A Sermon Delivered by SAMUEL J. LEVICK In The City Of Philadelphia, Time and Place Not Given.
Foulke, Hugh, ed. The Life of Samuel J. Levick. Philadelphia: William Pile's Sons, 1896, Pages 315-325.

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

We meet today when it is popular to be called a Christian. It was not so some eighteen or nineteen centuries ago, if we may judge by the records of the past, as we find them in the Holy Scriptures. Then the prominent and popular religion was Judaism, and those who were willing to be called the disciples of Jesus Christ were looked upon by the great and the wise and the good (so esteemed) as having forsaken the religion of their fathers and gone after strange teachers, or a strange Teacher. We note that there had been, prior to the coming, or outward advent of Jesus Christ, a voice heard in the wilderness, John the Baptist, crying unto the people, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make his paths straight." And there were those who heard John, and they went "and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins." But John spoke of another, of One that was to come after him; concerning whom he said, "I, indeed, baptize you with water unto repentance, but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear. He shall baptize yon with the Holy Ghost and with fire, whose fan is in his hand, and He will thoroughly purge the floor and gather his wheat into the garner, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." And we find, in the course of a short time, it came to pass as John had declared; for there came to this people another ambassador or prophet, even He of whom Moses in his day had spoken unto the children of Israel, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me. Him shall ye hear." But Moses himself was a leader of Judaism and was, in his time and in after-time, accounted the great leader whom God, by his power, had fitted and prepared for the service assigned him. He was an instrument in the Lord's hand, in bringing his people, Israel, out of the land of Egypt, for he led them forth, he went before them and, in the wisdom of God, he was appointed to lead the people from a land of darkness and oppression to the land of Canaan, the laud of promise. We read of this great teacher, that, early in his mission, he could declare, "I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath .triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea." His prophetic vision could see afar off the coming of the Messiah, so beautifully referred to by Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek. He hath sent me to hind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they, might be called trees of righteousness, the planting, of the Lord that He might be glorified." This was the character of the mission of Jesus Christ. He was sent of God. What more forcible language could be used to bring to the view of the people his mission, than his own words, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the Truth." He was to perfect the work of God, to hold up before the people the way whereby they might be brought into the possession of the fullness of the love of God. This was his work. It is popular today to be called a Christian. But it is one thing to be so called, and quite another to be possessed of Christianity. Our Lord himself pointed out the difference between professing to be, and being, a Christian. "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." In the former days there were those who were ready to say, "Let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach." Beloved friends, I am not here to sit in judgment upon any of you. God forbid! Such is not my mission. There is one who judgeth, and that is God. I view this interesting assembly here gathered as followers of Jesus Christ--no outward power held over them, no penalties attaching unto them for non-attendance; when I look upon this company, composed, as it is, of men and women most of whom are past the meridian of life, I am impressed with the sense that you have not come here this morning merely to be found doing what is needed to maintain respectability in your neighborhood, but I am induced to believe that there are much higher motives which have prompted you to come and sit down with us, in silence, to wait upon the Lord. I believe that the Lord God Almighty, who is ever moving upon the hearts of the children of men everywhere, by his Holy Spirit, is touching your hearts and making you feel the touches of his love, accompanied with an earnest desire that you may be more steadfast in your purpose, more decided Christians. Yea, that there is something within you begetting a desire to be brought into possession of that which satisfies the soul. We receive you to worship with us without regard to outward relationship, whether you believe with this Society or not; for in the feeling that prompted you to come here at this time I recognize the wonderful goodness of that Almighty Power that sees everything as it is, and that looks upon all his creatures everywhere, only with the eye of love, the eye of pity. I am concerned, if possible, to awaken in you, more and more, a sense of the great importance of an acquaintance with God; to assure you that He is open to the same inquiry that was made by the keeper of the prison to Paul and Silas, "What must I do to be saved?" Aye, there is no thought which can enter into the heart of man so important, so vital as this. No, none other. For, to my understanding, that very thought of being saved, should form the great, the most important part of our concern in this life. Saved from what? Why saved from and delivered out of that thraldom, that power which would lead us to do anything that is contrary to the will of God. For we know, beloved, friends, that, while there is that within us which allows us to follow the beck or the call of another, and to turn aside from the Divine requirements, we need to be saved. How we should feel comforted when we remember that the love of God has exemplified itself unto the sons and daughters of men, in that He gave into the world his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Note the promise, "should not perish, but have everlasting life." I am a believer in this doctrine. I am a believer in the declaration recorded, for I recognize, "There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." No, my friends, none other name than his name, which exemplifies his power, "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God. So, then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God."

In thus bearing my testimony to you this morning, it is not that I have received it by tradition nor learned it in the schools of men, but I have felt it and realized it by the revelation of the power of God in my heart. For I know, from a measure of that love of which I have spoken, which spreads from river to river, from sea to sea, from ocean to ocean, to the uttermost parts of the earth, that that love has poured itself into my heart; that it has satisfied my desire; that, by the light of it, the things that were obscure have been made plain; and, standing here, I can bear my humble testimony to the power of this blessed Truth that "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

But I do not now speak of this everlasting life--nor do I believe that it was intended to be so presented--as if it were only attainable when the earthly life shall have ceased. Oh, no; its great and grand glory is that it is vouchsafed unto us here, for it is here we need it, and here is where we ought to enjoy it, in the measure permitted to be enjoyed while in the body.

Then let us, my beloved friends, be willing to hearken unto the voice of the Lord, for it comes to us in many ways. It speaks to us in the night; it comes to us as the heavenly messenger; it comes with the light of its own glory, inviting us to taste, see and thus know for ourselves that the Lord is good. Let us listen to this voice and follow it, for it is as essential today that we should follow our Lord and Master in spirit, as it was that the fishermen of Galilee should follow Him when in the body. Nothing short of a willingness on our part to do this can make us worthy to be numbered among the disciples of Jesus Christ. But mere assent, mere acknowledgment with the tongue, is not that which does the work. A correct belief, valuable as it is, does not make a Christian. We must know the child born, the Son given in us, and that the government of our lives rests upon his shoulders, before we can feel that we are saved. If we feel in our hearts the power of God to be our power, so that when we are tempted it will enable us to say to the tempter, "Get thee hence, Satan," then are we safe in the keeping of our Lord, "For, in that He himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted." And this succor will be given to those, and those only, who are willing to deny themselves, to take up their daily cross and follow Him.

Our Heavenly Father comes as near to his children today as He has ever done, and He pours in the light of his presence and power upon the sons and daughters of men as freely as He has done in any age of the world.

It is amply sufficient for every one who is willing to be brought under the influence of that power, that light and that presence. Blessed be God, He so loved the world, and all that come into the world, that He gave his beloved Son for our salvation.

My brethren and sisters, the glory of our faith and the possession of it are worth more to you and to me and to mankind than anything else can be worth, because such an attainment is a victory over the things of this world, over all the powers of darkness. It lifts us to the position which God designed that every man should occupy. "If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

Why should men be spending their time, the prime of their manhood, in working, striving, laboring night and day for that which, as we all know, perisheth? When we come to compare the transitoriness of the things of this world with the joy of possessing eternal life, is it not marvelous that intelligent men, the world over, should spend their strength, their manhood and all they have, in the pursuit of that which vanisheth like an ignis-fatus, which leads but to bewilder, and which dazzles but to blind?

Look at the world today; grasping, reaching out, overreaching and toiling after riches which, after all, must perish. Such acquisition does not lift a man up in the sight of God, but often just the contrary. I would not apply this remark to what a man need possess, and what he may acquire by energy, by improvement, by a proper exercise of the talents and the powers that have been bestowed upon him; but when he devotes all his available time to the amassing of wealth, and in doing so loses sight of the great work of making his "calling and election sure"--what is his life but a blank in comparison with what it ought to be?

Only contemplate for a moment, were every heart here filled with the power of the Holy Ghost! What a power! it would go out in all directions, in the inviting language, come brother, come sister, "Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and lie will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

When we consider how much we already possess, not only of material wealth, but also of talent and opportunity, and the blessings that have been poured out upon us; and then realize how much more we might do, than we are doing, to smooth down the asperities of life--I feel that these thoughts should drive away sectarianism, where it exists; for that spirit frequently produces controversy and hatred, and when these take possession of a man, they make him narrow minded, and according to his opportunity--a persecutor. This was exemplified in the treatment given to our Saviour, who was persecuted because his teachings differed from those of the priests who were established in their sectarianism, and who hated the new doctrine which He taught. But what could they say? for He had exemplified his power by his works. He had opened the eyes of the blind, had made the deaf to hear, and, in their very sight had the sick been restored to health. This evidence, with that of the five barley loaves, and the two small fishes, manifested to the people the power of the living God in him; for He showed by his works, and testified by his words, that He did not speak for himself, or act by his own power. "I can of mine own self do nothing; as I hear I judge, and my judgment is just; because I seek nor my own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." With all this evidence multiplied again and again, the chief priests conspired to take his life, even when the secular ruler would have spared Him. I would rather fall into the hands of any other class to be judged, than into those of a sectarian believer. What darkness covers that mind which is under the thick vail of sectarianism! Remember how it was with those Jews, when Pilate wanted to release Jesus, for he found no fault in Him. The people, urged by the priests, cried out, release unto us Barabbas. And why did these priests object to having Jesus released? Was it not because they were fearful that his preaching, together with the miracles He had performed, would take away their power from the Sanhedrin, draw away the worshipers from the temple, and cause them to lose their influence? Do we think there is nothing of this kind in the world now? Until a man is willing to come under the government of God, until he is made to believe, until he is willing to deny himself, and take up his daily cross and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, he does act out this kind of spirit. The natural man is selfish and oppressive: he loves his own way more than he loves God. It is terrible to behold, when we cast our eyes about us, and see what has been done in the name of religion. I do not marvel that men are turned away from coming to know, and to listen to religion, when they have looked at the actions of many who profess, and of some who teach it. But when you want to see portrayed the character of true religion, turn and look at the teachings of Jesus Christ. The light that He exemplified was the light of the Father; He was of the Most High God; born not of the corruptible, but of the incorruptible; He and his Father being one.

Now, my Friends, I want you to understand that that same Almighty Power is here this morning, ready to confer this work, this love, this power, upon you; to give you in time a sufficiency of it to enable you to work out your soul's salvation with fear and trembling. And I tell you there is no other way by which you can obtain this than by taking hold of Jesus Christ, by hearkening unto the voice of God; by bringing yourselves, even as the Virtuous Mary brought herself, under submission to the power of the Highest. When you do this, saying in your hearts, "Be it unto me according to thy word," then will the Almighty Power of God be exemplified in you; you will know the child born in you; you will know the government of your lives to rest upon his shoulders, and that He is the Counselor and the Prince of Peace, who will destroy all enmity between you' and your God; and you will experience that peace of which Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

It is the desire of my heart to have an increase of this kind of religion; to have more Christians; and I should be willing to be spent if I could persuade my brethren everywhere to listen to the invitation of the Saviour himself, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Our God wills not the death of any, nor that any should perish, but that all should return, repent and live. Remember this, my friends, all ye that are heavy laden. Oh! could some who are here this morning realize the joys of Heaven, and the peace which fills the heart that is prepared to receive it; even the peace of God--you would be willing to part with everything you have, and to say take it all; only give me that peace which I crave. Turn over the pages of Holy Scripture; read the various illustrations there in the book of Job. How striking and how beautiful they are, when realized and brought home to our individual experience. "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Such, my beloved friends, will be our acknowledgments, when we bow and submit ourselves to the living God. Then his glorious light and power shall come shining around about us, and we can in truth say, "Now mine eye seeth thee."(1) And let us remember that after Job's afflictions, the blessings of the Lord were multiplied unto him, and his last days, were his best days.

Such is the character of the Christian religion, and a glorious one it is.

And this land--the land of our birth--great and powerful as it is, may, by our submitting to his will, and following his leadings, become an earthly kingdom of our Lord and :of his Christ; for when righteousness shall have spread its panoply over the hearts of the people, the beams of the rising sun will penetrate the dark recesses of sin and selfishness, and the name of the Lord will be extolled everywhere.

1. 1. Job 42:5-6.