A Sermon Delivered by SAMUEL SCOTT, at Gracious-Street Meeting (also called "Grace Church Street Meeting) November 11, 1735.
Scripture Truths Demonstrated, Being Sermons or Declarations by William Dewsbury, Robert Barclay, George Whitehead, William Penn, Charles Marshall, &c. &c. York: W. Alexander and Son; London: Harvey and Darton, W. Phillips, and W. Darton; Dublin: Christopher Bentham, 1824.
This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part 2: The 18th Century.
In my waiting upon God amongst you at this time, there hath been brought to my remembrance, that solemn message which the prophet was sent with to declare unto the King of Israel, when he was visited with sickness from the Lord: the tenour whereof was, that he should set things in order: Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live.(1)
I would have us consider that such a time, or such a message hath come to many of our friends and acquaintances of late; and will certainly come, and ought to be expected by all mankind, of all degrees and stations of life, from the King upon the throne to the meanest subject. We may remember, that this was a very solemn and humbling message to the good King Hezekiah, as it will certainly be to every one of us, if we are favoured with our reason and understanding.
The great God, in whose hand is our life and being, he is yet sparing and favouring us with time and opportunities, and visitations of Divine love and mercy from on High. O! that we may be induced thereby in time to consider our ways and be wise! I remember the kingly prophet David, when at a certain time he was under the afflicting hand of the Almighty, he entreated the Lord in a very humble manner; for when the afflicting hand of God is laid upon men, it is of an humbling nature; they are frequently brought down into due and proper considerations of themselves, and of their inward state and condition of soul. O, spare me, said he, that I may recover strength before I go hence and no more! This I take to have been his concern that the Lord would spare him, and give him so long time, that he might be fitted and prepared for his change; that his soul might befitted and made ready to pass out of time into eternity.
O dear friends and people! I am concerned, in the love of God, to put you in mind of your latter end, that if you find yourselves in a sinful and polluted state, you may implore Divine mercy to be spared yet a little longer, that you may come under the work of Divine grace, in order to be prepared, and to witness your sins going beforehand to judgment; for as the apostle declared, some men's sins go beforehand to judgment, and some men's follow after,(2) wich shows an all-seeing Eye takes cognizance of mankind, from the highest to the lowest, of their ways and actions, who will render a recompence to every one according as their works shall be; as they are in his sight, who judgeth truly and righteously, and will not acquit the guilty, nor condemn the innocent.
Therefore happy and blessed are they, whose sins are going beforehand to judgment, that are crying out, like the servant of the Lord: O spare me yet a little longer, that I may recover strength! That I may be made whole and holy, by being washed and purified from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, that I may obtain help from the Lord, and be enabled to perfect holiness in thy fear.
O friends! It is a circumstance not to be dallied with, delayed, or put off to another time; but now is the time to come under these serious considerations.
It is not a bare professing, or talking of religion only that will prevail, but, how are we walking and acting, as in the sight of the Omniscient Lord God? This good King Hezekiah, had attained to the blessed assurance of the favour of God; when this solemn and humbling message was brought to him, yet we read he turned his face to the wall; he turned from all visible objects. They who have the greatest share of worldly possessions, what comforts will they administer at such a time? Nothing will avail but the mercy of God through Christ, and the evidence of the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our spirits, that we have been walking in the fear of God, as Hezekiah did, who made his address unto the Lord, and said: Thou knowest, O Lord! how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight."(3)
And we find the Lord owned him therein, and spared him, he receiving the message with weeping, and humbling himself before the Almighty.
O! This is the way to find favour with God, for the lofty ones to come down, and the proud to be abased; so that all flesh may be humbled in the presence of the God of heaven; for all flesh is compared to grass,(4) and man, in his greatest strength and beauty, to the flower of the field, which soon withereth and fadeth away, as we poor mortals do; but the word of the Lord endureth forever--this word of the Lord that is revealed in men's hearts, and is to be known and witnessed as a fire, a hammer, a sword, to burn up the briars and thorns--that which hath choked the precious Seed; to break the hard heart that hath been hardened through repeated transgressions, through pride, arrogency, and walking in the evil way; to cut and hew down all superfluity of naughtiness, and to separate between the precious and the vile; that thereby men's hearts may come to be prepared, and they may recover health of soul, through the operation of the Divine Word and Spirit of God, which in mercy is come nigh unto men, that they might be prepared thereby to live to his glory while on earth, and spend their few uncertain moments in his fear; that when the solemn message comes, that we are called hence, to be no longer stewards, but must give an account of our stewardship before the tribunal of the Majesty on High, it may be with joy.
If we have known the work and operations of this Divine Word, and have waited on and submitted thereto, then have we had our fruit unto holiness, and have been bowing before the Lord in our meetings. When there has been no verbal testimony amongst us, we have had recourse to the inward law written in our hearts,(1) we have humbled ourselves, and been saying, as did one of old: How shall I come before thee, Lord, the great and mighty one? Or how shall I bow myself before the most High God? So that I may be accepted of him.
O that people had but such considerations! they would be brought down; the lofty looks of men, and pride of all flesh would be abased and stained, their laughter would be turned into mourning, and their joys into heaviness, if they were but really concerned to be accepted of the Lord. What think ye? Will the Lord accept of men and women in their pride and vain glory, and gay attire and superfluity? Such as mine eyes have beheld with sorrow, upon some in this meeting. I tell ye, nay; for such are spotted and stain with the spots of this world; they are too much taken up with, and following the vain fashions and customs of it, which must be repented of and turned from, if they would find mercy with the Lord, if they are not totally hardened and resolved to have their own ways till the last moment of their time.
O! Therefore come down all you lofty sons and daughter in Sion, and put away your pride and arrogancy, that you may be prepared for this solemn time and message, and may come before the Lord with true humility, in these our meetings for his Divine worship and service, and not be adorned in such a manner as was spoken against by the apostle, which doth not become a people professing the self-denying religion of our Lord Jesus Christ. That none may be found coming after such a manner, I must tell you it is not acceptable to the Lord; but it is a contradiction to our Christian profession, if we hold the Truth in unrighteousness, and such a conversation as doth not become the Gospel of Christ; but may our adorning be that of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God, is said to be precious, or of great price.
O! that we may be his church and people coming before the Lord, and bowing in spirit before the Most High; for he will show unto us, as he did unto his servant of old, who was concerned to approach him was acceptance, and to query whether it might be with any outward offerings, as of calves of a year old, or thousands of rams, or rivers of oil; and what was yet more near to offer, his first born for his transgressions, the fruit of his body for the sin of his soul.
He showeth unto thee, O man! what is good,(2) and what the Lord our God requireth of thee, which then was, and still is, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with the Lord thy God. Oh! then, if we are not only professing, but found thus walking, when this undeniable messenger cometh, we may make our application with humble boldness to the Lord: Thou knowest how I have walked before thee in Truth, and with a perfect heart. The Lord showed great love to Hezekiah, and lengthened out his days yet fifteen years.
Oh dear Friends! I continue my speech amongst you a little beyond the usual time, but it is in love and good will to every soul; for it is well known we seek not yours, but preach freely in the free extendings of Divine love, when he opens our mouths to declare of his judgments and mercies unto the people and to show forth his praises amongst the children of men; so that we might be prepared in time to live to his glory, that he might own us, and shine forth upon our assemblies, to bless the provision of Sion, and satisfy her poor with bread. O, that these blessing might be reached unto and partaken of by all!
I doubt not, there is a remnant who are under an inward travail for this every day, that through
partaking of Divine strength, they may live in his fear, and so shine forth in a holy humble
conversation, as to show forth his praise and the virtue of that grace and Truth which comes by
Jesus Christ, to convert mankind unto God, and to make them holy whilst here upon earth, that
they may be eternally happy hereafter; and when this earthly tabernacles shall be laid low, we may
have an evidence of a building with God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,
where, with saints and angels, our suls may ever live to bless and adore the Lord our God; for He
is worthy of all honour, worship, thanksgiving, and praise, now and evermore. Amen.
1. 2. 3. 4.
1.2 Kings 20:1. -pds
2.I Timothy 5:24. -pds
3.2 Kings 20:2-3. -pds
4.Isaiah 40:6. -pds
1. Jeremiah 31:33 -pds
2. Micah 6:8 -pds