A Sermon Preached Delivered by STEPHEN CRISP at Grace-Church-Street, May 29, 1692
New Foundations Papers, #47, July, 1993.

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

The Preface


Tho' the transcriber of these sermons doth out of modesty decline to print his name, he does assure the reader, that he has not in the least altered or imposed upon the preacher's sense, either in the taking or transcribing of the,: And he does further declare, that he neither is, nor ever was, one of the people called Quakers, but always of another persuasion: Yet being willing, according to the Apostle's rule, to try all things, he has sometimes been present at their meetings; and having the art of short-writing, he has taken many of their sermons and prayers from the mouth of divers of their preachers; and among others those of Stephen Crisp, deceased; which, upon review, appeared to him,as well as to eminent persons of another sect, to contain some many Gospel Truths, delivered with such plainness, zeal, and demonstration, and generally agreeable to the know doctrines of Christianity, that it is hoped the publishing of them may be useful to the world: And, that the design and intent of them may be the more readily comprehended, there is a title given to every sermon, agreeable to the subject matter chiefly treated of therein.

The Sermon:

There is a universal standard of truth, that God hath set up over all the sons and daughters of men; he hath given the knowledge of it in and through Jesus Christ; he hath dealt it out to them, that they may be capable of joining and adhering to the truth, and to be delivered from eternal condemnation. This standard and measuring-rule is revealed and manifested in every man and woman, by the light that shines in their hearts, by which they are able to discern, and give a sound judgment (if they are but willing) upon all their own ways. A man or woman may know in every word they speak, in every action they do, whether they speak, or do, according to the truth, or whether they are justified by the truth, in what they speak and do.

I tell you, my friends, this is no small mercy, that mankind hath obtained at the hand of his Maker, that he is brought into a capacity of not acting blind-fold, but that he may see his way, and his own inclinations, and pass judgment upon them, whether they are good or evil? Whether they will stand justified in the sight of his Maker, or whether they will be condemned.

I confess, the veil of ignorance, that is come over the sons and daughters of men, through sin, transgression, and rebellion, is very great. And I may say, as the apostle said, sometime you were in darkness: And what can darkness see? What can darkness discover? the Lord our God, that made us, hath not left us in that state of darkness, blindness and ignorance, but through the riches of his mercy and goodness, hath found out a way, to command that light should shine out of darkness, into peoples hearts, for all that the Devil did to darken man, to alienate and estrange him from his Maker.

The same Almighty Power, that said in the creation, let there be light, and it was so; he hath shined into our hearts, and the way by which he hath done so, is through the Mediator, through Jesus Christ the Redeemer, in whom the fullness of the God-head dwells. He hath receive power from his Father, not only to be a light and salvation, but to impart and communicate of the divine light unto them, even unto every one that cometh into the world; that so by means thereof, they may be delivered from their darkness, and ignorance of the mind of God, that they were liable to in the fall, and might be restored, through the Mediator, to a capacity of judging of their own actions, and of the own words, and ways, and inclinations.

This is the standard which God hath pitched in every one of our bosoms, for the trial of ourselves, either for our justification, or condemnation, of every word and action. Now, to make every one sensible of the greatness of this blessing, consider, it is not only given to augment and increase knowledge, is given on purpose to allure and persuade men into a liking of truth, into a love of truth: The apostle esteemed it a wonderful mercy that came by Christ; he hath sent him to bless us, in turning every one of us from the evil of his ways: So that here is a capacity that the sons and daughters of men have, through the Mediator of being turned from the evil of their ways and doings, to that which is well-pleasing to God.

The next work, after God hath wrought thus mercifully for the sons and daughters of men, is, that they would be good to themselves, and merciful to themselves, and take pity upon themselves, by a due improvement of the grace, and mercy, and kindness of God, that he hath bestowed freely upon them and in bring all their deeds to that standard, all of their words and actions to that rule; that so whatsoever they may be, or how many soever, if they do not answer that standard and rule, they may deny, withstand and resist them, that so they may keep out of condemnation: for the apostle declared it plainly without scruple, "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." If he had said, "to them that profess Christ Jesus," there had been a large latitude, especially for those nations; but the words are limited, and you will find so; that is, "to them that are in Christ Jesus;" and (as if he should say) that you may know rightly what I mean; "I mean such as walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." They that are in Christ, walk after his Spirit; for, they that walk not after the Spirit of Christ, are none of his; but they that are his, walk after the spirit the spirit of truth, and there is not condemnation to them.

It is not only the scriptures that ratify and confirm this doctrine, but you yourselves all living witnesses of the truth of this, that so far as you do act and speak in obedience to the principle of truth, that God hath planted in you feel no condemnation upon you: "Such a thing I did at such a time, and I had no condemnation." Why so? "Because I did it in obedience, and subjection to that measure of grace that God set up in me;" and, "such a thing I did, for which I was condemned." Why so? "because I did it according to the inclinations of my own corrupt mind, and in contradiction to the truth that opened in me."

My friends, I would have you in point of the doctrine of christianity, to be the better for what you read and hear: It is for me to preach the truth. and you may believe what I say, and you may read the Holy Scriptures, and have the belief of what you read; but if you come to a sensible feeling of the fulfilling of things you hear, you will give a greater seal to the truth of the doctrine, than by all you have read and heard; and you will grow wise to Salvation, by trying and experiencing the effect of everything you understand; and not like the carnal men of this world, they have not faith, that mind only their worldly profits and pleasures, such are earthly, sensual, and devilish; but I would judge of actions and words, according to truth, and according to the effect I find in me. "I did such a thing, and I had peace in the doing of it; I feel no reproach, no condemnation upon me." Here is a way for people to grow up in the life of christianity; to keep to the standard of truth. For whether men will or no, they must do it at last, and may now, if they please, make a trial of their words and actions.

As for the most part of you, you are got past Pilate: Pilate could make that enquiry, what is truth? saith he. And I confess, it is not long ago, it is within the memory of man, that a more serious and better sort of people were confounded with the darkness and ignorance of those times, that they were ready to cry out, what is truth? and where is truth? Their eyes were so blinded, and things were so jumbled and confused by the disputations that men raised, that made things os dark people could not see their way. But God who hath commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath brought a glorious day; hath dissipated, and scattered, and driven away a great deal of that [darkness] and mist, that did overspread men's minds. As many as have sincerely sought the truth in the inward, they have found a divine principle of truth, that hath a self-evidencing quality in itself, to convince the minds and consciences of the sons and daughters of men, that it is the truth: And to this the Lord hath brought most of you, to be sensible of something that is truth in itself. There are many things that are true in the words of them; many true expressions; but there is truth in itself, the essential truth of God, which, as it is in God, is everlasting and eternal, and will stand over all errors, and falsehood and deceit. The truth, as it is in Christ Jesus,, is a standard and rule for men to act by; he hath given it to the sons and daughters of men; and as it appears in them, it is either a Judge to condemn them, or a Saviour to save them from their sins, and to justify them.

Now, that which concerns us, is to find out the measure of truth, or manifestation, or principle of truth, which it hath pleased God to reveal in ourselves: And whosoever will turn their minds a little while inward, into the serious search and consideration, how the Lord hath dealt with them, they will find they are not quite destitute of truth. One that makes his practice to lie, cheat and cozen, is not utterly destitute of truth; for there is a principle of truth in him, that doth check and reprove him for his theft, lying, and falsehood, and he lives under condemnation himself. He cannot draw near to the God of truth upon any occasion, but his lying and falsehood stand in his way. Now, if so be, that this liar is made sensible of a principle of truth in him, and do but bring his words and actions to the truth, so much of it as he knows will make him leave lying and deceiving, and to practice truth to escape condemnation; if he will but leave lying and falsehood, and live in the truth, and speak the truth to his neighbor, he will find another state, condition and frame in his soul, than there was before. He is now more at peace, and hath a clear and serene way, to come to God by prayer, and for pouring out his supplication, which he had not before; for he had barred up his own way by his sin, which lay continually at his door; if thou dost not well, sin lies at thy door, saith God to Cain: So, when you do evil, you cannot but know it; when you are drunk, or swear or tell a lie, and deceive you neighbour, and carry on the design for sinful profit, thou knowest it, whether men know it or no, and God that made thee knoweth it; and there sin lies at thy door, and blocks and bars thee out, and thou canst not offer thy prayers to God with that clearness, as if thou hadst spoken the truth: So that it highly concerns every one of us, to be waiting upon God, for the discovery of his truth to us; and then we must embrace, adhere and join to the truth, as our chiefest good.

But some will say, this adhering and joining to the truth, is a hard lesson: It is pretty easy to find out a principle of truth, that standeth against, and opposeth all manner evil: Very few, now a-days, will deny a settled principle of truth in all men, that judgeth falsehood, and condemneth deceit, and witnesseth against it in others, and in themselves: But this same joining, and adhering to it, that cannot be done, without a cross to the carnal mind.

Now, if the cross of Christ be not taken up, there is no good christianity among us. Where this is neglected,, it spots and stains the profession of Christianity. It is so directly opposite to the doctrine of Christ: "he that will be my disciple, must" if is not, he may if he will, but, he "must take up the cross" of Christ and follow HIM. [They] were a sort of people, that were never [likely] to be made Christian, that [wanted to] be exempt from taking up a daily cross; therefore he presseth it upon them to deny themselves, and take up his cross and follow him. No man is [able] to live a Christian life, without taking up a daily cross.

Now...when a light is broken forth, and men have a principle of truth in their own hearts, it comes to this; saith one, "I ought to be holy, in all manner of conversation, and to be watchful over my words, and have my conversation honest and just, without deceit. See what a deal I know, yet I can never live this life, for all I know it so well; I cannot take up a daily cross, which is so much against the contrary inclinations working in me. Then the question I put to myself is, shall I take up a cross or no?

Here it comes to the point with every man or woman, after they come to the knowledge of this standard of truth. If the world would but come to this rule and standard, there would be no more cheating nor cozening, no more fraud, deceit or dissimulation nor war and bloodshed; but if men would, in everything they do, answer the principle of truth in themselves, they would put the question to themselves, shall I take up my daily cross, or no? Shall I deny myself those pleasures that my conscience doth condemn; and those ungodly gains that I seek after by falsehood, by lying, prevaricating and departing from the truth? Shall I do this, that I may be rich and great in the world, or shall I not?

You know what I say, many of you, and have put this question to yourselves, and some have made a good answer to it: "I will take up my daily cross, by the grace of God; this stand of truth shall be the rule of my words and actions to my dying-day."

They that have learned this lesson, and obtained peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, they have not only made a resolution, but performed it in act and deed. By the power of Christ's cross, they are purified, and sanctified, and washed from their old conversations, and have their conversation in heaven; that is, live after a heavenly life, live a godly life here upon earth, when they have come to this resolution, and also the practice of it.

I would desire, and it is my labour, that you that hear me this day, who are unaware of what I am speaking, viz. The STANDARD OF TRUTH, the principle of truth, that unerring Guide, which is placed in the conscience of every man, and justifieth, or condemneth, his actions and words. You who are come to be aware of this, that you may all come to this godly resolution in yourselves, I would have this dispute carried on in every one's bosom. When the question is stated, I would have your really answer it; shall I guide my actions and words according to this unerring rule, or no? "I cannot tell what to say," say some, "there is danger in it." What danger can there be to answer that which a man knows to be truth? I will tell you what danger. The world is perverse, and most men live out of truth, and the Devil is a cunning adversary, and he would have none live in it. He abode not in truth; and he would not have us live in it, nor regulate our words and actions by the truth in our own souls. What is most men in the world pervert the truth? What if so few walk in the narrow way, and so few come to life eternal; is than an argument that I must not come there? should it not stir me to greater diligence, that by any means I may be of the number of that few that shall obtain salvation,a nd not go with a great company in the way that leads to destruction? If we improve our times, and seasons, and opportunities, and mercies, and blessings, that are vouchsafed to us, we at last may obtain life eternal.

But some may say, "I must sit down in despair, for I cannot come thither of myself, though I do what I can to work out my own salvation. There is a decree against me; what, tho' I should pray ever so much,a nd spend my nights in grief and sorrow? If I be decreed to eternal damnation, there is not help for me, no hope that I should escape. and if I be decreed to salvation, though I take my liberty to sin, and be loose and wanton, as others, it cannot hinder me from attaining salvation at last."

For this reason, many have laid aside the spiritual warfare against corruption, and their spiritual travel, that they will no nothing in to [gain] their everlasting happiness; therefore they think they had as good take their pleasure. But, my friends, the case is not not so with us; let every soul among us praise the Lord for his mercy, in expelling that thick cloud of darkness, which is vanished and gone. This I know, and I hope you do all believe, that God doth every where, and in every nation, call sinners to repentance, and that he delighteth not in the death of him that dieth, but rather that they would turn and live; and in order thereunto, he hath given his Son, Jesus Christ, to be a Saviour and Mediator; and he hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, to give direction to us in our own way. Now our duty is, to make improvement of those visitations of mercy, that God hath bestowed upon us, in order to our salvation, and not live in rioting and drunkenness, chambering, and wantonness, strife, and envying, and following the fashions of the world. But we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

But some will say, "is this not already wrought by our Saviour and Mediator? Christ has tasted death for every man, and laid down a price for the soul of every man."

But yet there must be a change wrought in us; there must be a translation of our souls, from one state to another. This is called in the scripture, regeneration, and being born again; this is called a being baptized into Christ, and described also by other expressions. But the matter is, to change thy life; for there is a sinful source of wickedness, that is stirred up by the motions of the powers of darkness, and our own concupiscence; but God is always ready to bring us under the government of his Holy Spirit, that will lead us into all truth; and this cannot be done without a Cross. But the question lies here, "shall I take up this Cross or no? If I do, it will crucify me to the world. Let me see, how much do I love the world? A great deal. but do I love the world better than my own soul? What will it profit me, to gain the whole world and lose my own soul? Or what shall I give in exchange for my soul? I cannot get to heaven without denying myself; let me take care of my immortal soul. I am a poor creature; I will serve the Lord my Maker, and make it my business to glorify and please him. He can snatch me away by death when he pleaseth; therefor will I labour, that my thoughts, words, actions, and conversation, may answer to that rule that he hath set before me, as a standard of truth, to square and regulate my actions by. I will not live any longer in vanity, as many do; I do not know but my breath may be stopt to-day, before tomorrow; therefore to-day, while it is called to-day, I will hear God's voice, and not harden my heart, but receive that counsel, that is offered to me, for the benefit of my soul. I am bought with a price, I am not my own; I will live to him that died for me: i have more reason to live to Christ, and serve him, that shed his precious blood for the redemption of my soul, and to be subject to him, than to be Christ's enemy, to the price of the power of the air, who rules in the children of disobedience. I will take up a resolution to serve God, but I can do nothing of myself; but the grace of God, which brings salvation. will teach me to deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts, and to live righteously, soberly, and godly; in this present world." Take heed of being deceived and beguiled, for there is no way [that] will bring you to Heaven, but a holy and undefiled way.

Therefore, come and take this standard of truth in your hands, to guide you in your way, that you may neither turn to the right hand or the left: This will shew you the way that you should walk in, and be like a cloud and pillar of fire to the Israelites, in their journey to Canaan, which was a type of Heaven; the cloud they could see by day, and the pillar of fire by night. So this standard of truth will direct you in your travel to the heavenly Canaan. Let this be the rule and measure of your thoughts, words, and actions.

If a workman, that is a builder, hath a rule to work by; if he goes on and never examines his work by his rule, but makes his eye his rule; if he doth not bring this rule to his work every little while, to see whether his work be right; if he worketh on, and never minds his rule, what a sad work will he make. But a prudent skillful workman will say, "I will not trust mine eye too much, but I will look to my rule, my rule will not fail me; if there be bad work, it will discover it to me, that I may mend it before I go any further." Thus a discrete workman will often bring his rule to his work, and use his line and plummet, that he may make it workmanlike. He will say, "if I let my rule alone, and not make use of it, but work as I please, and truth to mine eye, no wonder if I make bad work, and what I build fall down again, and tumble about mine ears."

You to whom God hath given the standard of truth, as a rule and measure to govern you thoughts, words, and actions by, let every thing be tried with it, before you die, and leave this world. If you do so, and make this your daily practice, then ask yourselves, and you will be able to tell yourselves, and tell me, and say, "I have now obtained more hopes of God's favour, and a greater sense of his live and goodness to me, than ever I had before." The apostle doth exhort us, "to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming our time." We have spent a great deal of time in vain, let us now be wise, and improve our time, for our eternal advantage; let us walk circumspectly, that is, look round about us, consider our ways, and try all our thoughts, words and actions, but the standard of truth. To-day (my friends) while it is called to-day, hear the voice of God, and harden not your hearts, and receive the heavenly counsel, that is tendered to you, that you may be partakers of the inheritance, among the saints in light.

The Prayer

Blessed and eternal Father! thou hast brought forth thy glorious name, and revealed thy power and thy mighty arm; and thou hast caused remnant to bow and worship at thy appearance: Thou art wonderful, thy majesty is great; they that do behold thee, will, with reverence, worship before thee. Thy power is gone forth, and hath reached the hearts of thy people; thou hast humbled them, and subjected them to thy Divine, Almighty Power, that they might appear in the earth, to the praise and glory of thy great name.

And, O Lord, as thou hast begun a great work in the earth, so thou hast committed this work to thy servants and children that bear thy name among the sons of men, that they should shew forth thy righteousness, among the inhabitants of the earth; and our souls have said many a time, who is sufficient for these things? All our fitness and sufficiency, our meetness and preparation is from thee: Do thou reveal thy power, and make bare thy Almighty arm. We have found thy presence from day to day, and thou hast beheld them that know thy love.

O glorious God of life! herein we have encouragement to go in the work which thou hast called us to; hereby we are enabled to worship before thee, and to offer up living praises unto thy great name, for that refreshment and consolation, which thou hast ministered unto thy people.

And, O Living Father! we have never waited on thee in vain; whensoever we have met together in thy name, we have found thy Divine Presence, and the opening of the treasure of thy love, of thy wisdom, and of thy favour to thy children. So that from day to day, and even at this day, thou rememberest thy people, and thou givest them fresh occasion to draw night to thee, and receive their daily nourishment and strength, from the operation of thy power.

O living God of Life! gather up the hearts of thy people more and more, and draw them into a nearness to thyself, that their understandings many be more and more opened to discern thy will, and subject themselves to thy wisdom, that every thought that is exalted against thy divine power, and living voice, in their own consciences, may be brought down; that so all the nations of the earth may bow before thee; that so thy truth may reign, and thy power be exalted, and the righteousness which thou hast revealed, may shine forth more and more, in the brightness and glory of it, and enlighten those that are afar off, that they may be brought to seek after God.

And, Living God of Life! let those that are bowed down under the weight of sin, be supported and raised up; and those that are weary and heavy laden, let them have rest to their souls.

Powerful God of Life! keep thy people in a fresh and living sense of thy love, and of thy heavenly virtue, but which thou nourishest they children, and satisfiest them from day to day; not only when they are met togather, but when they are separated one from another. Let thy people be preserved from the evil of the world, while they are in it, and let thy wisdom and power give them victory over it, that thou mayest have the glory of all the mercies and blessings, vouchsafed to them. For thou alone art worthy, who art God over all, blessed forever, and ever. Amen.