S E R M O N S
That Eminent and Faithful Servant
of JESUS CHRIST, Mr.
JOHN WELCH, sometime
Minister of the Gospel in AIR.
THERE are but two Things especially that dishearten and faint the Child of God in the Time of his Pilgrimage here; First, There is the Corruption of Nature within him, which hindereth him to honour the Lord in the Strength of his Heart, and with Freedom of Spirit, as he desireth to do, and which gars [makes] him weary of his Life, and compels him to cry out of his Misery, and to wish for a Deliverer that would make him quit of his natural Life, which is a Body of Death, that he might be dissolved, and that Sin might cease in him, and here the Example of it: A Man sold under Sin, that he could not get Leave to do the Thing he would do, but was compelled to do the Thing he would not; a Man who had a Law in his Members rebelling against the Law of his Mind, and leading him captive a Gate [on the way] which otherwise he would not have gone. And this is a Part of all the Saints Case, and ye who are in Christ both see and know this; but as many of you as were never yet brought up in Christ's Kingdom ye know no such Thing; for ye feel not Sin to be a Burden, ye see no Misery, nor ye feel no Battle within you: But it is otherwise with the Children of God; they feel a Battle within them, betwixt the Flesh and the Spirit, and this maketh them to weary of their Life, because they cannot get Leave to serve God as they would, nor in the Truth of their Heart they dow [can] not glorify God. This is the first and Principal Thing that discourages the Child of God, and hinders him most to run his Race with Joy and Gladness.
SERMON XLVIII.The last SERMON preached at Air by Mr. JOHN WELCH, the 23d July 1605, on a Tuesday before Noon, when he was to take Journey to Edinburgh that same Day; and immediately, after his coming there, was commanded to Ward by the Council of Scotland, and conveyed by a Guard to the Castle of Blackness.
Now let the Lord give his Blessing to his Word, and let the Spirit of Jesus, who is the Author of this Verity, come in and seal up the Truth of it in your Hearts and Souls, for Christ's Sake.
ROMANS CHAP. VIII. VER. 1, 2, 3, 4, 18, 37. &c.
There is therefore now no Condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit. For the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, hath made thee free from the Law of Sin and Death. For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the Flesh, God sending his own Son in the Likeness of sinful Flesh, and for Sin condemned Sin in the Flesh: That the Righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit. For I reckon, that the Sufferings of this present Time, are not worthy to be compared with the Glory which shall be revealed in us. Nay, in all these Things we are more than Conquerors, through him that loved us, &c.
The next Thing is, the many Crosses and Afflictions of this Life that follow upon the Back of the Children of God, and this made the Spouse to cry, Cant. 1.4, I am black and Sun-burnt, O Daughters of Jerusalem. This was the Case of the Head, and this is the Case of all his Members, That through many Tribulations they must enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore it hath pleased the Lord to set down here two Consolations, opposite to thir [these] two Discouragements. The one is, There is no Condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. The other is, I count all the Afflictions of this present time not worthy of that Glory which shall be revealed unto us. Suppose thou sinnest daily, yet there is no Condemnation to thee who art in Christ, because the Son of God speaketh for thee because he has died and risen for thee; and as for Troubles and Crosses the Saints are more than Conquerors over them, through him who loved them before the World was; and they are persuaded, that nothing in Heaven or Earth shall be able to separate them from the Love of God in Christ Jesus. And this is shortly the Sum of this Chapter.
Ye that were present here the last Day, heard that there were two Things in this Chapter, 1st, A Consolation to hold thee up, that thou faint not under the Burden of thy Sins; and 2dly, A Consolation to sustain thee, that the Crosses and Troubles of this Life make thee not to weary in thy Pilgrimage, or tire in thy Journey towards Heaven.
As to the First, It is in these Words that I have read, where, First, There is the Consolation itself; and next, The Persons to whom it belongeth. Thou hast need of Comfort who feelest the Burden of Sin, and the Bondage which thy inborn Corruption brings thee into, and the Spirit knoweth this well enough; therefore he who knoweth the Mind of God, and who searcheth the deep Things of God, he telleth to thee what is God's Mind towards thee, and there thy Comfort, that the remnant Corruptions within thee shall never be able to condemn thee. There the Comfort which the Spirit takes from the Father and the Son, and bringeth it to the Law of thy Members rebelling against the Law of thy Mind; suppose it gar [make] thee lead a miserable Life, and suppose it lead thee captive to Sin; yet it shall never condemn thee into utter Darkness.
Now I grant this Consolation is not for every one; for what needeth he Comfort who never was troubled? Because there is a Law in thy Members rebelling against the Law of thy Mind, and leading thee captive to Sin, and gars [makes] thee dishonour God: But this Comfort is only for thee who feelest thyself bound in Fetters, and thou wouldst fain run the Ways of God, but thou dowest [canst] not. And if thou wert without sin, then thou needed not his Voice proclaimed to thee from Heaven; for it is only Sin which bringeth the Fear of Condemnation: But because there is Sin pressing thee down daily, therefore thou hast daily Need of the Consolation of the Spirit. And as for thee that has tasted of a Wrath, and who knowest what it is to be deprived of the Presence of God for evermore, no other Consolation will content thee than this of the Spirit revealed in the Word. But as for thee who wast never burdened with thy Sins, nor with the Sense of Wrath for Sin, other News will stake [support] thee, suppose thou never hearest a Word of a Heaven or Hell, of an eternal Life, or of an everlasting Condemnation.
Mark then: Tell me, what is thy only Consolation in this Life? Is the News of eternal Life, and that thou shalt never be condemned, the only Matter of thy Consolation? This is a sure Token that thou art the Child of God. But if thou canst be content to hear News, concerning the Estate of the Court and Commonwealth, or of the Affairs of the Country, or of Matters touching thy own Calling, and thou wilt never spier [ask] a Word of the Estate of the Church or, of thine own Soul: This is a Token thou wast never in Christ, and there is nothing but Condemnation to thee, except thou be changed, and become a new Creature. But I leave this.
The next Thing ye heard was the Persons to whom this Comfort belongeth. This might be blyth [joyous] News to a World, if it belonged to all; for then might they say, What recks [matters] it what Life I lead, seeing there is no Condemnation to me. No, no, there are Marches and Meithes [borders and boundaries] set down, and there are Marks of them to whom this Comfort belongeth, and they that want thir [these] Marks and are without the Marches [borders], they may make them for the Wrath of God; and if they die so, they are already condemned; for there are Numbers fore-ordained to Condemnation. And trow [think] ye then to step into Heaven so easily? No, ye shall be beguiled; for as there are Sheep, so there are Goats; as there are Vessels of Honour, so there are Vessels of Dishonour; and as there are Vessels of Mercy, so there are Vessels of Wrath: As there is Wheat, so there is Chaff; and as the Blessing shall be given to some; so the Malediction and Curse shall be given to other some.
Now the Persons to whom it belongeth are they that are in Christ Jesus. So then, if thou be'st not in Christ, and within the Compass of that Blood, and a Member of that Body, which was slain on the Tree, and in that Heart which was pierced with a Spear, and in that Flesh which bore the Curse of the Law on that Tree; if thou be not rugged out of Nature, and translated out of the rotten stock of Adam, and planted in the Son of God Christ Jesus; so that his Blood is daily washing thee from thy Sin, and feeding thy Soul, and quenching thy Thirst: If thou have not thir [these] Things, then there is nothing but Condemnation for thee; but if thou be in Christ, then all the rest must follow, and there is a Decree given out from the Throne of God, that there is no Condemnation to thee.
But how shalt thou know if thou be in Christ? I told you, that ye shall know by the Spirit that guideth you. Thou who art in Christ, hast that Spirit of Christ leading thee: By the contrary, thou that art not in Christ, thou hast not the Spirit of Christ; and they who are not in Christ, have no Guide but the Flesh allenarly [only], and they follow that Guide. Now, if thou be'st led by the Flesh, it will never lead thee to Heaven, it will never lead thee to the Tribunal of God's Justice, it will never lead thee to the Sight of thy Sins, nor it will never lead thee to the Blood of the Son of God, for to wash away thy Sins, nor it will never lead thee to the Spirit of Jesus to comfort thee; for the Flesh (as it is within thee) so it will never lead thee out of thyself, nor to the Way of Holiness. So thou shalt know by this, whether thou be in Christ or not; even this, If thou be in Christ, then thou hast the Spirit of Christ. And how shalt thou know the Spirit of Christ? I will tell thee how that is: He will take thee, and lead thee to a clear Understanding of thyself; and he will let thee see, that by Nature thou art a lost Sheep, and a forelorn Son; that thou wilt say, I will die, except I go home to my Father, and I will perish, except I get the sweet Balm of the Blood of Christ, to heal the deadly wound of my Soul. Oh that every one would mark the Work of the Spirit, when he entereth into their Heart: For, who led thee to the Sight of thyself? and who did let thee see thy miserable Estate by Nature? none but the Spirit of Jesus, which the Father sent to thee with this Commission, saying, Break in, and open the Eyes of yon blind Sinner, and let him see what he is, as he is indeed. This is the first Mark of the Spirit.
Next, he will lead thee out of thyself, and he will take thee to Christ, and he will gar [make] thee fall down at his Feet and cry, Have Mercy upon me, thou Son of the everlasting God. So, wast thou ever led by the Spirit with a bleeding Soul to the Blood of Christ, and to the Well of Life? Who led thee there but the Spirit of Christ? And wast thou ever led to the Sheep-fold of Christ? Who led thee there but the Spirit of Jesus? What more?
Thirdly, When he has led thee to the Blood, then he will lead thee out through the Heavens, and thro' the Blood, and in through all to the Love of the Father, which is the Fountain, and to the Ocean Sea of the Love of God; and there thou shalt see the Father loving thee for the Son's sake, or ever the World was made. There thou shall see the Son loving thee freely, because the Father made choice of thee, and delivered thee to him. There thou shalt see, that the Father sent his Son to die for thee, even when thou wast his Enemy, and reconciled thee to himself, by the Death of his Son; and therefore thou dost conclude, seeing that while we were yet Sinners Christ died for us, much more then being justified by his Blood, we shall be saved from Wrath through him, Rom. 5.10. And therefore there is no Condemnation to me. Oh! how blithe mayest thou be, who hast gotten this sealed to thine Heart, that there is no Condemnation to thee, because thou art in Christ.
Fourthly, Thou shalt know the Spirit by the Fruit and Effects of the Spirit. Now, what are the Fruits of the Spirit? They are set down to you in that fifth Chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians, 22d and 23d verses.
The First is Love. And who moved thee to love God and his Saints, but the Spirit of Love himself?
The next is Joy. Gottest thou ever, then, an unspeakable Joy to thy Soul? Who could lead thee to it, but the Spirit of Joy, the Comforter himself?
The third is Peace. So gottest thou ever Peace in thy Conscience, that Peace which passeth all Understanding? Then it was the Spirit of Jesus that led thee to it.
The fourth is Long-Suffering. So didst thou ever bear the Cross patiently? And wast thou ever content to suffer for his Name? And didst thou ever esteem the Rebuke of Christ greater Riches than the Treasures of Egypt? Who could give thee Grace to do this, but he who is the Spirit of all Grace?
The Fifth is Gentleness. Who made thee meek and lowly of Mind, that thou canst willingly put thy Neck under the Yoke of Christ? None but he who is the Spirit of Meekness.
The Sixth is Goodness. Who moved thee to eschew Evil and do Good, and to be ready to every good Work? None but the Spirit of Jesus who is Goodness itself.
The Seventh is Faith. So, Who gave thee to believe in Christ's Death and Resurrection? None but the Spirit of Christ which raised up Jesus from the dead.
The Eighth is Meekness, and the Ninth is Temperance, Who gave thee thir [these] Graces, but the Spirit of Jesus who is the Author of all Grace? So ye shall know the Spirit by the Fruits of the Spirit. Now, because the Time has overshot me; therefore I will but open the rest to you, and so conclude.
Ye see to whom there is no Condemnation; ye see the Mark that they have, is the Spirit of Christ; and ye see the Work of the Spirit, is first to rebuke; and next, to lead thee out of thyself unto the Mediator, and to his Blood.
Thirdly, To convoy thee through that Blood unto the Love of the Father, and to the everlasting Decree of thy Election and Redemption.
Fourthly, It is the Work of the Spirit which bringeth forth thir [these] Fruits in thee, as Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, and Temperance. But the Flesh will lead thee, to Adultery, Fornication, Uncleanness, Wantonness, Idolatry, Witchcraft, Hatred, Debate, Emulation, Wrath, Contention, Sedition, Heresy, and Envy, Murder, Drunkenness, Gluttony, and such like: And so, by the Fruits, thou shalt know which of thir [these] two does guide thee, whether the Flesh or the Spirit.
But you will say, sometimes I have had Love, and Joy, and Peace, and Patience, and Gentleness, and Faith, and all the rest; but oftentimes I find that Flesh has the upper Hand in me, and I am forced to follow it.
I answer, Thou needest not this Consolation, if thou wert quit of the Flesh; but, because thou wilt not be quit of it, so long as thou art in this Life, so, it will ay lie in thy Bosom, to hinder thee from doing good, when thou wouldst do it; therefore, this Consolation is sent to thee who fightest against the Flesh; so if thou followest not the Flesh, thou followest the Spirit as thy only Guide. This is a Token that there is no Condemnation to thee.
Now, because it is hard to ground this into the Heart of Man, which is so subject to Incredulity; and because thou who art the Child of God, if thou hadst but one Desire granted to thee in this World, I trow [believe] thou wouldst ware [spend] it upon this, to have this Consolation grounded and established in thine Heart; therefore the Apostle, in the second Verse, applieth it to himself, as when he speaketh of his Misery, he speaketh of it in his own Person; so when he speaketh of his Freedom, he speaketh of it in his own Person also: Even so thou who art the Child of God, canst speak of thir [these] two Things, thou canst speak of the Bondage and Slavery of Sin that led thee captive unto it; and thou canst speak of the Freedom of the Spirit who set thee at Liberty; thou canst tell that thou hadst Terrours, and Fears, and Torment of Conscience; and thou canst tell that thou hast gotten such Joy, and such Peace of Conscience, that thou couldst step out with it, and take thy Life into thine Hand, and go to the Grave; and thou couldst say with Simeon, Lord, lettest thou thy Servant depart in Peace; for mine Eyes have seen thy Salvation, that's a Token that thou art the Child of God.
Now, the Spirit which lets him see his Misery, the same Spirit lets him see his Freedom; therefore he saith, For the Law of the Spirit of Life, which is in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the Law of Sin and Death; a Law is a commanding Power, grounded upon the Authority of the Law-giver: So by the Law of the Spirit of Life, he meaneth the Virtue and Power of the crucified and risen Lord, who now is living and reigning in Glory; he calleth it a Law, because it commandeth, and it gets Obedience in the Hearts of God's Children, and it commandeth with Authority, and under this Penalty, That I shall die except I give Obedience to it.
Again, The Law of the Spirit of Life, (for there is Spirit and Life in yon risen Lord that died on a Tree, and there is Virtue enough in him to free me from Sin and Death) which is in Christ Jesus, there is no Life in Angels nor Saints that can quicken me, and there is no Spirit that can bring Life to my Soul, but the Spirit of Jesus who once was dead, but now is alive, and reigneth now in Glory, has freed me, I was a Slave to Sin and Satan before; but now the Spirit of Life, which is in yon crucified and glorified Lord, which I have apprehended by Faith, has freed me from this Slavery; so that now I am made a free Burgess of that new Jerusalem, from the Law of Sin. The Law of no Prince, got never such Obedience of no Subject in the Land, as Sin got of me in all the Members of my Body, until I looked to yon crucified Lord, and to his Death and Resurrection; then it commanded me, and I obeyed it; it promised, and I believed; it threatened, and I left off: So, I was before a Slave sold under Sin; but now, Sin, thou mayst well be a Tyrant over me, to gar [make] me give Obedience unto thee against my Will; but thou shalt never get the willing Obedience that thou hadst before. And Death: There are two Deaths, Brethren, the first and second Death; he spake of it in the 1st verse, where he says, There is no Condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus; that is, The Souls of the Elect shall never go where the Souls of the Reprobates go; because the Angels shall wait on the Elect when they die, and shall carry their Souls into the Bosom of Christ, where they shall lie under the Altar, and shall rest there while the Number of their Brethren be fulfilled: But the evil Spirits shall wait on the Reprobates when they die, and they shall take away their Souls to these endless Depths in the Bottom of Hell, where they shall be tormented for evermore.
Now then, thou who art in Christ shalt never taste of the second Death; but as to the first Death, how art thou freed? I answer, Thou art freed from the Curse, and from the Sting of Death; so that thou mayst step on the Back of Death, and go into that endless Glory: Therefore, this first Death is no Death to thee who art in Christ, but rather an Entry, or Passage, or Port to eternal Life. I will say but this to you, if thou wouldst be sure to be freed from Death, then thou must first be freed from Sin, by the Law of the Spirit of Life; and thou must know who it is that brings this Freedom to thee, to wit, the Lord Jesus only. Now I shall end.
But this I leave with you, even my Testimony of this Truth, written and sealed here by the Holy Ghost; and what is that? Ye are all of two Sorts, and ye are all going two Ways, and ye have but two Guides, and ye will all come to two sundry Places. I will make this more plain to you; some of you are in Christ, and ye are walking in the Way to Heaven, and to the Son of God now reigning in Heaven, and at the Right-hand of his Father's Majesty; and some of you are yet in yourselves, and in Nature, for ye were never in the Son. Now, ye who are in Christ, and walk toward Heaven, you have the Spirit of Jesus to be your Guide, and the Gate [way] that he guides you is, 1st, To the Sight of thy Sin and Misery. 2dly, He will lead thee unto the Blood, and to the Mediator, and to the Throne of Grace, that there thou mayst find Grace and Mercy in Time of Need. 3dly, He leads thee in through the Blood, to the Love of the Father, who sent his Son to die for thee, when thou wast his Enemy; to the Love of the Son, who, by his Death, reconciled thee unto God, and saved thee from Wrath; to the Love of the Holy Ghost, who came from Heaven to thee, to tell the glad Tidings of Salvation to thee. Last of all, He bringeth forth good Fruits in thee; as, Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, &c. and ye, who are in your selves, have nothing to guide you, but the Wisdom of the Flesh, which is Enmity to God; take no Thought for the Flesh, saith the Spirit; but the Flesh will say the contrary: So the Spirit draweth thee one Gate [way], and the Flesh draweth thee another Gate [way]. Now, thir [these] two Gates will have two sundry Ends, far different from other; for as there is a great Difference betwixt thee who art in Christ, and thee who art in the Flesh, thee who art in the Way to Heaven, and thee who art in the Way to Hell; now, as there is a great Difference in all thir [these]; so there is a great Difference betwixt them in their Ends, in their Resurrection, and in their future Judgment, which is to come in the End.
Thou who walkest after the Spirit, as thou livest in Christ, so thou shalt die in Christ. Therefore I leave with thee this Testimony, which I have from God in his Word, That thou who art led by the Spirit of Jesus in the Course of thy Life, thou shalt die in Christ; and thou that art in thyself, if thou abidest so, (for God forbid that I should conclude the Reprobation of any of you) thou mayst turn to God, and the Lord may soon, and in an Instant change thine Heart, and a Voice of the Son of God, can, at a Word, raise thee from Death, and out of the Grave of Sin; and thou mayst be in thyself, in Nature, and in the Flesh, now this Morning; yet who can tell but thou mayst be in Christ ere the Evening: Therefore far be it from me to say of any of you peremptorily that ye shall be condemned. And suppose ye have never yet tasted of the Sweetness of that Blood, yet far be it from me to conclude or say, that ye shall go to Condemnation.
But this I testify to you, and here I open the Gates of the Kingdom of Heaven to thee who art in Christ, and walkest not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit. But to thee who art not in Christ, but in the Flesh, I testify to thee, That as long as thou art in the Flesh, the Gates of Heaven are closed upon thee, and the Gates of Hell are open to thee. Therefore, my Brethren, I say, there are Numbers of you who never yet knew what the Spirit of Jesus is: I say, I will judge none of you, but I would have you judging yourselves that ye be not judged. But here I bear you witness, That if you live in the Flesh, and die in the Flesh, thou shalt never see Heaven. And that ye may not say in that great Day, that ye wanted Warning, therefore here I take the Heaven and the Earth to record, I take thir [these] Walls and Pillars of Stone to record, I take this Sun that shineth yonder, and your own Consciences, to be Witnesses betwixt you and me, that I have told you the whole Counsel of God, so far as he has revealed it unto me; and that now I speak the Truth in Christ and lie not; Thou that livest and diest in the Flesh, thou shalt die in Hell for evermore. Here I bear you witness of this that none of you may say, that I have been a Traitor to your Souls, that I told you not your Danger while I was with you: For why should I be guilty of any of your Bloods? Therefore, suppose ye had never gotten more Warning than at this Day's Preaching, I take Heaven, and Earth, and this House, to be Witnesses, that I am free of your Blood. For I have told you, That if you be not in Christ before ye depart this Life, and if ye remain in yourselves, in Nature, and in the Flesh, ye shall never see Life, but shall come unto Condemnation. By the contrary I say to thee who art in Christ, and walkest not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit; suppose there be a Body of Sin within thee, which leadeth thee Captive many a Time, and suppose there be a Law in thy Members rebelling against the Law of thy Mind, and suppose thou be'st sold under Sin, and forced to do the Thing that thou wouldst not do, and to leave undone the Thing that thou wouldst do; yet I bear thee Record, and take this Consolation to thee, That if thou desirest to walk after the Spirit, and not after the Flesh, I assure thee, thy inherent Corruption shall never be able to condemn thee.
Now, such of you as were never in Christ, nor walked never after the Spirit of Jesus, I beseech you to come to him, and say, Sweet Jesus, Give me a Drink of thy Blood to quench the Thirst of my scorched Soul, and to save me from the Wrath to come; give me a Fill of thy Flesh, that I die not eternally; send down thy Spirit to lead me in that strait and narrow Way which leadeth unto Life; turn me, Lord, and I shall be turned, convert me, and I shall be converted. Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
Now will ye come to him, my Hearts, for I assure you, he is a merciful Lord, and he came to save Sinners, and he has forgiven great Sinners, and he will say to thee, If thou hast been a great Sinner, I will have great Mercy upon thee; and if I have forgiven thee much, then thou wilt love me much.
Now, as for you who are in Christ already, I beseech you be thankful to God, in that he has shewed thee great Mercy, and rejoice in that free Grace of his Son Christ Jesus, who hath bought thee from Sin and Hell, and walk worthy of that Calling of his whereunto thou art called; abide in him, and he will abide in thee; and study daily to make thy Election sure. Use all the Means of his Worship daily, as thir [these], namely, Hear the Word gladly, meditate on it Day and Night; let the Words of Grace be in your Lips, watch and pray continually, and in all Things be thankful; for this is the Will of God in Christ Jesus towards you. Go often unto Prayer, and run with Joy to the Father, and to the Mediator, and to the Blood of the New Covenant, and to Mount Sion, and to the Lamb Christ Jesus: For if thou knewest how pleasant thou wert to him, I am sure thou wouldst take Pleasure to talk with him oftener and longer than thou dost. So thou mayest come when thou wilt, and I know the Father can deny thee nothing that thou wilt ask of him in the Name of his Son Christ Jesus.
And last of all, Forget not the poor Church of God; but thou, who art a Member of that Body, I beseech thee to take Care for the rest of the Members of that Body; pray for it; for I crave nothing of you but Prayer, and we have no other Weapons but Prayer. And pray, That the Lord would arise, and manifest himself from Heaven, and defend his poor Church, and overthrow his Enemies. Now I say no more, but I commend you all to the Blessing of God in Christ Jesus, To whom, with the Father, and Holy Spirit, be all Praise, Honour, and Glory, now and for evermore. Amen.
F I N I S.