A Prayer and Sermon Delivered To The Youth by WILLIAM SAVERY, 6th month 1st , 1797, at Devonshire-House Meeting, London
Five Sermons and a Prayer, Delivered at the Meetings of the Society of Friends in England, by William Savery. Taken in Short Hand by Job Sibley. Newtown, PA: Printed by William C. Coale, 1804.

This is The Quaker Homiletic Online Anthology, Section 2: The 18th Century.

The Prayer

Holy and blessed Father, thou hast been in all generations the joy and consolation of thy humble children, who have sought thee in uprightness of heart. And remembering how rich thou hast been in mercy to us -- how great in condescension, in days that are past and gone, those whom thou hast prepared in this assembly are thereby encouraged to look towards thy holy habitation, and to implore a blessing upon the present congregation now gathered before thee. Thou hast made us, Oh Father, deeply sensible that all our weak and feeble efforts for the promoting of thy glory here upon earth, must he unavailing; for, except thou sanctify the work, except thou art pleased to break the bread and bless it, thy poor servants never have, nor ever can have, wherewith to distribute to the multitude.

Oh holy Father, and Shepherd of this flock, we humbly pray thee to command a holy solemnity, and cause thy powerful voice to be heard in the temple of our hearts; that so, Oh Father, all that is unworthy to be cherished there - every displeasing and unholy thought, may be driven out, and made to vanish at thy glorious and blessed presence.

Thou beholdest us, Oh Lord, surrounded with many infirmities; thou knowest the coldness, the languor, and the insensibility which often take possession of our hearts; thou knowest how prone we are to wander from thee, even in our solemn gathering together; and thou alone art able to prepare thy servants to offer up unto thee a sacrifice in righteousness, of unmixed love, adoration, and praise. Therefore, Oh Father, we beseech thee to look down upon the young of the flock; many of whose hearts thou hast made sensible of thy goodness - who have eat and drank in thy presence, and in their hearts thou hast mercifully pleased to teach the holy and blessed precepts of thy law. Oh Lord, thou beholdest their weakness; thou seest that, in many of them, the remembrance of thy tender mercies are passed too soon away, like the early dew and the morning cloud.

We humbly and reverently pray thee, to cause thy all.powerful word more and more to be heard, that it may effect the glorious work which thou hast designed to bless thine heritage with: so that those who are now present, may be sweetly gathered to thee; and that every high thought, every exalted imagination may be humbled in thy presence. May this, Oh Lord, be a day sanctified unto thyself by many: mayst thou feed them with food convenient for them in their different capacities, and according to their different states and conditions.

Oh Father, we pray thee to look down upon those whom, in thine unerring wisdom, thou hast seen meet to call forth to preach the word of reconciliation to others. Oh Father, thou knowest we have always need of thee. Oh, do thou go before us, in all the various services which thou requirest of us, for the promotion of thy great and glorious cause upon earth. Father, be with us: counsel and teach us what thou wouldst have us to do. Oh teach us what we are to do or to suffer, as thou in thy wisdom may seem meet to provide; that in all things thy name may be glorified, and thy power obeyed: that, whether we are in poverty or riches -whether we abound or suffer want, we may in all things acknowledge thy goodness, and adore the dispensation of thy wisdom. Thus, Father, we would desire to look unto thee, and with one accord(39) confess our own unworthiness for thy manifold mercies that are past, as well as for recent ones, that we have received at thy holy hand; and to acknowledge that thou hast been graciously pleased, from season to season, to cause thy Presence to be known in the assemblies of thy people.

Oh glorious Father, be not only with thy gathered people and church, which thou hast so long been pleased to water, and to send them celestial rain from heaven; but, we humbly pray thee, be with those scattered sheep that may be said to be up and down in the wilderness, who are without delegated shepherds. Oh holy and blessed Father, thou hast many thousand sheep that are not of this particular fold, (John 10:16) and thou seest them in their secret approaches unto thee; thou knowest their description; thou knowest how much some of them have been caused to drink the bitter waters of Marah. Oh suffer us, we pray thee, to intercede on their behalf; that thou, in thy wonted mercy and loving kindness, mayst remember all thy people, and cause them to drink of the fountain of living water, and to partake of that bread which cometh down from thee. Oh, do thou he pleased to bless it to their souls, for their refreshment; that so, Father, those that sit in solitary places, may rejoice in thee, the Lord; that the widow's heart may be made to leap for joy in thy presence; that the prayers and tears of these may ascend up to thee, who rulest in heaven, and in the kingdoms of men; that so thou mayst continue to be a father to the fatherless, a husband to the widow. And, we humbly pray thee, in the riches of thy mercy, to turn the nations that are at war into peace; that so, Oh most glorious Father, the kingdom of thy dear Son, our glorious and blessed Redeemer, may, more and more, be spreading here upon earth; that thousands and tens of thousands may draw nigh unto thee; and that they, with one accord, together with those whom thou hast already gathered into a sense that thou art good, and worthy to be served, worshipped, and adored above all, may take the cup of blessing from thy hand, and render up unto thee glory and honour, thanksgiving and praise, both now and for evermore. Amen.

The Sermon:

In looking round, and casting my eyes upon this assembly, I was ready to say, surely there are hardly any people who are more loudly called upon, frequently and solemnly to say within themselves,

"How much owest thou unto my Lord?" (Luke 16:5)

When I compare the abundant blessings, which have been in so distinguishable a manner poured down upon this part of the Lord's vineyard, with the lot of many thousands that have come under my observation, in the course of the last nine months, I cannot but admire the goodness of Providence. You have not only the comforts but some of you, my young friends, enjoy even the superfluities of this life. How plentifully and how delightfully are you supplied, from time to time, and how carefully are you watched over; so that neither summer heat, nor winter storms are suffered to wound or afflict you: even you, the dear young people of this place, and of this country, while many thousands, and tens of thousands, who are equally the objects of redeeming love with you, and for whom the Saviour of the world suffered and died, are not enjoying, in hardly any degree of comparison, the same blessings which you enjoy. How many poor, of young and tender years, have I seen obliged to turn out, morning after morning, wandering, with the coarsest food and the meanest apparel, over rocks and mountains, with a few sheep; and who have been obliged to lie down, (not in beds of down, nor in ceiled houses, you may suppose,) often with only the naked earth for their bed, and the coarsest of all its productions for their food. And yet, at seasons, I have seen them enter into houses of worship, where there was no priest: (as they were destitute of ministers:) they have prostrated themselves in solemn silence, and, no doubt, (for I am sure I have no doubt of it,) they offered up their acknowledgments of gratitude to God. The sight of their sufferings has often rent my heart; and I have said, how much more occasion have many thousands such as you, day by day, to lift up your hearts, with your hands, to your bounteous Benefactor, in acknowledgment of his unmerited kindness to you: for, where the Lord has done many mighty works, and where he has shown himself in an extraordinary manner, as a bountiful giver of all things richly to enjoy, there is more required of you and; in proportion to the Lord's favours, remember, we are to become his debtors. For what hast thou that thou hast not received from him? Or, who has made thee to differ from another? Is it not the Lord's doings? Is it not from the condescension of him who ruleth in heaven, and over the kingdoms of men? Well, my friends, there were a people formerly, whom the Lord had abundantly distinguished from all the other families of the earth; but many of these turned their backs upon him, and became an ungrateful people: they forgot the Lord's mercies; they turned them into wantonness; they rejoiced not in the gift of his bountiful hand; they did not attribute gratitude to the divine Author of all. So that the inspired prophet, in the name of the Most High, takes up this remarkable language concerning this people: "Hear, Oh heavens, and give heed, Oh earth, saith the Lord: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me." (Isaiah 1:2.) He not only called heaven and earth to witness to their ingratitude, but he called the beasts of the field into comparison with them, in a manner that ought to have made them hide their faces with confusion and blushing, when he said to them, "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but my people do not know me: Israel does not consider." (Isaiah 1:3.) The faithful prophets in that day, were often brought into mourning and lamentation over them: "Oh that my people were wise," said one of them; "that they knew this, that they would consider their latter end; that they would remember what will be the final issue of their departure from the living God." (Deuteronomy 32:29.) Well, my friends, the Lord's arm was again and again stretched forth to that people to save them; "for, as a father pities his children, so the Lord pitied those people." (Psalm 103:13.) And I believe, his pity and compassion are extending now, even to the most ignorant and the most ungrateful, and he is stretching his arm all the day long. Yet he not only, from season to season, stretched forth his arm unto them, to receive them; but he also warned them, that, if they did not keep to him, that, if they turned not away from those things which offended him -- which they loved more than him, that a day of despisal should come. "You have I known above all the nations of the earth, and you I will punish." (Amos 3:2.) Well, friends, it is not often my lot, nor do I believe it will be at this time my endeavour, to deal out amongst you the terrors of the law; but it is my endeavour to hold forth an invitation to you, in the love of the gospel, which I trust I feel amongst you at this time, to query solemnly with yourselves; not only what you owe to so gracious a benefactor, but also, my dear young friends, what you shall render to him for all his distinguished mercies to you. Do you not feel your hearts ready to join in saying, with one accord, Lord, we are unworthy, and thou seest that we have nothing that we can offer: prepare thyself the offering.

My young friends, do not, I beseech you, lightly treat the honest labours of those, who, in obedience to what they believe to be of divine command, have forsaken their pleasant enjoyments in this life, that they may be made useful instruments in the hands of the Lord of Hosts, to the inviting and gathering in of many thousand souls, to turn to him, the Lord, with full purpose of heart. Oh! my young friends, may the goodness of the Lord towards you, lead you to humble yourselves. Do you conceive, my young friends, any one of you, that you have anything to be proud of, because you have been distinguished, from such as I have been speaking of? No, I trust you have more sense; but I know that the deceiver is ever near; and would exalt you -- would raise you up, and set you upon a pinnacle of dangerous honour. Oh! take no delight in these things; for he will tempt you often to look and admire, and perhaps to long after the glory of this world: he will take you up to an exceeding high place, and show you the kingdoms and glory of the world, and he will endeavour to persuade you, as he did my own soul, to fall down and worship him -- to give up your heart to him, and all these things will he give you: that he will bring you into admiration in the world, and he will crown you with earthly glory -- he will favour you with worldly pleasures, and you shall drink of them to the full; only fall down and worship him, and give up your heart to him. (See Matthew 4:9, Luke 4:7.) I know that you are as liable to be deceived as I was, in this manner; therefore, with sympathetic feeling to you, the language of my travailing spirit for you is, that the Lord Jesus Christ may be formed in you; that so his power being known and formed in your hearts, it would break down all the powers of Satan. So that, when you are tempted to look after those things which would lead your hearts further into the favour of them, he will grant you power to resist his temptations, as his temptations ought to be resisted; and if you early receive him sincerely in your hearts, he will cause the language of your soul to be on such an occasion: "Get thee behind me, Satan; for thou savourest not of the things which are of God, but of those which are of men." (Matthew 16:23, Mark 8:33, Luke 4:8.) He will lead thee into solid, substantial peace and happiness, here and in the life which is to come. So that, my tender young friends, let me beseech and desire you in your youth, to choose the paths of light, -- to suffer the Lord's blessed spirit to lead you into the footsteps of the flock of his peaceful company -- into the way that they have trod in all generations and in all nations. It will be happy for you to walk in this way; though this way is often a way of much sorrow, and the entrance to it a cross to flesh and blood. There may be a great many tribulations to pass through, before you come to the enjoyment of that peace which surpasses all understanding. I say, this may be the case; because I know, from some experience, that there are a vast number of tribulations, and a great variety of crosses to be met with, in following our own inclinations; and that Satan is a harder and more cruel master, a thousand times over, than the one I would wish you to be in obedience to. My young friends, how many have suffered him to be a hard master. Have you not known him to be a hard task-master indeed? How has he followed some of you, my young friends of my own sex, after you have been wandering in the paths of licentiousness, - after you have been in the paths of folly and wickedness, for a few hours of what the jovial world calls enjoyment and pleasure? How many bitters are there after one of these revels, to those that are spending their days and their nights in wantonness and rioting! If we could draw the midnight curtain when they are left alone, and if we could be, in the least degree sensible of the feelings that surround them, after they are brought to think of their latter end, and to advert to that silent and certain approaching season, when they must bid adieu to all these things -- I say, if we could look into their breasts at such a season, Oh! we should there see what a hard task-master many of the sons of licentiousness have been serving. Thus we see, that, by every consideration worthy of a rational being as well as of a Christian, (those for whom the glorious and blessed Redeemer of the world suffered and died,) we are called upon, and you are called upon, my dear young friends, now in the flower of life, to give up your thoughts and affections to love and serve God. Above all, gratitude calls upon you: if you love peace and happiness, this calls upon you; and if you look forward to that solemn day that is hastening, if you wish to lay down your head upon your pillow with ease and quietness to the soul when you are about to leave mortality, and when a thousand worlds could not purchase it for you: all these considerations call upon you to love and serve God.

Then, my young friends, resolve to make covenant with the Lord. I am confident you will never find it easier; for every step now is a journey, I am persuaded. But Satan will assault you; and after he has tried you with one temptation to deceive you, he will try you with another, and he will vary his temptations. I believe there is no time of life wherein a true sacrifice is made to the all-bountiful Creator and giver of every good and perfect gift, but it is accepted. Yet those who offer up to him in their youth, morning and night; that resign up their talents, their substance, and all that they have, to him, the the great and glorious giver, will escape many snares, and will finally, most assuredly, attain a crown of eternal glory. Oh! you have many talents: there is a field of labour in the cause of virtue, in the promoting of benevolence, in the happiness of our fellow-creatures. Your talents are exceedingly large and extensive; and if you had more talents and more time than any of you will have, and more of the world's substance to offer on this occasion, I believe, when you come to die, you will see that the peace of God will then crown it into a gladdening hope that a glorious immortality was purchased for you.

Many have passed out of this life with that holy serenity of soul: the Lord has magnified his name in their dying moments. What loud preaching ought it to be to us, when we have seen this -- when we have heard or read of those who have put off their mortal tabernacles, and who were like servants waiting for the coming of the Lord. "Oh," (they have said,) "Lord Jesus come quickly: thy servant is ready;" (Revelation 22:20) and they have said, like Paul: "I long to be dissolved, that I may be with Christ; for he is my joy, he is my hope, he is my everlasting friend." (Phillippians 1:23.) Oh! my precious young friends, prize the privileges the Lord has granted you day by day; redeem the time as it passes along; do not suffer a day to pass over you, without offering up something to God: for if you begin early in this excellent habit of soul, to offer up every day something to God, I believe, that even the least offering that you can offer with sincerity, will be accepted; and all you give, will enrich you more and more. It is the peculiar blessing of those that offer up to God, that all they offer, and all their sacrifices, enrich them more and more. Above all, let me entreat you to be continually mindful of how much you owe to the Lord, that, when you lie down upon your pillow in the evening, you may offer him the tribute of praise and thanksgiving. Oh! my young friends, I hope you love to turn to God at these seasons. What! Do not you pray? Do you not offer up praise? Are there any present that do not? Are there any here, that can pass over day after day, without seriously reflecting on whom they live, move, and have their being, and on what they owe to him? If there be any such, let me entreat it of you that you be so no longer.

Can it be possible to be a Christian without prayer and praise ? No; for as it is the enjoyment of the redeemed and the sanctified spirits in heaven; so, my young friends, we must, in some measure, know it to be the enjoyment of the children of our Heavenly Father, while here upon earth. For if we do not sing the song of Zion and the redeemed upon earth, I do not believe we have reason to hope, we shall be able to join the songs of the redeemed in heaven. Oh! that those who would enjoy what they do, might do what they have to do quickly; for what we do, we must do quickly. No time is to be lost if we would enter into the kingdom of God; (and I believe his blessed kingdom is hastening apace;) - if we would be of his redeemed, and if we would be prepared for the general assembly of saints and angels, cherubims and seraphims, in the kingdom of the Lord and of his Christ -- let us now begin with one accord, and sing praise, glory, and honour, to the Lord God and the Lamb, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.