... 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.
The First of two notable Sermons preached by Mr. John Welch at Air, upon the two last Tuesdays immediately before his Imprisonment; and this first of them upon Tuesday the 16th day of July, 1605.BECAUSE, in this Chapter, there is a Compend of all the Comforts and Consolations that the wearied and tired Sinner, in the Day of his Pilgrimage, has Mister [need] of to sustain him, that he may stand fast in the ill Day, and because we are not certain how long the Day of Mercy will last; therefore I hope this is from the Lord; who knoweth how to dispose of every Thing, and who has led me in this, that I desire to open to you the Comforts contained in this Chapter, that ye may want nothing that may bear you out with Joy and Comfort, to run your Race unto yon Kingdom. I will leave it to the Lord to work in every one of you, by his own Truth, as it shall please himself; and, in Simplicity, as I can, I shall open this to you in that Measure of Light that it shall please God to distribute unto me for your Comfort.
SERMON XLVII. ROMANS CHAP. VIII. VER. 1, 2, 3, &c.Now therefore there is no Condemnation to them that 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 me 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, &c.
Now, that ye may the better understand this, I will speak somewhat of the Chapters going before. He has told in his Letter here written to the Saints at Rome, he has told us, I say, three Things. The first is, That all Flesh, both Jew and Gentile, are under Condemnation by Nature; and that all the World is shut up under Unbelief; and that the Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all Ungodliness; and that no Flesh need ever to look for Righteousness, Life, or Salvation by the Law. This is the first.
The next Thing is this, he tells them, That there is not a Way under Heaven to a Sinner who is lying under the Wrath of God, and subject to Condemnation, there is not a Way for him to win out, but only to run out of himself, and into the Blood of the Son of God, and to lay his Heart in that Blood, and to believe, That Remission of Sins and eternal Life is purchased to him through that Blood; for God justifieth every Sinner that believeth. Therefore he says, Rom 5.9, And being justified by his Blood, we shall be saved from Wrath through him. And he tells then, verse 12, That as by one Man Sin entered into the World, and Death by Sin; verse 18, And as by the Offence of one the Fault came on all Men to Condemnation; so by the Righteousness of one, the Benefit hath redounded towards all Men to the Justification of Life. Verse 19, And as by one Man's Disobedience many were made Sinners; so by the Obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Thirdly, He tells, That all that have Faith in the Son of God, all that have gotten Pardon in his Blood, and all that are reconciled unto God freely through Christ, all these are justified, and sanctified by Grace, and the Death of Christ is effectual to slay Sin in them, that it reign not in their mortal Bodies: And the Resurrection of Christ is effectual in them, to work Righteousness and a new Life in them; that, whereas before they gave their Members as Weapons of Unrighteousness to Sin, now they give themselves unto God, and their Members as Weapons of Righteousness to please him in all Things. But here is the Difference, our Justification by Grace is perfect even in this Life, but our Sanctification is imperfect. Therefore upon this ariseth two Things to every Christian; the one is this, When he looketh to a perfect Saviour, then he has Peace that passeth all Understanding, and he has free Access to him, that he may go to the Throne of Grace when he will, to find Mercy and Grace in Time of Need, and he has Joy unspeakable in the Lord Jesus. The other is this, When he looketh to himself, and seeth that he is yet in Bonds, and he is led captive like a Slave, so that he cannot get leave to do the Thing that he would do, but he is compelled to do the Thing he would not; and this maketh him to cry out, Romans 7.24, O miserable Man that I am! who shall deliver me from this Body of Death? So when he looks to the one, to wit, his Justification by Faith in the Lord Jesus, then he has Consolation his fill; but when he looks to the other, and sees that he is daily offending the sweetest God, and the most merciful Father that ever was, then he has Sorrow and Doole at his Heart, and he longeth for the Day of his Dissolution, and to be with the Lord.
Now when he has done this in the seven Chapters going before, he tells now, in this Chapter, the happy Case of the Man that is justified by Faith, and sanctified by Grace, and it is this, There is no Condemnation to them. And because there are two Things that hinder the very chosen Child of God to get his full Comfort in this World; the one is Sin that dwelleth in him, that in-born Corruption wherewith he came into the World; the other is, the manifold Crosses and Afflictions that follow him in this Life, and are laid upon his Back; and because thir [these] two deprives him of much Comfort; for when he looketh to himself, he sees a Body of Sin within him, and when he looketh to his Back he sees many Crosses and Afflictions laid upon him, which he is not able to bear without an extraordinary Strength, and therefore he has not many Hours to rejoice in, because of thir [these] two Temptations wherewith the Child of God is continually assaulted; therefore the Holy Ghost, who is upon the secret Counsel of God, (for he searcheth the deep Things of God, and he knows the Thoughts of thy Heart, and what are the Discouragements of the Child of God) therefore here he giveth sufficient Consolation to every one of them, and he ministereth to them Comfort enough to sustain them against both these Temptations. For suppose thou be'st a miserable Sinner, sold under Sin, and led captive as a Slave, and suppose there be many Crosses and Afflictions laid upon thy Back, yet there is no Condemnation to thee, and this is Comfort enough to thee; So, because there are two Things that trouble the Child of God, and hinder him to run his Race with Cheerfulness, to wit, the Burden of Sin, and the Burden of Crosses and Afflictions; therefore he furnishes sufficient Consolation against both thir [these]. The one he doth from the Beginning of the Chapter to the 18th verse, the other from the 18th to the 31st verse; then he concludeth all with a comfortable Disputation, wherein he proveth, that nothing can do against the Child of God; for nothing shall be able to separate thee from the Love of God in Christ Jesus.
Now, what Consolation mayst thou have who art in Christ! For suppose thou hast a Body of Sin within thee, yet thou mayst thank God, that in thy Mind thou servest the Law of God, but in thy Flesh the Law of Sin, and there is no Condemnation to thee. And suppose thou be'st full of Troubles, Crosses, and Afflictions, yet all the Afflictions of this present Time are not worthy of the Glory which shall be shewed and revealed to thee one Day. So, poor Sinner, why art thou discouraged and out of Heart, partly for the Evil that is within thee, and partly for the Crosses and Afflictions that are upon thy Shoulders; for, if God be upon thy Side, who dare be against thee? Who shall lay any Thing to the Charge of God's Elect? If God do justify thee, who shall condemn thee? Thy Sins shall never be able to condemn thee. And as for Crosses and Afflictions, Who shall separate thee from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus? Shall Tribulation or Anguish, &c. in all these Things we are more than Conquerors. Then he tells his own Persuasion in the two last Verses, For I am persuaded that neither Death nor Life, Principalities nor Powers, &c. So there is the Sum of this Chapter.
Now, that ye may think upon it, there are two Things that dishearten thee who art God's Child; the one is, That in-born Corruption that is within thee, which is left to exercise thee, lest thou grow sluggish or idle; the other is, The manifold Crosses and Afflictions that God layeth upon thy Back to hold thee down, lest thy Heart be swelled and puffed up with Pride.
Now against both thir [these] Two the Spirit of God ministereth Comfort enough to them both. As to the First, thy Sins shall not condemn thee; as to the other there is a fair Glory to be revealed one Day to thee, if thou sawest it, thou wouldst think that all the Afflictions of this Life are not comparable to that infinite Weight of Glory that is laid up for thee in Heaven. Wherefore seeing the Lord is with thee, and seeing all the Crosses in the World shall never be able to separate thee from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus; therefore thou hast Matter enough of Consolation.
But now, to come to this Particular, 1st, There is set down here the Comfort itself. 2dly, The Persons to whom it belongeth, to wit, to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit. 3dly, There is the Ground of this Comfort to warrant it to thy Soul, that it is sure and certain; and that is set down in the 2d, 3d and 4th verses. The Ground is this, That Man or Woman shall never be condemned that is freed from the Law of Sin and Death, by the Spirit of Life; but thou that art in Christ Jesus art freed from the Law of Sin and Death; therefore thou shalt never be condemned. Now I would ye marked this, for there is a fair Building to be bigged [built] on this Ground, even the Comfort of thy Soul, the Hope of eternal Life, and the full Assurance of Salvation. That Man or Woman that is in Christ, thou mayst go blithely to Bed, yea, thou mayst go blithely to the Grave, and blithely mayst thou take Death in thine Arms, and thou mayst blithely send out thy Spirit, knowing that thy Spirit shall never go to the Spirits beneath, and to that Blackness of Darkness; but it shall enter into everlasting Glory: Therefore, I say, the Ground must be sure on which so fair a Consolation must be builded. What would a poor Sinner give to know that he was ransomed with so precious Blood, which is able to ransom ten thousand Worlds, if there were so many. Wouldst thou not be the Merchant Man, to sell all that thou hast to but this one Consolation, that thou mightest know it is the Purpose of God that thou shalt never perish, and that there is no Condemnation to thee? Wouldst thou be sure of this? There the Ground then which thou must lay; they that are freed from the Law of Sin and Death shall never perish; and thou who art in Christ and justified by Faith, and walkest not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit, thou art freed from the Law of Sin and Death: therefore thou shalt never perish; for there is no condemnation to thee.
But yet thy Conscience will not rest here; for it is much that will put the Conscience of a poor casten down Sinner out of Doubtings, because he sees that it is an everlasting Wrath that he has to do with. Now then to confirm thee in this, he tells thee the Ground of it in the 3d verse, as if he would say, The Cause why all that are freed from the Law of Sin and Death by the Spirit of Jesus shall never perish, nor there is no Condemnation to them, it is even this, because Christ the Son of God, in the Similitude of sinful Flesh, was condemned for Sin in the Flesh; now the Justice of God cannot condemn twice for one Fault, therefore the Severity of God's Justice cannot strike upon thee who art in Christ Jesus. Again, the severe Justice of God cannot condemn him who has fulfilled the Law; but thou who art in Christ Jesus, and walkest not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit, thou hast fulfilled the Law; therefore the sever Justice of God cannot condemn thee who art in Christ Jesus. But how hast thou fulfilled the Law? I answer, That which Christ has done in the Flesh is imputed unto thee, who art Justified by Faith; but Christ in the Flesh fulfilled the Law; therefore the fulfilling of the Law by Christ, is imputed unto thee. Thus much for the Meaning of this Text.
Now, we will come back again; and before that we come to the Words, mark the Dependence, and how this hangeth on the Things that are said before in the former Chapter. The Sight of his Misery gart [made] him cry out in the End of the 7th Chapter, O miserable Man that I am, who shall deliver me from this Body of Sin? He longed for any Person in the World, or elsewhere, that would deliver him from his Misery. Yet in the End he takes Comfort to himself, and he says, I thank my God through Jesus Christ our Lord; then, I myself in my Mind, serve the Law of God, but in my Flesh the Law of Sin. Now, here he subjoineth the Ground whereupon his Comfort ariseth, to wit, There is no Condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. Mark this, I pray you, the Sight of thy Misery will never bring thee Comfort except, with the Sight of it, thou knowest there is no Condemnation to thee, because thou art in Christ Jesus. Therefore, if God waken any of your Consciences, and gif [if] he spread the Bill of the Law, and read your Dittay [ditty, indictment], and let you hear your own Doom, except thou get this Comfort, That there is no Condemnation to thee, the Sight of thy Misery will either gar [make] thee despair, or seeing thyself out of Hope of Recovery, thou wilt run further on in Sin than ever thou didst before; therefore, my Hearts, when ye are wakened, hold your Eyes upon God, and on the Mediator Jesus Christ, and if thou dowest [canst] not win within the Vail, and unto the Throne of Grace, yet look back to Gethsemane, and there look on that Lord sweating Blood in the Garden for thy sake, that when thou seest the Sight of thy Sins, which are ready to bring down a consuming Fire upon thee, and when thou seest that these same sins made the Son of God heavy, and his Soul sorrowful to the very Death; then thou mayst say, I am a miserable Man, but yet, God be thanked, I serve God in my Mind: therefore there is no Condemnation to me. I grant the Sight of thy Sins is very needful to thee, and therefore God has given thee two Eyes to look upon both thir [these], that thou mayst never hold the one Eye off thy Misery, lest thy Heart swell; and that thou hold thy other Eye ever upon God's Mercy, and be thankful for the one, but mourn for the other.
Look on thy Misery, but look also within the Vail, and see the Son of God who has delivered thee from thy Misery; then sweet shall be thy Comfort which shall arise upon this Sight. Then shalt thou say, O loving Father! What shall I render unto thee, who hast sent thy Son to die for me? O sweet and loving Saviour! what shall I render unto thee, for coming willingly to die for me? O sweet Comforter! what shall I render to thee, who hast brought these glad News to me from Heaven? So this first shall make thee humble, and make thee comfortable.
Next again, mark before I come to the Words. He says, I thank my God, through Jesus Christ our Lord; then, I myself serve God in my Mind, but in my Flesh the Law of Sin. These are the Words of the last Chapter.
Mark here, except thou knowest thou art freed from Misery, and that thou shalt never be condemned in Hell; in the Sight of thy Misery, thou wilt never lift up thine Heart to say, I thank my God, through Jesus Christ my Lord: Why? Because as long as the Darkness of Hell covereth thine Eyes, so that thou seest not thy doleful Estate and Condition by Nature, it may be that thy temporal Comforts and Refreshments of Meat and Drink will lift up thy Heart, and make thee to say, for that Time, God be thanked; but take me a Sinner that is chained, and bound in the Fetters of Satan, and ready to be cast into Hell, except he get this Comfort given him, That there is no Condemnation to him, he will never say, God be thanked, from his Heart, for any Thing in this World. But take thee this Comfort and apply it to thyself when thou art in this Case, thou mayst say, Lord, this is the chiefest Sinner that ever the Earth bore; yet, I thank God I have Consolation, that I know if I be a great Sinner, the Mercy of God shall appear so much the more clearly in giving me Mercy; and this will make thee to say, Let other Men say what they will, but I will say, That I have gotten the greatest Mercy that ever Man or Woman got, and therefore, I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But now perhaps, ye will speir [ask], Whether may I say, there is no Condemnation to me; for I know I shall never be condemned; I will tell you belyve [shortly] whether ye may say it or not: But before I come to it, mark this, so many of you as have ever gotten this Comfort, ye know that there are two Things that have hindered you to praise God; the one is, The Bondage that ye have been in would never suffer you to praise God so heartily as ye would have done, if it had been otherwise with thee; therefore learn this Lesson, If this Comfort belong to thee, that there is no Condemnation to thee, if thou wert the most miserable Sinner in the World, let never the Sight of thy Misery bind up thy Tongue from the Praises of God, or hinder thee to say, God be thanked in Jesus Christ. And I know many of you are hindered to praise God, because ye have not gotten your Hearts loosed yet; and therefore thou thinkest that thou canst not praise God: But, I say, let this be sufficient to thee, that thou knowest there is no Condemnation to thee, and that thou shalt never come into that blackness of Darkness; if thou hadst so many Miseries on thy Back as ever Man had, let this be sufficient, I say, that thou mayst say, Well is me, I know there is no Condemnation for me. Now, God be merciful to me and you both; for when we have gotten this Consolation many a Time offered, yet our Sin within us has bound up our Hearts, that we could not say, God be thanked for this; therefore we have been injurious to God, and injurious to our own Souls. I remember the Mountains are bidden rejoice, because the Lord hath redeemed his People; how much more then should we ourselves rejoice of that Redemption, who are Partakers thereof? O that ye knew what it is to be freed from Hell and Condemnation! For then should ye cry to all the Creatures of God to help you to praise the Lord, for that unspeakable Benefit of your Redemption.
But now I come to the Words, I say, he subjoineth here the Matter of his Comfort in thir [these] Words, Now then there is no Condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. There the Ground of his Comfort: What now? Wot ye that the Word is, No Condemnation to them; thou who art in Christ, shalt stand before the Throne, the Books of thy Conscience shall be opened, and the Judge shall judge thee, but he shall never pronounce Doom against thee; he, who is the Judge; shall condemn others; but such as are in himself, he will no more condemn their Souls, than he will condemn himself. I remember the Apostle says, Who shall condemn? He speireth at [challenges by question] Man, Angel, and Devil, Where will the Person be found in Heaven, in Hell, or in the Earth, that shall condemn thee who art in Christ? Where shall the Judge be gotten to do this? Will the Father do it, who of his own good Will and free Love sent his Son to die for thee, when thou wast his Enemy? Will the Son do it, who bought thee with his own precious Blood, and died for thee? Will the Holy Spirit do it, who is sent from God to tell thee, that the Blood was shed for thee? Will the Angels do it, who are made thy Servants to minister Comfort to thee? Will the Saints do it, that are saved by the same Blood which has saved thee? Will the Devils do it? No, for they may well be the Accusers of the Brethren, but they are not the Judges, for they themselves shall be judged; for the Apostle Peter saith, 2 Pet. 2.4, God has delivered them into Chains of Darkness, to be kept there unto Damnation. Will the Reprobate do it? No, for Jude says, Jude 13, They are reserved to that Blackness of Darkness for ever. Where shall a Judge be found then? Will the Heavens or the Earth do it? No, For we know that (Rom. 8.22,23.) Every Creature groaneth with us also, and travaileth in Pain together, until this Present; and not only the Creatures, but we also who have the First-fruits of the Spirit, even we do sigh in our selves, waiting for the Adoption, even the Redemption of our Bodies. Will the Law do it? No, for the Mouth of the Law is stopped, because he has fulfilled the Law. Will the Justice of God do it? No, for that were against Justice to condemn twice for one Fault. Will thy Conscience do it then? No, for the Blood shall be louder than thy Conscience. This much for the Comfort. Now then there is no Condemnation.
But to whom? That is all that we should be about to know, to whom this Comfort belongeth; to them that are in Christ Jesus; to be in him, that is a great Word, for thou canst not be in him till thou be'st rugged out of the old Stock of Adam; thou wilt say then, How shalt thou know whether thou be'st in Christ or not? I answer, If thou be'st in him, he is in thee.
But thou wilt say, That is as hard yet to know, whether he be in me or not; for if I wist that he were in me, then my Soul should get Comfort and Ease there: How shalt thou know if thou be'st in Christ, and Christ in thee? For if thou be'st out of Christ, there is nothing but Condemnation for thee, and the Fire of God's Wrath will tumble on thee. Dool [grief] to the Soul that is found alone; and wo to the miserable Conscience of that Man or Woman, that is not planted in Christ! How shalt thou know then? I will tell thee, thou shalt know by the Way thou art walking in, and the Guide that thou art following: So then, is thy Course towards yon Glory, to be revealed in Heaven, and toward the Blood, and toward that everlasting Habitation, and toward that new Jerusalem in Heaven. Then thou art in the Way to Christ.
Now, look whereunto thy Heart has the Course, and where is thy Treasure laid up? Is thy Course toward Heaven? Is thy Heart and Treasure there? And wouldst thou fain have thy Soul filled with Joy, Peace, and Righteousness in Christ? Then thou art in the Way that leadeth to Life.
Next, look to the Guide that conveyeth thee, for there are two Guides within thee, there is both the Flesh and the Spirit in thee, and the Flesh will guide to thy Gain, and to thy Pleasure, and to thy Profit; and the Spirit will guide thee to thy Sins, to thy Miseries, to the Blood, and to the Man Christ Jesus made Flesh, conceived in the Womb of the Virgin, laid in a Crib, subject to all Infirmities without Sin, sweating Blood in the Garden, hanged on a Tree, laid in the Grave, risen and gone to Heaven. The Spirit will lead thee in through Heaven, and he will guide thee to the Love of the Father, which is the Fountain of thy Salvation, unto the unchangeable Decree of thy Election, and unto that everlasting Glory. But I must leave this. But to give you some Ease in your Minds to go away with, I will give you but thir [these] two Marks to know whether thou be'st in Christ, or not? The one is, if thou be'st in Christ, then the Spirit of Christ is in thee; and if the Spirit be in thee, then Christ himself is in thee; and if Christ be in thee, then thou art the Lamb's Wife; and therefore he will never condemn thee.
But yet thou wilt say, I follow the Flesh oftentimes. I answer, but thinkest thou that thou art out of the Way, when thou art going another Course than the Son of God, or the Spirit of Christ would lead thee in; yea? Will not the Sheep wander? And will not the Penny put up in the Purse be lost? Now then, would ye know what is the Mind of God towards you? I am here to testify it to you, and would you know if there be no Condemnation to you? Then answer thou me, and I shall pronounce the Testimony of God to thee. Tell me what Way thou art going, would thou fain believe in Christ? And wouldst thou fain live the Life of Christ? And would ye fain be in Heaven where Christ your Head is? And long ye to dwell with God? And doth the Holy Ghost come in whiles [at times] within thee, to speak to thy Soul, and to say, Here is the Way, walk in it; This is no false Spirit; this is no beguiling Spirit, that leads thee first to thy Misery; next to the Blood of Jesus; and thirdly, to the Love of the Father; for this is the Spirit of God.
But yet thou wilt say, The Flesh ay [always] mastereth me, and gets oftenest the Victory. I answer, There are four Differences betwixt them that walk after the Flesh, and them that walk after the Spirit.
First, He that walketh after the Flesh, his Course is ay one, and is never changed; but he that walketh after the Spirit, findeth a Change wrought, and he is turned out of the broad Way into the narrow Way, and his general Course is towards Heaven, howsoever it be that he is oftentimes driven off his Course.
Secondly, He that walketh after the Flesh, committeth sin with Greediness, for he thinks he dow [can] not get a Fill of Sin; but he that walketh after the Spirit, thinketh his Sin his Misery, and therefore it is a Burden to him.
Thirdly, He that walketh after the Flesh, remembereth his Sin with Gladness and Joy; but he that walketh after the Spirit, remembereth his Sins with Grief and Sorrow of Heart.
Fourthly, He that walketh after the Flesh, Sin reigneth in him, and he followeth it whithersoever it leadeth him; but he that walketh after the Spirit, he is loath to sin, and woe is him when he is compelled to sin, and when he has sinned he weepeth bitterly.
Now to conclude, As many then as at this Time, may arraign their Hearts and Consciences before God, and there may protest, saying, Lord thou art Witness to my Soul, that I would fain walk after the Spirit; I would fain turn to thee with my whole Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength; I would count Sin my greatest Misery, and a Burden to me; I would fain remember my Sins with Grief and Sorrow, and with a heavy Heart; and I would fain have Sin slain, that it reign not into me; so many of you as may say this, in the Truth of your Heart; here I bear you Record, that there is no Condemnation to you; and therefore, blythly [joyfully] may ye go home to your House, and blythly may ye go out at this Church-Door, and ye may say, when ye are come Home, this Day Salvation is come into my House, I am made the Child of God, and the Brother of Jesus Christ, for I am in him, and he is in me; and therefore there is no Condemnation to me. Now the Lord grant you this for Christ his Son's Sake; to whom with the Father, and Holy Ghost, be all Praise, Honour, and Glory, for now and evermore. Amen.