A Sermon Delivered by RUTH ANN STANTON, 8-22-1880, At An Appointed Meeting, Wesleyan Church in Westfield, Indiana.
Previously Unpublished Material Transcribed from Archival Manuscripts by Tom Roberts, Made available to the editor by Edsel Burdge.
This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part 3: The 19th Century
My dear friends, I feel to entreat you this evening that we let not time pass and neglect so great salvation that has been offered to us, but turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, for I believe truly that His judgments are just. I desire that we may indeed, as accountable unto God, bear in mind there is a swift witness in every breast that testifies of right from wrong. If we transgress the religious law of God, it shows us indeed by the feeling of condemnation in our hearts. I desire we may keep our conscience clear in the sight of God.
It is said that our conscience is only a creature of education; that by taking a child and instructing it, its conscience may be so trained that it is not a sure guide. But my dear friends, when God's spirit shines in our hearts, it shows by and through our conscience that we are sinners in His sight and have transgressed His righteous law. Then, my friends, it is necessary that we let not the time pass before turning to Him who is able to save and give that crown of glory we so much desire.
I believe the Lord is a reprover of those who do wickedly until they have sinned out their day of grace and turned them over to a reprobate mind. God is merciful and of long forbearance with His Children, but I believe there are those up and down in the land, that His spirit ceases to strive with, and are left in the hands of the cruel enemy who is seeking to destroy as much as he has ever been. I desire that our conscience may be enlightened by the light of Christ, that teacher who teaches in the secret of our souls if we are teachable.
I feel, indeed, to invite every one of this number that we may not rest until we investigate this matter for ourselves and know of a truth that God is our God, and we are His children, being led by the unerring spirit of truth which will regulate our actions and heart that we may indeed know that we may sin in thought as well as words.
God has made us free agents with the right to choose between good and evil. Why no, my friends, choose the evil? Because we believe in time by living under the direction and government of Christ that we will reap a rich reward which is impossible if living under the government of the enemy, that old serpent the devil. We never know more peace than when we are converted unto God and serving him according to the best of knowledge. I know how it was with me when I was younger, and I know it is common now for those in the younger walks of life, when they feel the strivings of the spirit of God drawing them to Himself, it is common for those to say, "I am not quite ready; wait until I saw a patch of "wild oats," and then I will turn and be a Christian. I have no idea of dying any other than the death of the righteous. I want to possess one of those bright mansions which Jesus went to prepare for every one who lives a Christian life. I want to indulge in the gratification of my own nature until I settle in life, or until I have bought a farm or until I have established a reputation in business, then I will turn and live a Christian life."
I know, friends, how it is that the enemy of our soul's peace lulls us to rest in this kind of conclusion. Fathers and Mothers, have any of you ever found that there was a better time to give your hearts to Jesus than in your youthful days, when you felt the promptings of His spirit? I believe there are those here who can fully realize something of these things, who want to put the day of serving the Lord off to a more convenient time. There is no time so easy as when you feel the pleading of the Saviour's love, saying in substance, my son, my daughter, give me thy heart, turn away from these sin pleasing things of time and give me thy heart. He will care for thee; though things may loom up mountain high, they shall be brought low; little hills shall be little still and mountains of opposition shall melt away.
My dear young friends, I want you to take up your crosses and follow Him who never leads astray. It will give you more joy in living a Christian life than following the pleasures of sin, even for a season; for a "doorkeeper in the house of the Lord is better than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."
As I have said before, we are made free agents, free to choose between good and evil, and I assure you if I have any experience at all in religion, and in sinning, which I claim I have, there is more joy over one repentant sinner than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance.
It is so sometimes in this enlightened age of the world that some persons feel they have gone so far in transgression that it is hardly worth while to undertake to turn away and learn of God.
If there are any in this meeting who feel that they are sinners in the sight of God, I desire that they
may be encouraged and not give out by the way and conclude you cannot go any farther. I
beseech you, my friends, to lift up your heads in hope, because the Spirit of Truth is alive as I
believe, and is extending salvation to all who are in this house, if they will only yield to the
1. A base for her remarks is found in Acts 17-26, "God hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth," and He has placed us here on equality, with equal rights and privileges. Free agents to choose for ourselves this day whom we will serve. Whether we will serve the gods of this world, or the true and living God.