To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken.—Jer. 6.10

[Select Sermons of John Welch: Sermon 23; Psalm 42.1, &c.]
That Eminent and Faithful Servant
JOHN WELCH, sometime
Minister of the Gospel in AIR.


PSALM xlii. VER. 1, 2, 3.

As the Hart panteth after the Water-brooks, so panteth my Soul after thee, O God. My Soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: When shall I come and appear before God? My Tears have been my Meat Day and Night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

THERE is here the very Anatomy or Picture of a distressed Soul wrestling with Anguish and great Perplexity, and Grief of Mind; and it is written for the Consolation of all such, whose Souls are exercised with the like Temptations of Anguish or Grief for the Want of God’s Presence.

This Doctrine cannot be pleasant and profitable to any, but to those that have a distressed and a cast down Soul; the Soul that is filled with Consolation hath no need of it, and the Soul that is lying in Security, and not wakened cannot apply it, therefore as yet it hath no need of it; but the Soul that is wakened, and sees that God is absent, and therefore pants for the living God, and the Soul that is disquieted, and can get no Rest, and these that have the Waves of God’s Wrath going over them, and have on Deep calling upon another Deep, and standing between Wind and Wave, they, I say, being plunged in the Depth of God’s Wrath, would gladly look into the {293} Depths of God’s Mercy; such, I say, as are this way cast down will bear with the Doctrine, and they will be glad of it; such of you as have your Souls filled with Consolation will bear with it also; and such of you as are in Security, and would be glad to be wakened, ye will bear with it too; for they that are securest now, it may be there come Times that the Remembrance of those Things may bring Consolation to them. But to come to the Purpose,

The Thing that I left at was this, how far the Child of God may come on with the Reprobate; how far he may be cast down, and what are the Degrees of his casting down. Now, I know well, that the Consideration of this will bring some Comfort to the Soul that is cast down, that when they hear the Saints of God before them have been brought to this, that they will see their Sin accusing them, convicting and condemning them before the Tribunal of God’s Justice, and they see when they pray, their Prayer was shut out, they have been deprived of all consolation, deprived of the Sense of Love, deprived of the Certainty of Election, deprived of the Gift of Faith and Repentance, and, to their own Judgment, deprived of all Grace and Mercy; and, last of all, they have almost cast away their Hope, and cursed the Day, the Night, the Time and Hour wherein they were born; and cursing all Creatures that ever did them Good, and shewed them any Consolation. I remember Job said, Job 6.2, Oh! that my Grief were well weighed; as if he would say, It is so heavy that none can bear it; and in another Place he says, Am I Iron or Brass? As if he would say, Ye wonder at my Perturbation, but if Iron or Brass were in my Stead, and if they were cast in the Flame that is in my Soul, I am sure that Flame would melt them. Was not this a strange Torment he was under? And think ye this a little Thing that made the Son of God himself fear, that he was glad to ask Comfort of his Disciples, who {294} could not comfort him, and was glad to make his Moan, and pour out the Complaint of his soul to them, saying, My Soul is sorrowful and heavy, even unto Death; and desired them to watch and pray with him, and he prayed, that the Cup might be taken from him, Matt. 26.28. What made him do this, think ye, but the very Torment and Pangs of the Fire of Hell, which he endured in his Soul for our Sins, that he had lying on his Back. Now there are none of you can tell how soon ye have to do with this, nor yet how soon God will awaken your Consciences for your Sins, and your Soul then would be glad of the meanest Drop of Consolation that ever was given to any of the People of God. For your Exercise then, if ye would desire a Word of Consolation in this Time of Need, ye must understand that God hath a double Work in the Souls of such of his own as are cast down; the one Work is secret, and so secret, that it only bears them up that they cast not away their Hope; but they stand waiting with Patience till God bring Consolation; and this Work is so secret, that thou canst not look within thine own Heart, to see if there be any Grace there to comfort thee; yet there will be a Displeasure for Sin that hath brought on so great a Judgment upon thee, there will be a Hatred and Detestation of it; there will be a Hunger and a Thirst after Righteousness; there will be a longing for the Lord’s Deliverance; there will be a patient waiting on, and Hope above Hope: Thou wilt have all these Things in thy Heart, suppose thou knowest not of them.

But thou wilt say, I can have no Comfort here: But take heed to this, when thou art in this Case, thou must not judge thyself by thy own Sense or Feeling, thou must not rest on it; but the more thou art hindered to believe, labour the more to grip to the Promises, and see this Necessity lying upon thee, I must believe under the Pain of endless Condemnation; I must hope above Hope, or else I will never get that {295} blessed Seed Christ Jesus: And if this Necessity will not move thee to believe, then beware to add this Blasphemy to all the rest of thy Sins, as to make Christ a Liar; for he hath said, Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for Righteousness Sake: thou hungerest and thirstest, therefore thou must be blessed; so the more thy Sense fails thee, believe thou the more, for this brings greater Glory to God.

Last of all, Rest upon the Promises of God, saying, Come unto me all ye that are wearied and ladened, and I will ease you; he that believes shall never be condemned; believe and thou shalt see Wonders.

But if thou wilt say, The Promises belong not to me; beware of that, exclude not thyself, for God hath not excluded thee; so be’st thou Jew or Gentile, or of whatsoever Nation thou be’st, thou art not excluded; were thy Sins never so great, and thy Soul as red as Scarlet, yet thou art bidden come to that Lord, and he shall make it as white as Snow; wert thou never so blind, so deaf, so crooked, or lame, yea, never so leprous, yet thou art bidden come to the Marriage of the King’s Son: So this is not the Bidding of God to cast away the Promises of God, but this is the Command of God to grip to the Promises, and to claim a Right and a Title to Christ.

Another work hath the Lord with his own, when he hath come and given thee Consolation, then goes away again; when he is gone away then thou beginnest to call in question all the former Work of God, and thou beginnest to doubt, whether it was the Lord that came or not. But to know that it was the Lord, (take heed to what I am to speak) when the Lord comes, he brings light with him, and this Light shines in thy Soul so clearly, that thou seest both Heaven and Hell; and this Light never leaves thee till it persuade thee that the Father hath loved thee in the Son, the Son hath redeemed thee with his Blood, and thou art freely forgiven all thy Sins; {296} then this persuasion brings unspeakable Joy with it, and Peace to thy Conscience that passes all Understanding.

Now, it is the Spirit that works these Things, suppose thou canst not tell how. Therefore to try if this be the true Work of the Holy Ghost in thee, thou shalt mark these three Things:

First, Mark what was thy Estate before that this Light came to thee; look if there was a felt Blindness, a felt Hardness of Heart, and a felt Absence of the Spirit; then this light lets thee see thy Blindness, thy Hardness of Heart through Security, and lets thee see the Absence of the Spirit, that thou canst discern when he is present, and when he is absent; thou feelest this, and thou wonderest at the Change when it comes.

Secondly, Mark the Power of this Light; if it renew thy Heart, and if thou findest a new Change or Alteration in thy Mind, and if it lets thee see these Things, that when it comes it lets thee see the Love of the Father clearly, thou seest the Blood of Christ speaking for thee clearly, and thou seest thy Remission clearly, and thou seest thy Name put up in the Book of Life clearly.

Thirdly, and last of all, Mark the Stamps or the Prints that this Light leaves behind it in thee; look if this Light doth let thee see the Love of God to thee; if it ravishes thee with Love to him again; that all thy Delight is in his Presence, and if thou mayst say, The Lord, whom that Light doth represent unto me, is dearer unto me than any thing else in Heaven or in Earth; this Presence of my God is sweeter to my Soul, than all the Pleasures under Heaven; I desire no other Joy than the Fruition of his Presence, and that Joy that comes from this Light. Again, look if this Light lets thee see thy Sins forgiven thee in the Blood of Christ? if it brings a Hatred and Detestation of all Sort of Sin, and when thou mayst say, {297} Well is my Soul, when I know my God is honoured, but woe is my Soul, when I know he is dishonoured: And look if this Light lets thee see thy Infirmities, and makes thee to long for the Day of thy Dissolution, and for the Day of the Lord’s appearing in the Clouds, that thou mayst see the Day of thy Salvation accomplished; if this Light hath left these Stamps behind it, then it comes from the Lord, and it shall never leave thee altogether; for the Gifts and Calling of God are without Repentance: Therefore if thou hast gotten this true Light of the Spirit, and if it were but once in thy Lifetime, thou mayst be glad; for in all thy Temptations God shall be with thee, and his infinite Mercy will not let thee be overcome with Wrath.

I say no more now; but try your Light by these Marks which I have told you. And I commend that which hath been spoken to the Grace of God in Christ Jesus: To whom with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, be everlasting Praise, Honour, and Glory, for now and ever. Amen.