... Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.—Revelation 15.3.
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 three Things that every one of you that would look for eternal Life, and to be saved from Condemnation, that of Necessity ye must believe. The one is, That ye must know that there is such a Necessity laid on you, that except thou be'st born again, and except the Holy Ghost renew your Soul, ye shall never see the Kingdom of God; and if thou hast but the stony Heart when thou art going to the Grave, which thou hadst when thou wast born, and die so, thou shalt never step into the Yeats [gates] of the Kingdom of Heaven.
JOHN CHAP. III. VER. 17.For God sent not his Son into the World to condemn the World, but that the World through him might be saved.
2dly, Ye must know there is no Way to get your Hearts cleansed, but only by believing in the Son of God; if thou hast the Son thou canst not perish.
3dly, Ye must believe in your Heart that there is a decreed Condemnation, and remediless Vengeance abiding the Soul that believes not in the Son of God. Thou mayst eat, and drink, and sleep, and lie down with Dool and Dolour [grief and sorrow], for thou goest about with thy Condemnation on thy back. There are three Points that the good Shepherd informed Nicodemus of, and he takes him into his School, and gives this to him as the first Lesson; That thou, nor no Man, except thou be'st born again, shall ever tread on the Floor of Heaven. The second Lesson he gives him, is this, Heaven is closed on all Sinners, How wilt thou win in then? I am the Way, I rave [rent] the Heavens at my down coming, and I will rive [rend] the Heavens at my up coming, come thy Way to me, and I will lead thee in. The third Lesson we are commanded to it, and it is this, He that believes not is condemned already; the Halter is about the Neck of him, the Doom is given out, the Sentence is past, God has decreed, and it shall be put in Execution, and this shall be the Cause of their Condemnation, because Men loved Darkness better than Light.
The last Day ye heard, whosoever believes not shall perish. What is that to perish? To be cast from God, from the Air, and from the Earth, and be slung in that bottomless Depth of utter Darkness, where there is nothing but weeping and gnashing of Teeth, and in a Fire that Eternity of Time shall not put an End to it; as the Lord lives, there is an endless Perdition abiding Men and Women, I speak the Truth in Christ, I lie not, there are many Millions of Reprobates crying out of that endless Darkness; and as there is eternal Perdition, so there is eternal Life; but I leave this. There are three Things in this Speech here,
1st, The Confirmation of the Certainty of Salvation to every Believer, that is in the 17th verse: The Certainty of endless Glory to thee that believest in the Son of God.
2dly, There is an Answer to that which the Man had in his Heart to cast up to him, which is this, If that be true that God sent his Son into the World, to save it, What is the Cause that all the World is not saved, but the most Part go to Hell? Thou hast said, Many are called but few are chosen; the Way is broad that goes to Destruction, and many go in it; the Way is narrow that leads to Life, and few there be that enter in thereat: How is it then that thou sayest, God sent his only begotten Son not to condemn the World, but that the World thro' him might have been saved? He answers this, He that believes, is not condemned, but he that believes not, is condemned already; and this is the Cause, that Light is come into the World, but Men love Darkness better than Light, because their Works are evil. These are the Heads; I will come back and handle them severally. He said before in the 16th, verse (I would ye understood the Words of Christ, that they might have the greater Weight in your Hearts, for I am sure they shall either be the Words of Life, or else the Words of Death to you.) He has said before, I say, That God so loved the World, that he sent his only Son into the World, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have eternal Life. Now he says, For God sent not his Son to condemn the World, but that the World through him might be saved. Now this is above Nature, and contrary to all Light within thee; this had been incredible to Adam in his Integrity, and incredible to the Angels, if the Spirit had not persuaded them, that the Justice of another can justify a Sinner, and the Blood of another bring another to Heaven. The Light of Nature tells all Men, if I can pay my Debt, I shall be free of the Prison; but this is above Nature, and this is a Mystery that Nature cannot understand, nor yet believe; but he that is taught of God, he will believe that the Father will take the Justice of the Son, and will impute it to thee that wilt believe, and take that Blood for a sufficient Ransom for so many as will run to the Son; this is hard to us, that sin daily, to believe it, such Sinners by believing shall get eternal Life; therefore he confirms this, and takes his Ground from the Purpose of God, For he sent not his Son to condemn the World, but that the World through him might be saved. O! if it had been the Purpose of God to condemn the World, he would never have sent his Son, but thou that art the profane Dog, lest that thou take thy Advantage of these Words, I will take this Cloak from thee, that thou shalt not go to Hell but with a convicted Conscience; except thou amendest thou shalt be condemned; but thou that believest, shalt never be condemned, says our Saviour: He speaks here of such a Believer, that has his Soul washen in the Blood of Jesus, that suffers himself to be led by the Spirit of Jesus, and lets his Word renew his Heart daily; it is of such a Believer that he speaks here, and not to thee that liest still in thy Sins and yet sayest, thou believest in the Blood of Christ Jesus. The Argument is taken from the sending of the Son; mark here, the Son is a sent Saviour, he had his Father's Commission, and came at his Father's Command, for he came not till he was sent, this is the Will of him that sent me; this may make thy Conscience to be at Peace, that the Son is a sent Saviour, that he has his Commission from the Father; thou wilt not get Comfort enough by believing, but thou must look to him as a sent Saviour, authorized by the Father, and by the Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, says the Lord; he is sent to be a Saviour to thee that believest. Now, if God had been minded to condemn a Sinner that believes, he would never have sent his Son into the World; that was not the Purpose of God to condemn the World, but this is his Purpose, to save all that believes. Would he have made him thy Brother, and to have taken Flesh and Blood from thee; would he have slain him and taken his Blood, if he had been minded to condemn thee that believest in the Son? So for the Certainty of this, that thou that believest shalt never perish, there thy Warrant, God would never have sent his Son into the World, to take thy Flesh and thy Blood, and to be humbled to the very Death of the Cross, if he had been purposing to condemn a Believer; but the Cause wherefore I speak it, is this, That the Papists teach not the Truth of God; thou art a Liar that wouldst teach the Believer and the People, That it is not possible that a Man can be sure in this Life that he shall never perish; thou liest, for the Believer is as sure, that he shall never perish, as the very Angels are sure they shall never perish; God knows if their Conscience were wakened to see God wapping [crushing & casting down] Infants into Hell for their in-born Corruptions, they would never have Joy nor Peace until they were persuaded that they shall never perish. I leave them and speak to you. What greater Argument could the Father give to you of the Certainty of Salvation, than to send his Son into the World, and to take your Nature, and to become your Brother, and be obedient to his Father's Will unto the very Death of the Cross, and be so far humbled as to be laid in the Grave? So this may confirm thee that thou shalt never perish, that believest in the Son.
Now the next Point is the Answer to the Objection. If this be true, that this is the Father's Purpose to save the World, what is the Cause then, that there are so many condemned, and that there are so many called, but few are chosen, and waled out in the Counsel of God to get eternal Life? I grant there shall be many saved, I saw Multitudes standing with Palms in their Hands, clothed in long white Robes, and crying with a loud Voice, saying, Salvation comes of our God that sits upon the Throne, and of the Lamb, Rev. 7. So I grant, there are Numbers that cannot be told, compare them with themselves, he that has the Secrets in numbering, he said, That broad is the Way that leads to Destruction, and many enter in thereat; but strait is the Way that leads to Life, and few there be that go in there. What is the Cause then that so many perish? He answers, The Cause is not in him, but the Wyte [blame] is in Men themselves, for never a Believer yet perished; there the Gloriation of Abraham, and the Fathers, We believed and are saved: He says, He that believes is not condemned. How is that? May he not be condemned? No; for in the very Moment of his believing, he is absolved from all his Sins, and in that Hour that he touches the Blood of the Son, the Father absolves him; therefore the Apostle says, Now therefore there is no Condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the Flesh but after the Spirit: so there the Mark of them that are past all Peril of Condemnation, they walk not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit; he says, He that believes is not condemned, he speaks in the present Time, and he says not, He shall not be condemned, but he is not condemned; so there is a present Remission, a present Justification, a present Absolution to thee that believest; thy Sanctification is wrought out by Degrees, thy Calling is by Degrees, thy Glory is by Degrees, thy Justification is done in an Instant; therefore he says, He that believes is not condemned, for he is past Peril, for the Gates of Hell cannot prevail against him that is in the Son, there is no Perdition to thee that art in the Fold of Jesus: None of my Sheep shall perish, says he. Why? The Lord Jesus has set thee in a precious Stone, and is wearing thee upon his Heart; and not only that, but the Father takes thee in his own Hand, therefore he prays, Father, keep them: So thou that art in Christ, not only hast thou the Son to be thy Shepherd, but also the Father to be thy Keeper.
Now, again he says, But he that believes not is condemned already. Mark the Words in these two Sentences; I need not winter this, but I may proclaim it a Verity surer than the Covenant with Noah; here I proclaim that the Believer that has his Heart washen in the Blood of the Son, his Justification is as sure, that the Heavens is no surer, and there is not a Possibility that he can perish; but let none look to be saved but a Believer; as for the Unbeliever, he bears already in his Conscience Condemnation, sealed up in his Heart; so, eatest thou, drinkest thou, thou mayst take many doleful Meals, for thou that believest not, thy Doom is given, thou shalt never see Heaven: Therefore if thou wilt not believe, make thee for the Devil and his Angels, for Life mayst thou not see with thy Eyes, the Jailor has put the Cord about thy Neck, that he will hang thee with; the Jailor has already covered thy Face, that thou shouldst not see the Sun, nor the Light of God no more, and thou art ready to die for evermore. Why? Let's see, he says, not because thou hast broken the Law, but he says, (it is true, thou shalt be flung into Hell for thy Sins) but this shall be the principal Cause, that thou wouldst not let the Gospel renew thy Heart. I see of all my Sins this is the greatest, the Contempt of the Gospel, and this Infidelity, that thou wilt not give Credit to the Verity thereof. I see there is no Sin against the whole Law proclaimed out of the Mount, and out of the Midst of a terrible Fire, that is comparable to the Contempt of the Gospel. Why? In the Breach of the Law thou breakest two Lights, and one Bond, but in the Breach of the Gospel, thou violatest three Lights and two Bonds; in the Breach of the Law, thou violatest the Light of Nature, and the Light of the Law, but thou violatest but one Bond between God and thee, as he is thy Creator; but in the Breach of the Gospel, thou violatest another Light, which is the essential Light of the Gospel, come from the Father; and, as thou violatest the greatest Light, so thou violatest the greatest Bond, thou tramplest under Foot the Blood of Jesus, thou upbraidest the Spirit of Grace, that would renew thy Heart, and thou wilt have none of him; this Gospel is the Power of God to turn a Sinner; so thou that wilt not believe, fightest and repinest against the Spirit that would renew thy Heart. The Lord teach me how, and after what Manner to speak unto you: I beseech God to keep both you and me from that fearful Thing; I have been over long in beginning to tell it, always I dare not omit it altogether. Ye are fallen in the Fullness of Time, that it is no Condemnation to love this Light, and it is Condemnation to love Darkness; I will say here before my Lord, ye are fallen in this Time, that if this Light heal you not, and convert you not, and put Life in you, think on, I tell you, the Contempt of this Light shall make your Damnation to go beyond the Damnation of all Ages gone before you; the Damnation of Cain, of the old World, of Sodom and Gomorrah, of the Jews, that crucified Christ, the Damnation of the Turks and Barbarians, and wild Americans, shall all be nothing to thine. I know the Congregation was never, but there were some in it fore-ordained to Condemnation, as there must be here also; whom it is, I leave it to the Lord; but whether is the Light contemned or not? Every one of you run to your own Heart, let your Deeds be with you, either to justify, or else to condemn you; there is a Security fallen upon us, a sound and deadly Sleep; and I confess to the Lord, your Security and mine goes both together, and this is now fallen upon us all; and except the Lord blow the Coal again, and put to his Hand and waken us, I dare not speak of all that I am persuaded is to come; I see a fearful Darkness and Shadow of Death drawing on every Soul, what shall we say of this proclaimed Imprecation.
The Lord knows I have holden up these Hands of mine to God, that he would not suffer his Kingdom to fall down among us, and that he would regard the Glory of his own Name.
Now the second Thing I would say, so many of you as have left off your watching one over another, I would exhort you, and obtest you, by the Lord Jesus, that ye open your Eyes again, and watch over one another.
Next, I proclaim a Malediction upon them that use not the Worship of God in their Houses, Morning and Evening, and live not according to this Gospel, and as Men and Women that profess themselves to be bought by the Blood of Christ, that they bring not an evil Name to the House of God. What know I, if there be any of you that entertain secret Whoredoms in your House? Some of you have lost your Authority, ye are not like Men that dare command Sin out of your Houses: Shall the Worship of God be mocked now with these Things? It is hard to wit but very visible Judgments shall fall upon their Carcass; and because it is not in vain to call upon God, let this be one of your Petitions, That God would discover the Actor, the Lord make thee known either in Mercy, if thou be'st his, or in Judgment in this World, the Lord make thee known. Again, ye that are young Damsels, your sitting under Stairs together, and your vain Tattling and Talking when ye meet, ye should sing Psalms together when ye meet, or speak the Word of Grace together; for it may be your Meeting is the Ground of this; away with you that make Pastime of the Worship of God; these are the two Things I crave of you; God knows there is Cause of Lamentation among us. Is this the Thankfulness that God craves of you? What ado had ye with these filthy Speeches among you? The Thing that God craves of us, truly, I think God would have us to renew our Repentance; therefore ye must begin again, and I must begin again; for I see that otherways the Wrath of God cannot be averted.
The next Thing I crave of you, is, That such of you, as with your Madness, Fury, and Whoredoms would profane this Town and Place, I would request you to live more soberly and godly, and renew the Morning and Evening Worship of God in all your Houses, and let not Evil be suffered among you, for Holiness should be written on the very Lasses that dights out the Ashes, and dresses your House.
I say no more; but I pray God to mend all your Misses, and heal all your Faults, for his Son's Sake. To whom, with the Father, and with the Spirit, be all Praise, for evermore. Amen.