A Sermon and Prayer Delivered by WILLIAM SAVERY, On the Evening of the 11th of 7th Month, 1797; No Place Given.)
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 Sermon:

I humbly hope it is right and meet at this time, to remind you of a passage that closely engages my mind: it is what our blessed Lord and Saviour said to those Jews that believed in his name: "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32.)

I do not possess a hesitating mind at this moment, to declare as my belief, that there are here a large number present, who are in the same circumstances as these Jews were of old, who, through the revelation of God's mercy in their souls, have believed on his Son Jesus Christ. And Oh! are there any among us that are looking for salvation, by or through any other name, or any other power, but by and through the name and power of Jesus? Methinks I hea r thy soul say with gladness, he is the way, the truth, and the life; and that there is no other name given under heaven, whereby men can be saved, but by the name and power of Jesus. (Acts 4:12.) I sincerely wish you all joy, not only in believing, but also in obeying the manifestation of that divine word, which, in all generations, has been as a light to the feet, and as a lamp to the path, (Psalm 119:105) of the truly wise and chosen of God, who now make up a part of that holy, living army, gathered out of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, who are now surrounding his throne and offering incense to him. You that have believed on him, are highly favoured indeed, and are longing to be sealed: you have beheld the inestimable privilege that his true disciples enjoy; he has caused you to long after this -- for the increase and the desire after the perfect blessing. And there is a neccessity for you and for me to remember, that it is only in him and by him that we stand. Many have begun well, and done well for a time: they have manifested great love for the saints, they have rejoiced in the truth for a season; but when tribulation, and persecution, and and suffering, for the name and testimony of Jesus came, they have returned again to the world. Many of these people would be willing to obtain an everlasting crown without filling up their measure of suffering with Christ; and these, not having continued in his word, have turned aside and rejected their first love, their Master, Lord, and King, as being a hard master.

We may remember reading of many that kept following him for a season, who, when he spoke of what was to be accomplished, immediately they heard these things they followed him no more. But I believe, there are many of you, that can adopt the language of those that remained following our Lord and master, when he turned round to them of old, and said, in a complacent manner: "Will ye also go away?" They replied "To whom shall we go, Lord; for thou hast the words of eternal life." (John 6:67.)

Well, my fellow-travellers, both young and aged; you that have early believed in Christ, and long to be his disciples indeed; you who are continuing in the world, be strong, hold fast the profession of your faith, without weariness, nothing doubting. Sufficient is the power of him who taught us the way to glory, immortality, and eternal life, that through him you may come, from one degree to another, to know the truth as it is indeed in Jesus -- to know and enjoy that glorious and blessed love, which the children of God, who are faithful to him, are always privileged to enjoy. And a blessed liberty it is, to those who have enlisted under the banner of Jesus Christ; who came into the world to open the prison door, and let every captive go free; who proclaims the day of liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison door to them that are bound. (Isaiah 61:1; see also Luke 4:18, Luke 7:22.)

We have, many of us, occasion to remember the days of heavy bondage, under, the most unfeeling tasks-master -- the days of ignorance, the days of darkness, the days of spiritual death, in which the Lord visited our souls when we were afar off -- when we did not seek him; for the declaration is fully accomplished, "I was found by them that sought me not." (Isaiah 65:1; see also Romans 10:20.) So it has been with many of us, when we were treading out of the Lord's ways, and wandering in the broad ways of sin and iniquity; the Lord has been mercifully pleased to meet us in our own way. He has arrested us suddenly, when some of us were pursuing, with all eagerness, those pleasures, those enjoyments, which lead the soul from God, and finally will conduct it down to the chambers of death.

Well; it is a great mercy to be thus arrested, and to have our eyes to see and behold where we are; for where the Lord, in infinite mercy, does condescend to enlighten the understanding. It then may be said, blessed are your eyes, for they see; blessed are your ears, for they hear; and blessed are your hearts, for they understand. (Matthew 13:16.)

Well, friends, the language of our blessed Redeemer lies on my mind, may you be enabled to lean on his divine assistance. "What I say to you, I say to all: Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." (Matthew 21:46.) There is no such thing as pursuing the Christian path, without this daily exercise; but while we maintain watching and prayer, there is no danger to be feared, from man or the power of man, nor will the unrighteous be able to draw such aside: he has chosen them. "But I have chosen you." (John 15:16, 19; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; see also 2 Chronicals 29:11.) It is of God's mercy. He has chosen you and ordained you, that you should go forth and remain active. We ought to experience a going forward in our journey -- bringing forth fruit, then should we have the enriching reward of living by the fruit. I am persuaded, my friends, there are some not far from me now, whom the Lord keeps continually in his work, and he designs to manifest greater things to them yet. He has delivered a number of you from the power of darkness, though not of the same name as I am of, as to profession of religion. I am convinced, and know, that the day of Christ advances; and if you continue in righteousness, you will witness it to become brighter and brighter. You may have seen the first glimmering of the morning light, but the Lord does not design to leave you here, but to lead you as a shepherd leads his flock, gently along. He led his followers in the beginning, as they were able to bear: he said to them: "I have many things to tell you, but ye are not able to bear them now." (John 16:12.) For such is the mercy and goodness of God, that he feeds his children as a shepherd does his flock, with food convenient for them. Perhaps the immediate transition from unutterable darkness and death, to a state of full meridian light of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the soul, would be almost too great for human nature to bear with; and, therefore, he condescends to lead us step by step. There is the state of children in Christ - there is the state of young men, the state of strong men; and there is another state, which the Lord grant we may all finally attain, through his mercy, and that is, being made pillars in the Lord's house, to go out no more at all. Oh that all of us may be found clothed with his righteousnesss, having the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation; that all the fiery darts that may be hurled against us, may neither hurt nor wound. (Ephesians 6:10-20.) Oh! my friends, let us so run, that we may obtain the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus. (See 1 Corinthians 9:24.) Do not let us be double-minded. My mind seems very much indeed drawn with sympathy, towards the children of our heavenly Father, and I wish for their preservation, both on the right hand and on the left; that we may, with a true heart, follow on to know the Lord Jesus. Do not let us be looking too much to outward things, and wanting, as it were, mountains to be removed; remember how the prince of darkness assailed even your Lord and Master, when he said to him: "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Remember what the Lord said to him: "It is written, that thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God; but him thou shalt worship, and him only shalt thou serve." (Matthew 4:1-10, Luke 4:1-13.)

I believe, you have no need to dispute of being called of God, and also of being the chosen of him, if ye abide in that work which is necessary for all saints to do in their day and place. Our Lord says: "I am the vine, and ye are the branches; and as the branch cannot have root except it abide in the vine, so neither can ye, except ye abide in me." (John 15:5.) Well,what is this abiding in Christ? Why I believe, my friends, it is this. There are some who have found him in sincerity -- they have found him, of whom both the law and the prophets have written -- they have found him in reality, to their souls' delight - they have known the promise fulfilled in these gospel days, which the Lord declared should come to pass: "In these days I will work a work in them, and dwell in them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God."(40) They have known the Lord and nothing else. There is no other power can raise the dead to life; and I believe it is as great a miracle to raise those that are dead in trespasses and sin to newness of life, and to bring them into the enjoyment of that life which is hid with Christ in God, as to raise the natural body from the grave. So that if we are in the least convinced of this, we see that miracles are not ceased; for every soul that has been truly converted to God -- every soul that has been dead in trespasses and sin, and has had it made known to him by the mighty power of God, that he is really so indeed, and has been livingly converted, he is a standing miracle of the power of God.

For no man can, by human reason, nor by any conclusion of his own, prescribe rules to attain this heavenly blessing: we may sit down as long as we will, and take certain rules and modes to walk by, and wherein we ought to avoid the snares and temptations which may annoy our passing along; but we shall most assuredly find that, without the revealed power of God for our help, all these resolutions will be nothing more than characters written in the sand, that a strong and powerful wind of temptation will carry away, and we shall, of course, go with the stream.

Oh! my friends, let us continue in that word which called us to life, whose power will continue the enjoyment which the apostle speaks of: "And though we have this treasure in our earthen vessels, that the sufficiency of the power is of God, and not of us." (2 Corinthians 4:7.) That will, my Christian friends, ever keep a Christian traveller humble. It strips every one of all self righteousness; for we have only Christ our righteousness, and we have no righteousness but that which we receive: we have no proprietary in it at all. We must wait for it, and the Lord must grant it us in his own way and time. And the true Christian spirit, is a humble, waiting spirit, with an eye single to the glory of God. For, if thine eye be single to God, thy whole body shall be full of light; but, if thine be evil, then thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If thou art not looking to the author and finisher of faith, but some other way: if thy thoughts are scattered here and there, and looking outward for any thing to relieve thee, then, instead of attaining light, thou gettest darker and darker. And if those that were once light, become dark, Oh! how great is this darkness; and the Lord suffers them to dwell in this darkness, and the last state of these men is worse than the first. This I am bold to say, as my belief. So that the church of Christ has never had greater enemies than those, who, having tasted much of the Lord's mercy, and being in some degree enlightened; yet they in the end have proved unfaithful, and turned their backs upon him, like Judas. I wish, with all my heart, you, my dearly beloved in the Lord, both male and female, may hold on your way. Stand ye fast in the glorious liberty wherewith Christ has made you free; let no man draw you back again to the yoke of bondage; keep your place, and keep fast where the Lord has brought you. He will lead you more and more into the glorious manifestation of his power. Why, this has been the way in all generations. We need not be over busy, or over anxious about it, if we abide in the truth; ever looking to him, saying in our hearts, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10, Luke 11:2.) If we can truly come to this state, with all the powers of the soul, then I can say the soul's redemption is half done already; the work is half gone through, which our souls long for. Notwithstanding, I believe there is no perfection here; and the highest state of men and angels, is that of coming to God in humble resignation; and he has said, "Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37.) Oh! let us continually watch and pray. My dearly beloved brethren and sisters, I longed to see the countenances of you once more, before I left this favoured city; I longed to see many of you that I now see, that we might take counsel together -- that we might go up to the house of the Lord together -- that we might renew our covenants, and that it might be an evening never to be forgotten, nor ever to be repented of, either in time or to the endless ages of eternity. Then will it be an anointing from the Lord, to you and to me, if we keep on; and, having the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation, (Ephesians 6:11-20) we shall show forth what the Lord has done. My dear friends, I feel a loving invitation towards such of you as have not been favoured to come to a resolution to serve the true and living God, with all your time, talents, and substance. I want some of these to draw nigh, and partake of the Lord's mercy; who is in this day, in a marvellous manner, stretching forth his arm, to encircle thousands, and tens of thousands, within the glorious fold, where he feeds his flock, where he causes them to lie down, and where none are able to make them afraid.

Oh! my Friends, the Lord's power is revealed through many infirmities: there is not one jot or tittle of it, I believe, will fail, or not be accomplished, which has been spoken by his prophets. Many of the prophecies are clearly and literally accomplished already; and the Lord is graciously, in the present day, investing his power with his servants, for the fulfilling his prophecies. Even the Ethiopian is stretching forth his hand to God and his Christ; they are drawing nigh, and the coming in of the nations appears to be hastening. I do not wish, by any means, to soar in flights of imagination; but I think I have been with many pious Christians who really are convinced it is so.

Oh that we may, when we are favoured with the spirit of prayer and supplication, at the throne of grace, pray to go forward, that we may experience that glorious and blessed day. Our days are passing on; a few more years over many of our heads, and our sun must set -- the curtain of the evening Will be drawn between us and all visible things. A day of prosperity is hastening on, a thousand times more glorious than the enjoyment of all temporal blessings. A day is coming, when it will be said, time is no more; and then all these things which perish with the using, will be nothing more than a clod of earth, all the enjoyments of this earth having passed away. But if you are found at the throne of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ will give you a crown of glory, forever incorruptible, that will never fade away, and where there will be no room for sorrow. And I am persuaded, that a true Christian, passing from a state of mortality to a state of immortality, may be a little compared to passing out of a dark into a glorious, dignified mansion: it is a light inconceivable, and glory inexpressible. He brings them here, in this state, to know that, if they keep the commandments which have been given to them, having been favoured to put on Christ, that he will receive them in his Father's mansions, where he is gone before them. There is no doubt of it. To these, death has no terror; the sting of death having been drawn.

My beloved friends, let us, with one accord, draw nigh, and receive the cup of blessing from the hand of our merciful God, and take it with thanksgiving; let us unite, with one accord, with one heart, and one mind, in saying to him, "Lord, here am I: do with me what seemeth good in thy sight, only suffer me to be a disciple of thine." It is this, indeed, will draw down the blessing, to you -- it would make you disciples indeed; and you would know the truth, and the truth would make you free. It would bring you into that glorious liberty which the sons of God enjoy, through his divine favour: it would set you free from the yoke of bondage, which many of you are brought into; for, indeed, the whole creation are under these yokes of bondage. Christ is the appointed Saviour and Deliverer. Come, my brethren and sisters, enlist yourselves, in your various situations and capacities, with one accord, under the all conquering captain of our salvation; who will lead you forth conquering and to conquer; who is saying at this time, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out; and none shall be able to pluck them out of my hands."

The Prayer

Oh Lord God of mercy, thou art one common Lord of all thy people, and thy children cannot do less than adore and magnify thine unutterable love: thou, who art stretching forth thine arm all the day long, to bring back all that have strayed from under thine holy protection and defence, and who are wandering in bye-ways and crooked paths, which, if continued in, will finally end in unalterable separation from the glory of thy presence. Oh Lord, there are those in this assembly, and thou seest them, who feel they are unworthy of thy gracious dealings, and they approach thee with blushing of face only. Oh Heavenly Father, confiding in thy gracious promises, we are emboldened to draw nigh, and intercede for a blessing upon the present evening; that those whom, in the riches of thy mercy, thou hast been pleased to bring as from a distant country, from a land of darkness and of death, to behold the glory of the gospel of thy dear Son, our Redeemer; that those, Oh Heavenly Father, may think of renewing the covenant which they have made, to follow thee wheresoever thou art pleased to lead them. Oh Holy Father, thou knowest that none are able to keep their covenant with thee, but as thou art pleased to assist them by the same power which at first enabled them to make covenant with thee. Continue, Oh Lord, we pray thee, to be our protector and defence on every side. Suffer not one of those who have believed on thy name, to halt in their minds, or to turn aside after less and inferior things; and thus to forfeit that glorious and incorruptible crown, which thou hast laid up in store for those that continue following on to know thee, whom to know is eternal life. Oh Holy Father, enlighten them day by day, enlarge their hearts, that they may know more and more of the glorious mystery of thy kingdom; pour forth, we pray thee, thy loving and abundant kindness, that they may more and more, with holy confidence, be enabled to go on their way rejoicing in the Lord. Oh Father, we pray thee, be with us in the hour of temptation: suffer us not to fall: let thine arm be around us. Oh glorious Lord, be near unto us, that, through thy great and good Spirit, we may, after having done all, stand fast in the glorious liberty, for which, through thy dear Son, thou art preparing us. (Ephesians 6:10-20.) We commend our cause to thee, knowing that thou art able, and hast given a promise, to keep thine own wheresoever they are; whether assembled, or separated from each other. Blessed Father, as thou art pleased to call thy servants to labour in thy vineyard, we humbly pray thee, be mouth and wisdom, strength and utterance, to all, from season to season, of every name in thy professing church; that so they may preach thy word with the demonstration of thy Spirit, and with power; that many that are afar off, being baptized under the renewed influence of thine Holy Spirit overshadowing the assembly of thy dear people, may be brought in unity with all the ransomed race; that, casting down every high thought, and every lofty imagination, their souls may exult in living accents of praise, glory, and honour, to thee, the Lord God and the Lamb, who livest and reignest for ever and evermore. Amen.