praise unto him. It would be well if we had ever in remembrance, that of ourselves we are nothing, and of ourselves can do nothing, I mean nothing that is essentially good. Unless in our religious assemblies we are first ministered unto by the chief Shepherd and Bishop of souls, we cannot profitably minister one to another. This the apostles very evidently shew, particularly where one of them,.alluding to his gospel ministry, says, that we may comfort others with the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. The disciple must first receive of his Lord, before he can dispense it to his brethren, and it is therefore that we profess, I fay, profess, at least, to meet upon one common bottom, both ministers and those in a private station, to wait, in all singleness of heart, upon that Being, who regardeth the crying of the, poor, and the supplications of the needy ,who, in a peculiar manner, will look unto that man who is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth, at his word. And, though the youth may faint, and the young men utterly fall, yet those, who wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount upwards with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.

It might perhaps be a little profitable for us to inquire what we are to understand by the renewing of our strength: they, that wait upon the L ord, shall renew their strength. I conceive this to be intended purely in a spiritual sense; for, if natural strength, be exhausted by labour or fatigue, it is to be, recovered, in the ordinary course of God's providence, only by rest and the application of suitable nutritious food; but those, who wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength. Such are the nature and constitution of the human soul, that, in order to be preferred and live to God, with a holy zeal for his name, and for his cause, to be endowed with strength virtuously to resolve, and virtuously to pursue the just man's way, it must be renewed by food that is of a spiritual nature; that, as bread is a term for natural food, which is adapted to the support and well-being of our bodies, so this spiritual food, renewed unto us by the renewings of the Holy Ghost, is that bread which indeed the world knoweth not of. The world that lieth in wickedness, the sensualist, has no taste nor relish for that bread which cometh down from God out of heaven, and nourisheth the soul up unto eternal life.

Though, in the application which the disciples were instructed to make to the common Father of us all, outward blessings might be included with spiritual ones, yet doubtless, as the welfare of the soul is of infinitely more importance than the health and welfare of the body in that part of the prayer, in which we are instructed to say - Give us this day our daily bread, is principally intended that spiritual communication with the God of the spirits of all flesh; which imparts strength and vigour to the soul, animating it with a spirit of real devotion, that it can ascend above this lower and terrestrial sphere, - ascend as upon the wings of an eagle, a bird which is said to approach the nearer to that glorious natural luminary, the sun, in its flights. So, that soul, which possesses not only the spirit of real religion, but also feels its best affections animated towards God, will have this privilege over the mere professor of religion, that he will ascend, as upon the wings of an eagle, ascend in an awful contemplation of the divine attributes, in a meditation upon spiritual subjects, in a strain of holy and fervent devotion; he will ascend the mount of the Lord's holiness, encompass his altar in the multitude of his mercies, and lift up his heart with his hands to that Being who inhabits the heavens.

Impressed with the importance of these truths, which we, as a religious society, peculiarly profess, let us, friends, not come to these meeting merely with an expectation of receiving benefit, edification or comfort one from another. Let us not look one upon another with, Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved? or, who shall show us any good? But, sensible of our own respective wants, and impressed with a just idea of the solemnity of that business which we are professedly met about, let us, in the nothingness of self, in the silence of all flesh, reverently wait upon the Minister of the sanctuary; and him let us look with all singleness of heart, and say, Lord lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us, thus, possessing that affection of mind which is analogous to the affection of corporeal hunger, as persons sensible of our wants, and also where those wants can be effectually supplied, we shall become the objects of that most desirable blessing, blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. It seems to me, beyond the least degree of doubt that the royal psalmist felt this spiritual hunger; he felt this sense of want, and the need that he stood in of a supply from the divine Presence, when he speaks to this purport: As the hart panteth after the water, brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God; and again, My soul thirsteth fot God, yea, for the living God. This passage of the royal psalmist seems to convey an idea to me of the soul which feels the weight of its own infirmities, the pressure and the importunity of surrounding temptations; closely pressed, hunted as it were, pursued by its enemies, as the hart, when its strength is nearly exhausted, and almost ready to faint and drop with thirst, to whom nothing could be more precious than a spring of water: therefore, as the hunted hart panteth after the water brooks, so that soul which is sensible of its infirmities, and feels the pressure of surrounding temptations, longs after immortal spring of goodness, where it be refreshed and strengthened, and escape its enemies, to pursue its course successfully, ultimately to finish it with joy.

I wish we were more and more impressed a just sense of what we are, that the pride of human nature were more effectually humbled; that we might look up to him who is the source of all that is excellent and good, and to use the language of the holy penman, feel after the Lord, if haply we might find him. And he, whom the fervent soul is in search after, is not afar off; whom thou longest for, will suddenly come unto his temple; but, who shall abide the day of coming ? who shall stand when he appeareth? When the soul is thus favoured with a spiritual communion, and intellectual sense of the supreme Being, it is then that every thing that is exalted becomes abased; the loftiness of man is brought down; he sees himself as a worm, and no man; as unworthy of the least of his mercies and truth; and therefore, in this view of himself and of the supreme Being, he will break forth, in the language of Job, I have heard of thee, by the hearing of ear - so far the theorist may collect a system of faith; but, he not only heard of him by the hearing of the ear, but, says he, now mine eye seeth thee. He had formed just notions of the supreme Being; he was enlightened to have just ideas of himself. I have heard of thee, says he, by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I repent and abhor myself in dust and ashes. This is that humbling sense which we all of us should possess of ourselves, if, in the sense which our Saviour intended, we were favoured to fee God: Blessed (says he) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God; which certainly must be intended in a peculiar and spiritual sense, for he is not the object of our senses. To be sure, in one respect, it may, be said, the pure and the impure see God; they have a sensible demonstration of his being in the works of creation, and of the attributes of power, wisdom and goodness but they have not that animating, that intellectual, vision, which is the blessing of the pure in heart: blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Let none be so weak as to imagine this to be understood in the fullest sense of the word; for, in the supreme Being we live, and move, and have our being; he comprehends all things, and is comprehended by nothing. If thou ascend up to heaven, he is there ; if thou go down to the depth of the sea, he is there. The darkness and the light are both alike to him; he is infinite, in all his attributes; he is omnipresent, he pervadeth every part of his vast extended empire; there are no bounds to his Omnipotence; he remains the same, from generation to generation; with him, the perfect King, there is no variableness, neither any shadow of turning. When we contemplate with propriety, the attributes of this Being, through the sanctification of the Spirit, then we experience what it is to have a pure heart, a heart possessing purity of intention, whose faculties and powers are placed on a pure object, and all under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and under the government of those laws which the infinitely wise Legislator hath adapted to promote the happiness of all his creatures, and to prepare them for the glory and the dignity that is the peculiar privilege of the pure in heart; the enjoyment of that pure state of being, which we see now but darkly, through a glass, where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest; where the society of the just are employed in contemplating the attributes of the eternal King, and join in the solemn song of Moses, the servant of God, and of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God almighty ; just and true are thy ways thou King of saints!

The Prayer:

Most gracious God, as of ourselves we can do nothing, be pleased, we humbly beseech thee, to look down from the heavens, the habitation of thy holiness, favourably upon us at this season. Do thou lift up the light of thy glorious countenance upon us, that in thy light, O Lord, we may see light, and that our understandings may be effectually informed respecting those things which belong to our peace and to thy glory; that our understandings may not only be enlightened to see, but also our hearts strengthened and animated to engage in the work of righteousness, which is peace, and the effect of it quietness and assurance forever.

O most merciful Father, look down upon us, vile, unworthy creatures; inflame our hearts with a sense of gratitude to thee, the Author and Fountain of every good and perfect gift, of all those blessings which we have received, and have so much misapplied, in the course of our short pilgrimage; that, under a just sense of thy majesty, of thy mercy and goodness, and of our own weakness, we may be induced to approach thy holy altar, and put up our supplications unto thee, that thou wouldest be pleased to send us health out of thy sanctuary, and strengthen us as out of Zion.

Thou, that haft been a rock and a place of refuge for the righteous in all generations, look down, we beseech thee, upon those that are under the pressure of any species of affliction and probation, those whose hearts are right towards thee, who are going to Mount Zion, and have had their feet directed thither. Oh! be pleased to afford these the aid of thy Spirit in the moments of human weakness, and in their solemn adverse season. Lift up the light of thy countenance upon them. O Lord, preserve us all in the course of our pilgrimage through this vale of tears; guide us, by the light of thy counsel, and afterwards receive us into the realms of celestial glory, where, having been previously effectually purged, sanctified, and justified, in and through Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we may join the heavenly society, and forever be with the saints and angels, and spirits of just men made perfect, to laud and praise thy great and excellent name; to whom, for all thy mercies, be the dominion, thanksgiving, blessing, and praise, not only now, but henceforth and forever. Amen.