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Only a few months after Crisp died in 1643 were published, by his dear friend and follower, Robert Lancaster, a small collection {14 messages} of his Sermons, published under the title “Christ Alone Exalted,” {as this was their central theme,} and over the next 3 years {1643-46} where published two additional volumes, with recommendatory prefaces by Mr. Robert Lancaster, Mr. George Cockayn, and Mr. Henry Pinnell, forty-two of these Sermons being delivered, in or near London, in the early 1640’s. These messages were all taken down in short-hand writing, during their delivery, and compared with Crisp’s own sermon notes, or taken from them; and as they were not designed, nor prepared for the press by the Author, they, no doubt, thus appearing in this unadorned dress, would have most likely been, if Crisp had been given the opportunity, edited and enhanced in a way, as to clarify some of their phraseology, and to further develop and expound their theme. In 1690, a new edition of these Sermons was printed, with an addition of ten more taken from the Author’s notes, by his son Samuel Crisp; and again in 1755 by John Gill.

Memoirs of the Life, etc. of
Tobias Crisp, D.D.

Tobias Crisp, 1600-1643, Gospel Minister, {exalter of Christ Alone, in the faithful proclamation of God’s Sovereign Grace, setting forth, in no ambiguous terms the glorious Gospel in all its assimilating truth and indispensable doctrine as a pure declaration of Free & Sovereign Grace – the proclamation of an Accomplished Redemption through the sole Merit, Righteousness and Death of the Lord Jesus Christ, a Declarative Sentence of Absolution unto all the elect, to whom alone it does belong, the glad tidings that God has saved His people from their sins,} was born in Bread Street, London. He was the third son of Ellis Crisp, a wealthy Merchant and Alderman of the City, who was Sheriff of London when he died in 1625. His eldest brother, Nicholas; that is, Sir Nicholas Baronet Crisp, {also spelled Crispe,} who was born only a year before, {in 1599,} was to become one of the wealthiest and most industrious merchants in all of London; and because of his devoted loyalty to King Charles the First, {by whom he was knighted,} suffered much {among other things, was exiled to France} during the unrest which preceded and followed the execution of the King. The magnificent house built by Crisp at Hammersmith was bought in 1683 by Prince Rupert for his mistress, Margaret Hughes, and eventually became the residence of Queen Caroline. Upon the Restoration, he was one of the Committee sent by the City of London to King Charles the Second, at Breda, to invite him back; and, upon the King’s restoration, was reinstated into his post as one of the Farmers of the Customs, and was made a Baronet.

But to return to the Doctor, who received his initial education at Eton College, near Windsor, and then at Cambridge. In reference to Crisp’s initial ministry, it would appear that he first set out in a legal way of preaching, and though his understanding was darkened, whilst under this black cloud of spiritual bewilderment; that is, prior to the Lord granting him true repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth of the Gospel; he afterwards, {with a clearer knowledge of Christ, and working from principles of Grace,} became a firm and staunch advocate for Gospel Truth & Grace, being exceedingly zealous, and being graced with a sincere and earnest desire to glorify God in his life and ministry. About this time {1626} he married Mary Wilson, daughter of Rowland Wilson, a prosperous London Merchant who sat in Parliament during the Civil War, by whom he had thirteen children. In 1627, he was incorporated at Balliol College, Oxford; and soon thereafter, {about the 27th year of his age,} became Rector of Brinkworth in Wiltshire, where, being settled, he continued until the time of the Civil War, and was much followed for his edifying way of preaching the Gospel of Christ, and known for his gracious generosity to the poor and needy, {having received a large income of his own,} and his kind hospitality to all persons that resorted to his house. It is to be noted that Crisp never sought for any worldly advancement, to which his way was open through his parentage and friends, but gave himself up entirely to the preaching of the Gospel.

Upon the breaking out of the Civil War, {by which time he had become a Doctor of Divinity,} fearing the disrespect of Cromwell’s Cavalier Soldiers, to all aligning themselves with the Royalists, he left his Residence in August of 1642, to return to London, where his sentiments in regards to the freeness of the Gospel of Christ, were soon discovered; for in his proclamation of Christ, Crisp articulated the message in a manner that strongly emphasized God’s Unconditional Decree of Election; Christ’s Redemptive and Substitutionary Sacrifice as grounded in that Eternal Decree; and a Dispensation of God’s Grace that was unadulterated by Legal Conditions designed to solicit man’s part or contribution. Its distinctive tendency was to overthrow the religion of man, whilst maintaining clear Law/Gospel Distinctions and setting forth Christ’s Pre-eminent Glory. This message left no room for Human Agency, Qualifications or Conditions, which would in any manner impede the always Efficacious Work of the Holy Spirit in Salvation applied; or on the other hand compel or somehow oblige the LORD to grant mercy based upon any pre-qualifications, {as faith, prayers, repentance, &c.,} that men might conjure up in attempts to make themselves acceptable in the eyes of the LORD, or somehow to interest, unite, and incorporate themselves into Christ. In other words, according to Crisp, all the conditions of salvation were already met by Christ, and if the elect were complete before God in their Representative Head, then Faith, Repentance, &c., being brought in as conditions was clearly a forsaking and a denial of Christ; as if to imply that the Father was not fully satisfied in the accomplishments of His Son. According to Crisp, “either we are the ministers and messengers of Christ, or the ministers of Moses; we are either the ministers of the Covenant of Works, or the messengers of the Covenant of Grace,” for if a sinner can contribute to any aspect of Salvation, he thereby overturns Grace, destroys the message of the Gospel, and in essence denies the Person and Work of Christ.

Crisp was burdened on account that the declaration of the pure Gospel was being adulterated, which was evident from the messages he preached, in one place exclaiming, “it is to be lamented, I confess, and I would to God there were no occasion to speak of it, whilst we profess ourselves to be the ambassadors of Christ, to dispatch this great business, to beseech men in Christ’s stead to be reconciled unto God; we are too much the ministers of Moses, pressing and thundering the wrath of God from heaven; publishing unto men the working out their own salvation by their own works, according to the law; putting on them the performance of duties in every particular, that they may have peace and joy of spirit from it; telling them, that they must make their peace with God, by fasting, and prayer, and mourning. Is this to beseech men in Christ’s stead to be reconciled unto God by Christ alone? This is the message of the ministers of the Gospel; and whoever he be that forsakes this message, he goes, and is not sent; he takes upon him to manage a business out of his own commission; for the commission is, that we in Christ’s stead should beseech men to be reconciled unto God, and that by the blood of Christ alone.” Is it any wonder therefore that Crisp’s clear preaching, and his uncompromisingly faithfulness to the Gospel, engendered the opposition and animosity of those who had departed from the simplicity that was in Christ; especially at this time when men whose limp {mere creedal} grasp of the Everlasting Gospel began such a down-grade spiral towards Arminianism. In his message entitled, “Christ’s Free Welcome to all Comers,” Crisp states that, “we have had Arminianism exceedingly exploded among us hitherto, and there hath been much complaint against it; but if we conceive that God, in pardoning sin, hath an eye to confession of it, here is the doing of works for pardon of sin; and how far short this comes of Arminianism, let all the world judge.” It would appear that many at this time who professed the truths known as the Doctrines of Grace were drifting away from their Foundational Pillars; but even as men were trampling underfoot the essential truths of Crisp’s message, there were those whose broken spirits were being revived, and whose spiritual eyes were beginning to see afresh the beauties and perfections of Christ, and the true message of the Gospel, thus simply set forth; which simplicity seemed to characterize Crisp’s preaching throughout, being particularly suited to the case of souls made truly sensible of sin, and made easy to be understood by those of the meanest capacity, as is evident in the manner by which he often illustrated the deepest Mysteries of Grace by things common among men, and known to all.

Once established in London, his faithful and constant preaching began to ‘stir the pot’ of any and all who were in the ways of religion inclined towards a “yea and nay” works Gospel, co-mingled Law with Gospel, emphasized so-called Sacraments more than Christ, and wore their religion more on their sleeves, rather than within their hearts. Those who reproached and persecuted him, did so in a harsh manner, hurling falsely fabricated accusations against him, and deceitfully charging the Gospel that he preached with Antinomianism; though the innocency and harmlessness of his life, and his fervency in good works was an obvious argument to confute these slanders, against the most holy faith which he preached and lived. In London, he was lured into controversy by fifty-two antagonists, {a sort of anti-Crisp Society,} doing all in their power to discredit him, in a grand dispute concerning the Doctrines of Grace. This slander continued well unto his death, and was intensified once his sermons came to Press, their usual course being that of plucking {completely out of context} what they considered as Antinomian phrases from his sermons in order to support their shallow arguments. Dr. William Twisse, the appointed Chairman of the Westminster Assembly expressed that he “had read Dr. Crisp’s sermons, and could give no reason why they were opposed, but because so many were converted by his preaching, and {said he} so few by ours.” Likewise, the Independent Minister Thomas Cole, the author of a valuable treatise on Regeneration, 1689, declared, that if he had but one hundred pounds in the world, and Dr. Crisp’s book could not be had without giving fifty pounds for it, he would give it, rather than be without it, saying, “I have found more satisfaction in it, than in all the books in the world, except the Bible.”

Crisp’s prime concern in preaching was the glory and preeminence of Christ, whilst seeking to administer comfort to those whose hearts had been made sad by law mongering clergy dressed in Puritanical robes, as well as the laborious and conditional doctrine of works as maintained by the Arminianism of Archbishop Laud, and all his deluded followers. All this fierce opposition, which was zealously and faithfully managed on his part, along with his intense labours in preaching the Gospel, left him vulnerable to sickness, as he contracted the smallpox disease, which would rapidly bring him to his grave, at such an early age of 43. In regards to his last days, Robert Lancaster had this to say in his introduction to the First Volume of Crisp’s Sermons, “and withal, he forgot not {considering the cunning of Satan, and the lying power of darkness} to profess before some present the steadfastness of his faith to this effect; that as he had lived in the Free Grace of God through Christ, so he died with confidence and great joy, even as much as his present condition was capable of, resign his life and soul into the hands of his most dear Father. And so without the least thought of recanting or renouncing the doctrine he had preached, {as some have falsely and wickedly spread abroad,} after some time, with continual flowing expressions of joy, he departed this life, into the assured everlasting embraces of his dear Redeemer. And now gracious Lord, who only art the Author and Finisher of our faith, be pleased more and more to enlighten the eyes and open the mouths of all thy ministers, that they may not shun or be afraid to declare unto thy people the whole council of God, even the utter disability and nothingness of man; and withal the freeness of thy Grace, the plenteousness of thy Redemption, and thy Salvation, to the uttermost; that the hearts of thy people may rejoice, and their joy no man may take away from them.”

Crisp was buried in the family vault at St. Mildred’s Bread Street, {which church was torched in the Great Fire of London in 1666, rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, only to be completely destroyed by German bombs in 1941,} only a short distance from where he was born. Shortly after his death {in that same year} were published, by his dear friend and follower, Robert Lancaster, a small collection {14 messages} of his Sermons, published under the title “Christ Alone Exalted,” {as this was their central theme,} and over the next 3 years {1643-46} where published two additional volumes, with recommendatory prefaces by Mr. Robert Lancaster, Mr. George Cockayn, and Mr. Henry Pinnell, forty-two of these Sermons being delivered, in or near London, in the early 1640’s. These messages were all taken down in short-hand writing, during their delivery, and compared with Crisp’s own sermon notes, or taken from them; and as they were not designed, nor prepared for the press by the Author, they, no doubt, thus appearing in this unadorned dress, would have most likely been, if Crisp had been given the opportunity, edited and enhanced in a way, as to clarify some of their phraseology, and to further develop and expound their theme. In 1690, a new edition of these Sermons was printed, with an addition of ten more taken from the Author’s notes, by his son Samuel Crisp; and again in 1755 by John Gill.

Thus lived and died one who faithfully served his generation, in setting forth the Glories of Christ’s Redemption-Grace; not only to those who were privileged to sit under his Christ Exalting Ministry, but to many subsequent generations of Christ minded believers; even to this dark day, wherein the Essential Truths of the Gospel are, for the most part thrown aside, or trampled underfoot by men whose minds have been corrupted from the simplicity or singleness that is in Christ.

To All Those That Love Our Lord Jesus Christ.

To those who embrace the Word of His Free Grace; especially to the faithful hearers of that Heavenly Ambassador of Christ, Dr. Crisp, Grace and Peace be MultipliedAs in all things. Beloved brethren, the provident care of the Lord Christ is manifested towards you his people, whose eye of faith he hath opened; so especially in sending this faithful “man of God” among you, “who came in the abundance of the blessing of the gospel of Christ;” the very prints of the footsteps of the Lord’s grace and favour are most conspicuous. For as the Lord foresaw, that you were to meet with more than ordinary straits and difficulties in these sad times; so it pleased his goodness, to afford a more than ordinary support, to establish the hearts of his people; that they might not fear to sink in, or be swallowed up by those billows that threaten continually to overflow them.

Now, there is none, I suppose, that is in any measure of truth, acquainted with the “terrors of God,” but he must needs confess, that the one thing that is necessary to effect this establishment of the soul from all distracting and distrustful cares and fears, must needs the assurance of peace and reconciliation with God. For whilst God is looked upon as an enemy, what can there be but a continual fearful looking for judgment, and fiery indignation to consume his adversaries; seeing our God is a consuming fire? {Heb.12:29} For if the estate was so dreadful, which Moses threatened to the Israelites, when he told them, “they should have just cause of fear, both day and night, because they should have no assurance of their lives;” {Deut.28:66;} how much more terrible must it needs be, when we not only carry this temporal life in our hands every moment; but also when there is no assurance, but that the pale horse, on which death rideth, hath hell following after him; {Rev.6:8;} and so there is no assurance of eternal life? This must needs be just cause, with a witness, to fear both day and night. Except therefore the soul be translated from under the dominion of the king of fears, and peace and reconciliation fully and freely manifested; the heart must needs {especially in such times as these, wherein it is continually called upon, “where is thy rest;”} be overwhelmed with horror and distraction.

That therefore the Lord’s people might have an impregnable rampart, and sure repose; that they might have a city to dwell in, whereunto “the Lord hath made salvation itself, to be for walls and bulwarks;” {Isa.26:1;} therefore hath the Lord sent the glorious word of his free grace, in the mouth of this messenger of peace among you, creating the fruit of his lips to be peace, I think I may truly say unto thousands, both of them that were afar off in profaneness, and to them that were near, in legal profession. For this free grace that is set at naught, and seldom mentioned by many builders, but with reproach; the Lord will make the chief of the corner, and lay it with joy and shouting of those that embrace it, though it should be for a stone of stumbling to the adversaries thereof.

This free grace laid forth in the redemption that is in Jesus Christ freely bestowed, is that only thing that is able to make us stand with confidence, both in all the troubles of this life, and also before the tribunal seat of God, even in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment; when all the righteousness of our own works will vanish away as the morning dew; wherein the great apostle desired not to be found. {Phil.3:9} Although he had a measure of it, far above the strictest in these times; yea, there is nothing but the precious blood-shed of the Son of God that was able to deliver us from that damnation, which the best of our own works and righteousness do daily and hourly deserve. So that to think to rest here is to sleep upon the top of a mast, where every puff of wind is ready to cast a man into the bottom of the sea. And surely, notwithstanding their pretended deep humiliations, they seem never to have been truly acquainted with the terrors of God, who dare appear before him in their imperfect and therefore sinful sanctification and duties. For if the Lord God ran upon his only beloved Son like a lion, with such fury and indignation, when he was but wrapped in our iniquities, that he cried out in a most strange and lamentable manner, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Oh then, how should we dare to look upon him, or come into his presence, in our own dung and rags, covering ourselves with our own confusion as with a cloak. “For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” {Lk.23:21}

But yet although in regard of our own works, even the best of them, we have just cause to lay our lips in the dust for evermore; yet, in regard of this free grace of God, being operative in his free choosing, in his free justifying and saving us, not only, not for, and in no wise according to the works of righteousness which we have done. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” {II Tim.1:9} “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” {Tit.3:5-7} There is just matter of joy and exultation, and even of strong consolation, to them that fly unto the throne of grace; which hath been so faithfully, so evidently, and purely set forth unto you by this glorious instrument of Christ, that your hearts can testify, you were led forth by the waters of comfort, whilst others wandered in a wilderness by the waters of Marah; {Ex.15:23;} that you enjoyed a feast of fat things, whilst others sat in Egypt under their task masters, with their leeks and onions. And this the Lord was pleased to manifest unto you, that ye might not go heavily in these heavy and sad times, wherein men are at their wit’s end; but that ye might lift up your heads, because the full manifestation of your redemption draweth near; that ye might with perfect boldness, even unto a triumph, not only look in the face, but trample upon the most terrible of all your enemies, sin, death, Satan, and hell itself, through the great and glorious conquest of the Captain of our salvation; for God our Father, by this grace alone, hath not only delivered us from this present evil world, but also translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, and made us freely meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.

It is true indeed, brethren, the Prince of darkness cannot but exceedingly repine and fret to see a stronger than he thus bind him, and release his prisoners, and vindicate his captives into so glorious a liberty. And therefore doth he bestir himself, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, to retain not only the profane that are destitute of the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, but especially those that have a form of godliness in strict and religious walking, who yet deny in effect the gospel of free grace, which is the power thereof, because “it is the mighty power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth.” {Rom.1:16} Hence come these slanderous and calumnious imputations of Antinomianism, and Libertinism, in doctrine; and of looseness, and licentiousness in conversation; which vile slanders have been often cast, both upon this faithful witness of the Lord, and the embracers of that doctrine, whereunto we must needs answer in the Lord’s words, “the LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee; is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” {Zech.3:2} And in the words of the apostle, “O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” {Acts 13:10}

For was he, or are we indeed Antinomians, enemies to the Law? God forbid. Nay, we never were, we never could be truly friends with it, until it pleased the Lord to discover unto us the words of this Life. The Law looked upon us as an enemy, shaking over us continually the rod of God’s indignation, scourging and piercing our souls and consciences with scorpions, with menaces, with curses, with terrible and austere exactions, and that we had no strength. How then could we look upon it, but as upon a most bitter and implacable adversary? But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, who not according to works of righteousness that we have done, but according to his mercy hath saved us. After the Lord Jesus had taken the hand-writing that was against us, and nailed it to his cross, and exhibited a full satisfaction to all that the Law could demand of us, or lay to our charge; this only was able to settle us in an everlasting peace, and reconcilement with the Law. Right reckoning, men say, makes long friends; but when the creditor and debtor not only agree in their accounts, but also the debtor is able to produce a full acquittance for the uttermost farthing that was due, there can be no breach, no jarring between them. The case is ours, {everlasting praise and thanks be rendered unto the Lord our righteousness,} our acquittance is recorded everywhere in the Word of his Grace; Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. {Rom.10:4} Wherefore we are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, and delivered from the law. {Rom.7:4, 6} So that the Lord will remember our sins and iniquities no more. {Heb.10:17} For we are not under the law, but under grace; {Rom.6:14,15;} which is the most constant doctrine of that apostle; it is also sealed unto us by the blood of our Redeemer, inasmuch as the New Testament of grace is in force by the death of the Testator. {Heb.9:16,17}

But let them take heed of the just charge of Antinomianism, who when the law requireth a perfect fulfilling, and continuing in all things, {Gal.3:10,} will make it content with lame, imperfect performances; nay, it must accept the will for the deed, rather than they will be beholden for a full and free acceptance of wills and deeds, and all, unto the Beloved of the Lord, in whom the soul of the Lord is well pleased, and the faithful are freely accepted. Is not this to frustrate and make void the very end of a bond, to make it content with some few farthings, when so many thousands were due? Let them also take heed they be not guilty of Antinomianism, who take and leave what of the law they see good; who cut off the curse, the rigor, and all the punishment of it at one blow. Surely it is not easy to separate what God hath joined without good warrant from him. The apostle affirmeth, that whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them that are under it. He saith not something, but all whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them that are under it. So that there is never a curse in the law, which it doth not pronounce upon the head of him that is under it.

And our Saviour himself saith, that heaven and earth shall pass away, but “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law” till all be fulfilled. {Mt.5:18} Surely the curses are as much as one jot or tittle. He that should deny unto the laws of England the power to punish such offenders as are under them, might justly be thought and called an enemy to, and a destroyer of the laws of the land. But as for us, we make not void the law through faith, but establish it; we affirm that it remaineth in its full force and power, not only of commanding, but also of exacting, of terrifying, of cursing, and punishing every son of Adam that is under it, without the abatement of the least jot or tittle. And whether this be Antinomianism or no, let the church of Christ consider, and judge by the Word of Christ.

The next imputation they cast upon this faithful minister of Christ, and upon his doctrine, and his hearers, was that of Libertinism, whereby if they mean that doctrine which Calvin charges the Libertines withal, in his book against them, we may most truly say, it never entered into the heart of this author to embrace it, much less into his mouth to publish it. And if any hold, or spread any such horrid assertions, we do utterly disclaim them, they are none of us; we are as far, or farther from them, than the severest of those that labour to fasten this imputation upon us. But if they mean by Libertinism the preaching of the free grace in Christ, {even to them that have no worthiness to procure it, no goodness or dispositions to qualify them for it,} whereby the prisoners are brought out of the prison house, and the captives set at liberty, with that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, that we should not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage, {Gal.5:1,} which neither we, nor our fathers were able to bear; {Acts 15:10;} which, in a word, is freedom from sin, which is true liberty not to sin, for then it were slavery. If any teachers in Israel call this Libertinism, then we are sorry that they whose chief or only commission is to preach this gospel of the kingdom, {which only bringeth salvation to them and their hearers, if they be saved,} to the effecting this liberty in the consciences of the people, that so they might be helpers of their joy, should so far frustrate the end of the Father’s sending his Son into the world, {described here in Luke 4:18,19, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord;”} as to cast upon it such vile, reproachful and blasphemous aspersions. But as for us, the comfort of this doctrine is our crown and portion forever; for which we cannot cease but bless the Lord night and day.

He that saith this doctrine teacheth licentiousness, we are sure he is a stranger to it, and never felt the power of it in his own heart; for can anything else effectually teach to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, but this grace of God appearing? {Tit.2:11,12} Can any man truly find and prize this pearl of the kingdom, and not sell all that was of high esteem with him before? {Matt.13:46} Is there any other reason why we love God but because he hath so freely and abundantly loved us first? {I Jn.4:19} Doth not love manifested, as truly and infallibly kindle love again, as fire kindleth fire. {Song 8:6} Nay, rather the want of the more full and pure and powerful preaching of the Free Grace of Christ is the very root and ground of the continuance, in all sensuality and profaneness, in those that are notoriously wicked. For what can men do but catch at shadows and appearances of good, such as honors, and pleasures, and profits, and transgress for a morsel of bread, whilst they know not the glory of their own durable riches and righteousness, whilst the true substance is absent or covered, whilst Christ and his benefits are seldom, and coldly, and darkly proposed? It is the true cause also of all unbelief, self-love, and slavish fear in legal professors, and of all the evil fruits that spring from these roots of bitterness. For how can they believe, when they do not hear this Free Grace preached, but rather reviled and slandered? How can they cease from self-love, and seeking their own things, whilst they see not how infinitely, how all-sufficiently they are beloved of God their Father in Christ? And how can they be otherwise, but continually invested with slavish fear, when they are kept under by the spirit of bondage, when they may not dare for fear of presumption to be assured of God’s free love, and joyfully to apply Christ and his benefits unto themselves, from whom the Spirit of Adoption cometh, whereby we cry Abba Father? Or; if this assurance be allowed, it is upon such hard and high terms, that men must bring so much goodness to Christ, before they must dare to partake of him; that if a man will deal faithfully with himself, and not make lies his refuge, by making himself better than he is; he must needs be enforced to renounce all claim unto Christ, and to live in horror and despair all his days. Yea, the chief, or only cause of the weak and inordinate walking of the professors of the gospel, is not because they have received the doctrine of free grace; {for the devil labors to make men believe;} but because they have not received it so fully, so freely, and so abundantly, as it is plentifully held forth unto them in the word of the gospel. In a word, we entreat all those that are possessed with this groundless fear, that the preaching of free grace opens a way unto licentiousness, seriously to consider how contrary the divine reason of the apostle, {Rom.6:14,} is unto all their carnal reason, when he affirmeth that the cause why sin shall not have dominion over us; that is, why we shall not run out into all licentiousness, is “because we are not under the law but under grace.” The prudence and wisdom of man thinks quite contrary, that if men be not under the law, if they be not bridled, restrained, and kept in by the law, they must needs run into all uncleanness with greediness; but let God be true, and every man a liar; let the foolishness of God be wiser than men. He needs no instructor or counselor to teach him how effectually to work upon men; for he knows what is in man. {Jn.2:25}

So much for his doctrine; his life was in all things answerable to the honour and credit of the gospel, notwithstanding all those false and venomous slanders which some have made, and others have loved to hear and disperse; who have just cause to consider that which the Holy Ghost saith, “for without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” {Rev.22:15} For even before he was acquainted with the full purity of the gospel, whilst he went on in the ordinary legal way, he had an earnest desire and endeavour to glorify God, both in his life and doctrine, being adverse unto, and refusing all worldly pomp and advancements {whereunto he had an open door by the height of his parentage and friends} which others so insatiably hunted after with open months; and wholly dedicating himself to the preaching of the word, and to a sincere and conscientious practice of the same; so that he was altogether unblameable in his conversation, without the least tincture of any just imputation of viciousness among men; none being more and few so constant in preaching, in praying, in repeating; in performing public, family, and private exercises; in strict observation of the duties of the Lord’s day; and thus much concerning his conversation in times past knew all they among whom he lived, how that in this way he profited above his equals, {as the apostle saith of himself,} “being more exceeding zealous.” {Gal.1:13,14}

And after it pleased God, who had called him by his grace, to reveal his Son in him more clearly; he was so far from abating any part of his zeal of glorifying the Lord, that he rather doubled it, working now out of a more effectual principle than the spirit of bondage and fear, even “the spirit of power and love, and of a sound mind;” {II Tim.1:7;} rejoicing to spend and to be spent, if he might be but serviceable to the meanest of God’s people. So far was he from pride, vanity, and self-conceitedness, the very bane of these times, and so full of meekness, lowliness, and tender heartedness, that it appeared manifestly the Gospel of Christ had indeed a mighty influence, and operation upon him to the casting down of every high thought. Yea, he was so ravished with the love of Christ, and thereby with an earnest, free, and solicitous care of advancing his name, that he seemed to regard nothing besides, preaching the word freely, where there could be no expectation of advantage; and in such a way, as instead of credit, he could look for nothing but revilings and persecution, wherein some proceeded so far as not to allow him a little learning; a plain testimony they have not gone so far in true mortification, and a vile esteem of themselves, as they would have the world believe. Human learning is a mean thing for a minister of the gospel to boast of. The great Doctor of the Gentiles laid it under his feet in comparison to the knowledge of Christ, desiring to know among God’s people, “nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified;” yet was he not in any thing inferior to the very chiefest, though in his own esteem he was nothing. And I doubt not but there is written such a testimonial of his learning in your hearts, as few others can produce; if the Holy Ghost by the Prophet Isaiah may be judge of learning, “the Lord GOD,” saith he, “hath given me the tongue of the learned,” what is that, but “that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” {Is.50:4} O how many weary spirits did the Lord by his ministry revive! Surely, if this be learning, the Lord gave him no ordinary measure; and indeed his whole life was so innocent and harmless from all evil, so zealous and fervent in all goodness, that it seems to be set forth as a manifest practical argument, to confute the slanders of Satan against the most holy faith which he preached.

So after his natural strength was insensibly spent in the service of the Lord by such constant and laborious preaching, praying, repeating and studying, oftentimes whole nights, to the impairing and ruining his vital powers, it pleased the Lord to call him by his last visitation unto his eternal rest; wherein there appeared {both by the whole course of his behavior in it, but especially by those gracious words, and joyful exaltations which continually proceeded out of his mouth} such faith, such joy, such a quiet and appeased conscience, such triumph over death and hell, as made the bystanders amazed. And withal, he forgot not {considering the cunning of Satan, and the lying power of darkness} to profess before some present the steadfastness of his faith to this effect, “that as he had lived in the free grace of God through Christ, so he did with confidence and great joy, even as much as his present condition was capable of, resign his life and soul into the hands of his most dear Father.” And so without the least thought of recanting or renouncing the doctrine he had preached {as some have falsely and wickedly spread abroad} after some time, with continual flowing expressions of joy, he departed this life, into the assured everlasting embraces of his Redeemer. And now gracious Lord, who only art the Author and Finisher of our faith, be pleased more and more to enlighten the eyes, and open the mouths of all thy ministers, that they may not shun or be afraid to declare unto thy people the whole council of God, even the utter disability and nothingness of man; and withal the freeness of thy grace, the plenteousness of thy redemption, and thy salvation, to the uttermost; that the hearts of thy people may rejoice; and their joy no man may take away from them. Amen.

So prayeth, the meanest of the Servants of Christ,
Robert Landcaster
Preface to Volume 1 - 1643 Edition

To All Those That Live Godly In Christ

Precious Hearts; it is your honor, above many professors in the world, to seal in your sufferings the most refreshing and ennobling truths of Christ. Your life which is hid with Christ in God is that spark of glory which hath always attracted the most venomous envies of those men who make the flesh their residence. Be confident of this, that did you live in yourselves, you should live more quietly in the world; were you lower as saints, you should be higher as creatures. Never expect to build peaceably upon earth, while you lay not your foundation in the dust; the carnal mind cannot but be enmity against that which is the basis of your principles, suitable to that expression of our Saviour, “the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” {Jn.17:14} It hath ever been the policy of usurpers, to keep down those which can justly prove their decent from the royal blood, lest they and their ill-gotten glory fall together; so those that have unduly invested themselves with the title of saints, presently contend for a room in the seat of the scornful to disparage and destroy those who can clearly show their communion with a higher blood than their own; where Christ doth most sweetly and clearly reign, there the flesh will most presumptuously and cruelly tyrannize. However {saints} though it be your Father’s pleasure to allot you the valley of the shadow of death for flesh to walk in, whilst your condition is in its infancy, yet know, that your glorious union with the Son of God shall be more than enough in this state to refresh and secure you; the world may outrun you, and come first to the top of their glory; but surely in the end, the inheritance will be yours; their first shall be last, and your last shall be first. Esau out-wrestles Jacob in the womb, and comes first into the world, and according to the signification of his name, he is a great doer, a cunning hunter he was; but Jacob that comes forth last, takes the game; Esau was the first-born, but Jacob goes away possessed of the birth-right and blessing also. Thus doth your Father deal with you to make your latter end in brightness to outshine your beginning; neither will your God deny your bread here in the midst of famine; heaven rains manna in a wilderness, the rock gives water in the heat of drought. Believe it {you Gospel Christians} your Beloved shall be all to you in the want of all; that possession which he hath in you, will forever entitle you, “a spring shut up, and a fountain sealed;” he will be in you an Everlasting Head for your supply to all expenses in all conditions, when the moisture of everything below Him shall be exhausted by the creatures, which suck all they have from thence, even then, and so to eternity, shall Jesus Christ be to you in the height of his fullness. I know nothing you have that is long-lived but Jesus Christ. Earth, more grossly carnal, and the heavens more refinedly carnal, shall pass away; even the kingdom of heaven, so far as it is made up of forms and administrations, shall wither and die; but the kingdom of God within you shall never be shaken. That divine nature which hath swallowed you up shall forever satisfy you with variety of contentments. Let not therefore your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in Christ; you are satisfied, that the fullness of all things dwells in God, be also convinced that Jesus Christ, by his Father’s appointment, is made partaker of the same fullness; “for it pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell.” Now, whatever Jesus Christ hath as a Mediator, you, in your measure enjoy; for it is the great ordinance of God, that all the saints should be sharers and partners with Jesus Christ; we are fellow-citizens with Him, and so interested in the immunities and privileges of the same charter with Him; that as in our first estate we had all which Adam had, so also in our second, we have all which Christ hath; why then doth paleness appear in your faces, and trembling sit upon your lips? As if in the frowns of the creature all your felicity was buried. Oh remember you are one spirit with Him, whose presence is a constant spring, in a vision of whose glory your beauty will be always lovely. I leave it as my humble request to you, that you would not forget your resting-place; for the least ignorance of that will make you apprehend every condition full of anxiety. This was that which was the bottom of Israel’s misery. “They have {saith the text} forgotten their resting-place;” {Jer.50:6;} or, their place to lie down in, as the original will bear it. If you make the creatures, or your ordinance privileges, or your duties, or your own righteousness to be your resting-places, the least disturbance in the pursuit of all, or any of these, will be very grievous and distracting; but if the Spirit enables you to remember Christ to be your rest, who is the rest of God, trouble upon any of your enjoyments below Himself will not have an uncomely influence upon you. To see a man fretting and vexing, that whilst he was riding his journey, noises did keep him waking, would evince our reason to believe that this man had forgotten that his resting-place was somewhere else; so to see you, whilst you were in your travel, discontented at that unquietness wherewith you are infested, would bring you under this suspicion, that you had forgotten your resting-place. Israel expected beds in the wilderness, when God had appointed Canaan to be their rest, and this was the ground of all their murmurings against God’s dispensations. Oh that the Spirit therefore would always in the midst of sin and misery, lead you to the Rock that is higher than yourselves, or anything you esteem above yourselves. Many, as they create troubles, so also create remedies; even such, which God never sealed; many times we sin, and then endeavor to make use of sin for a cure; we break a command of God, and then call upon some duty or other fix below Christ, to make up that breach; and thus we bring a double pain and vexation upon ourselves. When a wound is made by a weapon, a contrary plaster applied, makes it more incapable of cure than it was before; so it is with all distempers in your souls, by reason of sin; if you look upon any beside the brazen Serpent, your distemper will return with double vigor upon you. But certainly, one vision of Jesus Christ will bid defiance to the stoutest of your lusts, and all the powers of darkness combined with them, and in an encounter will more than conquer them. The host of Israel was very great and well prepared for the battle, but if ever the day be won, David must come into the field. Our fastings and prayers appear a huge host, but they will rather gaze upon than engage against an enemy, if Jesus Christ be not in the field; but the very countenance of Jesus Christ doth soon still the enemy and the avenger, and makes all the issue of sin in the soul to prove abortive. The marrow of this you have clearly laid open in the demonstration of the Spirit, in the following Sermons, which I am confident, to all that are led by the Spirit, will be a full vindication of the truth of Christ, and of the worthy Author from those base aspersions cast upon both by pride and ignorance. You shall find the sum of this Work, to be the sole exaltation of the Lord Jesus in saints and duties, and the debasing and trampling upon all flesh that shall aspire to the seat of Christ; the reviving and encouraging of drooping hearts, by presenting Christ, not themselves, in all his accomplishments to them. Now, if the world shall baptize this doctrine Antinomianism, the Lord grant that all the doctrine preached throughout the world, may deservedly be called by that name. Ye that know Christ, be not afraid, notwithstanding all the censures of the world, to read the book, and receive the truth; be assured it is not presented to thee as a bait, which is an introduction to a snare, but if the spirit of Christ accompany it, thou wilt certainly say, as Christ did, “I have meat to eat which ye know not of.” I should rather cloud the work, than honor it, if I should proceed to a further commendation of it. I leave it therefore to the Spirit to make out the worth of it to the spirits of the saints, and am concluded under this faith, that all the malice and carnal wisdom of this generation shall never be able to interrupt the course of it. As for the Author, though he never was known to me, yet those writings of his which I have perused, do encourage me to believe that whilst he lived in the world, he lived in God, and now his earthly tabernacle being dissolved, he is taken up into that fullness which he only saw in part whilst he lived here; and though whilst he was upon earth, it might be his portion, with his Lord and Master, to be mocked and buffeted in the High Priest’s hall, yet now sits with him in the fruition of that glory for which he was then a sufferer. What now remains, but that ye which through the Spirit have tasted the sweetness of his ministry in the same spirit, look up to our Father, and beg of him, that those who survive in the work of the gospel, may go on where he left, and in the plentiful effusion of the Spirit, the glorious truths of Christ may be amongst the saints, as the sun in its height? And among the rest, forget not him {though unworthy to be numbered with them} who is ambitious of nothing else, but to be All in Christ, and nothing in self;

George Cokayn
April 13, 1646.
Preface to Volume 3 - 1646 Edition

To the Impartial Reader

Reader; truth needs no shield to shelter it; her own bare breasts are armor of proof against all daring darts of ignorance and pride; and therefore walks fearless in the midst of all those torrents of bitter words; whoever vaunts in putting on his harness? Truth only triumphs in putting it off; this never quits the field without the Garland; for God that calleth to the combat carrieth on with a conquering hand; the gates of hell assault, but prevail not; for we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. The Prince of the air musters up his forces, and retreats; his black guard falls on with him, and are shamefully beaten back; kings, with their armies flee before it; the powers of darkness, like Jehu, march against it, furiously they attempt, they storm, but at the brightness that is before this Sun, the thick clouds remove; one of truth subverts the tents of darkness. What is stronger than truth, whose going out is as the morning, and riseth up to a glorious day? That ancient Emblem is a true Image of truth; a candle in a Lantern upon an high hill, beleaguered with tempestuous blasts, hangs out the flag of defiance, with this motto, Nisi Dominus Frusta; that is “except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” {Ps.127:1} It is but lost labour to dig a trench about that city for which the Lord hath appointed salvation for walls and bulwarks; but though it be secured from subversion, yet it is not protected from opposition. You know how it went with Christ; was not his cradle cut out of the same wood of which his cross was made? His first entrance upon the stage of this world foreshadowed a black day at his departing; his sudden flight into Egypt from Herod’s barbarous jealousy was but the Prologue to that sad tragedy, {a sad tragedy indeed to the carnal perception of those that put him to death,} which he ended on Mount Calvary; nor may his children or servants expect better entertainment; bonds or afflictions, or both, abide them that are faithful; they have called the Master an impostor, or glutton, Beelzebub; and is the servant above his Lord? I know this servant of truth hath had his share in suffering for it; envious men pursue those that out-go them; a Pharisee will stone any, even Christ, that shall presume to teach them beyond their old divinity. Much dirty gear hath been cast upon the Author of this book, which, if it could have fastened on him, I were {by special engagements} bound to wipe it off; but a false tongue cannot make a guilty person; Rabsheka’s railing made no breach in Jerusalem’s walls. Christ alone must be exalted, and all flesh made his foot-stool.

But there be some who seek to darken the wisdom of God with the words of men, and draw a specious veil over divine mysteries, that so {it may be not intentionally} understanding is hid from the simple; these make a fair show in the flesh. But I had rather see the king in his plainest clothes than his fool in a painted coat. Where is the scribe? Where is the wise? Where is the disputer of this world? The loftiness of man must be laid low, his glory buried in the dust, all his perfections come to an end; but if thou desirest to see truth in a comely dress, and clear complexion, thou mayest have a full view thereof in this ensuing discourse. Say not the treatise is too small to contain so vast a subject, but rather admire his skill that discovers so much of heaven through so small a perspective. We applaud their art that contract the wide world into the narrow compass of a slender map; what a deal of worth is in a little diamond? How do men prize the dust of gold? Despise not small things; say not it is a little book; a little star may light thee to Christ; great bodies have most humours; grosser volumes commonly are thickened with too much earth. If thou ask what is in this? I answer, as the voice once spake to Austin, Tolle Lege; {that is, take up and read;} or as Philip to Nathaniel, “Come and see.” If I should say all that I know of the author, some that know me would say that I flatter him, because of my relation to him in his life, though I know there is little to be gotten by dead men’s favour. But this I shall be bold to affirm, there is no Antinomianism in the title or tract; and from all vicious licentiousness of life, and scandalous aspersions cast on his person by lying lips, I stand upon my own experience, and more than twelve years knowledge to vindicate him; let the father of lies, and all his brood, come forth to make good their charge against him. I fear not to appear in his cause; yea, if I should not open my mouth in his behalf, whose industry and integrity God and his saints have so much approved, and from whose labours and yoke-fellow I have reaped so much comfort, if yet I should be silent, I desire to be marked with a black coal.

Try him now, and judge; thou wilt find no poison in his hive; no serpent lurks under his leaves. Take up and read; come, and see whether Jesus of Nazareth be not here; not sealed up in a sepulchre, and guarded with a rude train to keep his disciples from him, as the High Priests used to do; but thou shalt find him in his garden, opening his fountain, blowing on his spices, leading into his banqueting-house, staying with flagons, comforting on every side; thou shalt find more in this book than I will promise; only be persuaded to peruse it; if thou lovest thy rest, read it; for here is news of dry land, footing for thy soul, the Olive branch doth witness it; fear not, be not dismayed; the waters are abated; let not thy sloth make thee guilty of thy misery. Will not the weather-beaten mariner employ all his strength and oars to thrust into a quiet harbour? Is anything more desired by the chased hart than the cooling streams? How do men, pursued by the enemy, rejoice in the shelter of a strong hold? Can anything be more welcome to a notorious offender, justly condemned, than a gracious pardon? Is not God and his righteousness all this, and much more to a poor creature in such conditions? Behold a haven, a brook, a tower, a pardon, a full, a free pardon, a ransom for thy soul; the righteousness of God breaking through the sides, the hands, the heart of Christ, to make way to thee, to revive thy dying, drooping, bleeding heart. Incline thine ear, hearken for time to come; hear, and thy soul shall live; forsake not thine own mercies to observe lying vanities; lean not to the reeds of Egypt, when thou hast the rod of God’s strength put into thy hand. Shall there be a price in the hand, and no heart to it? It may be thy feet have not yet stumbled, though thou hast walked on the hills of earth, the mountains of the world, the high mountains of the flesh, thy way hath been smooth and easy; so is the wild ass’s till her month overtake her; thy conscience, perhaps, hath fancied some shadow of peace by the dull glimmering of an earthly spark; but they that walk in that light, at last lie down in sorrow. {Isaiah 1:11}

Be not proud therefore, but give glory to God, before he cause darkness, before he turn your light into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness; that darkness that might be felt was not the least of the Egyptian plagues. What greater torment than the conscience once sensible of being destitute of the light of life? The author’s aim is to lead thee into Goshen, to guide thy feet into the way of peace; follow him, walk in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham, that faith, of which circumcision was no cause, nor evidence to himself; for he had it, and he knew he had it, before he was circumcised; by this faith he gave glory to God; we give glory to the robe of God’s righteousness, when we put none of our own under it to make it sit uneasy, nor wear any of our own upon it, to obscure the full glory of it; thou wilt find this garment the best fashion, and as well held forth by this, as by any man, whose intentions were to cover all blemishes, all sins, to hide all deformity with it; yet to shelter no lust, nor sin under it. I might launch out into his life, and call in all his practice to prove it; but till more need require, I shall refer thee to Mr Lancaster in his preface to the first volume, and to the present trial of his doctrine. Let a Christian heart moderate a critical eye, and find fault that can. The God that once breathed the rich knowledge of himself through the frail organs of this earthen vessel, into the ears of those that heard him, now dart a greater glory of his righteousness and grace into the eyes of all their understandings that shall read him.

I know I can add no worth to this work; it is of divine value, it hath the stamp of heaven, the image of God is on it; the author is gone home, and yet living with the Lord, though some think the saints die, and like the wicked, leave a stink behind them. I deny not the mortality of any, nor need I hang this man's hearse with odoriferous encomiums; yet he that visits his friend, though never so godly, in the grave, had need take a little frankincense in his hand, if he be buried among men; all the air in the world is so contagiously infected with the stinking breath of the living, that you cannot come near the dead without a bundle of myrrh. Malice and madness like a gangrene stands at the tomb and tent of every blessed soul, crying, “touch me not.” Of all men, one would have thought so sweet a man as Christ had needed no spices in his sepulchre; for he did no evil, and he saw no corruption; yet Joseph would not inter his body without sweet odours, though Mary had bestowed a whole box of precious ointment on his feet in his life-time, but a little before his burial. Let the saints walk never so wisely, warily, circumspectly; let them keep their feet as clean, as sweet as they can, they had need of their winding sheet and coffin perfumed; I say not with the parasitical smoke of a perfumed oration, but with a just vindication of their innocency as occasion shall require. But I hope there will be need of no engagement from me this way in the author’s behalf; for his two last sermons in this volume are a clear vindication of him from those common aspersions laid upon him and the doctrine he preached, which for that reason amongst others, has now come into the world before their full growth, the author being taken away before he could bring forth all his conceptions in the pursuit of those two subjects; which we desire the reader candidly to accept as the last breathings forth of the spirit in that precious saint whilst he was below. But if this stops not the mouth of envy, I shall not think any cost too great to raise up and continue the memory of truth’s favourites and friends; nor esteem any labour too much, whereby I may approve myself the friend and servant of Christ Jesus and his church, otherwise than which {by God’s grace} thou shalt never find.

The Subject of Christ,
and Servant of his Saints,
Henry Pinnell
Preface to Volume 3 - 1646 Edition

To The Christian Reader

To such I recommend a few lines; and if thou art a Christian indeed, then Christ is all in all to thee. And though the pure streams of the light, life, and love of God in Christ Jesus, be most sweet to thee, as they come flowing fresh, as living honey from the honey-comb, the Scriptures; yet I know the discussion of divine truths, by those that have had the richest experiences of them, will be grateful to you, when you find, that as face answers face in a glass, so these following discourses answer the heavenly sense and relish you have had at any time of the love of Jesus in your soul.

I find myself somewhat concerned to say somewhat of this new edition, and an addition of my father’s sermons. As thus; I was some months since surprised with a letter from Mr. Marshall, the undertaker, to reprint all my father’s sermons in one volume, he desiring subscription for a set of them. I wondered that such a work should be set about by a mere stranger, after so many years, {about forty-five,} that they had filled many minds, some with admiration, and some with contempt of the free grace of God exemplified therein. But, joyful I was, that what had refreshed many souls forty-five years ago, might, through the good hand of God, be of great use in these days, seeing that the Lord Jesus is hastening to call all to a sad account that stand out and reject the testimony of his grace.

I considering that as the time when these sermons were preached and first printed, 1642 and 1643, was as sad a time as this nation knew for many years; when a violent storm of an outrageous civil war did rage in the bowels of the kingdom. So that every day people looked to be slain by the merciless sword; which called for consolatory discourses for the people of God; which God eminently assisted my father to preach, with great acceptance to thousands that flocked to hear him from place to place, in this great city of London, twice every Lord’s-day, and to his house, to the repetition of them at night; until his abundant service therein cost him his life. He being snatched away in the height of his glorifying the free grace of God in Christ, to be glorified by it in the midst of his days, at the age of forty-two, on the 27th of February, 1642. I say, as that was a time that these discourses were of all times most necessary, death hanging immediately over the heads of all; so now the inculcating this great point, is of as much, if not more use; when not only judgment upon all unsound professors is hastening, but at this latter day of the world, a new gospel, or a sort of Grotian Divinity, hath obtained among the generality of professors, joining man’s righteousness with Christ’s for salvation; and saying plainly, our good works concur to our justification, directly contrary to the Apostle, “that by the works of the law shall no man be justified.” And I challenge any man to show me a good work that is not the work of the law; for if not from God’s law, he will say, who required it at your hand? Which considered, made me conclude, the republishing these discourses may comfort and settle many souls. Whereupon I gladly accepted the bookseller’s motion to assist in reprinting them; provided he would add to them several other sermons that have not been yet printed, which I would transcribe out of my father’s own notes; which I desired him to do on two accounts.

First, to set forth more of the glorious free grace of God, in what is added. And, secondly, to remove some reflections cast on my father’s discourses; as if his advancing free grace, tended to suppress good works, which was far from his, as it also is from every good Christian’s thoughts. For who but a devil, or his children will say, “let us sin that grace may abound,” or because a good blessed prince hath, with the hazard of his life, rescued us from slavery, therefore we will spit in his face. Therefore to show that my father was not of that spirit, I have transcribed, from his notes, these following discourses, to be printed with his other sermons; namely, an ample discourse, being the subject of several sermons, preached at Brinkworth, {where his lot was cast,} on Titus 2:11,12; showing therein, “how grace in Christ to sinners teacheth godliness, not licentiousness.” Another on Galatians 3:19, on “the use of the law.” A third is a funeral sermon of Mr. Brunsell, a minister, on Galatians 1:8, “though an angel preach any other doctrine, let him be accursed.” A strange text for a funeral sermon; but shows, that Mr. Brunsell, giving my father that text, was of my father’s opinion, that “Christ alone is to be exalted,” notwithstanding men’s carping at the doctrine of free grace. The last is the heads of a preparatory sermon; to the people at Brinkworth, to a solemn fast, July 8th, 1640, which is a subject so rarely treated on, or practiced, I concluded, that as it might convince any unprejudiced person of my father’s strictness to the height in holy performances, {yet not making them the main grounds of his comfort,} so it would be very grateful to those in the ministry, who may meet with it, and to show how strictly those called Puritans of old, {of whom my father was accounted none of the least,} exercised themselves in godliness.

Now that these are my father’s own discourses I fully satisfy any thus, that I know the hand-writing of these discourses is his own hand-writing, {being in his own books, and being in the same hand that all the former printed sermons of his are of, and agrees with all the other writings I have of his,} as much as I know any man’s face I have been long acquainted with. So that I do no more question them to be my father’s genuine offspring, than I do that once there was a Queen Elizabeth in England.

And moreover, in transcribing them, most of the similes which my father used came fresh to my mind; they having made a deep impression on my tender memory, when I heard them, being then about seven years old; especially the preparation to a day of humiliation. I do as well remember the solemnity thereof, forty-nine years ago, as if it had been but last year. So that I can, and do testify, that they were really {and are faithfully transcribed from} his own notes. Now that they all may be as satisfactory to you in perusing, as these last have, through God’s goodness, been to me in transcribing, is my hearty desire.

It doth not comport with common modesty, nor can it be expected, I should put encomiums on these discourses, though much may be said of multitudes that have owed, some their spiritual birth, others their soul refreshments to those sermons, under God. Neither can I avouch so much skill in disputes, as to maintain a scholastic defense, in opposition to the arguments, that some, more learned than evangelical scholars, have or may raise against them, as mere controversy is unproductive; so neither of the soul’s satisfaction in divine truths. All must be left to the Author of all grace, to soften some, and harden the obstinate, by those divine testimonies of this servant of the Lord in the ministry. And many hundreds that have tasted that the Lord is gracious, in solacing their souls with the things transmitted here to the world, have been better satisfied in the truths of the gospel, herein laid down, in a plain familiar style, than if they had been averred by the most learned arguments of reason, from the princes of the world, by human wisdom only.

I know these sermons have had hard censures put on them by some persons of great learning; I wish they had better learned Christ, for then they would not have quarreled at the honour ascribed to him by my father. If learning must take the upper hand of divinity, then Antichristian, Socinian, Pelagian, Arminian doctrines would have jostled out Christianity long since; for who more scholastically learned than Antichrist’s Doctors, and yet who greater dunces, like Nicodemus, in Christ’s school, where we are to account all our own righteousness, much more our learning, dung, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. God will ever make it good, that the poor of the world, for parts and self-excellency, are chosen by him to be rich in faith; while the rich, with their gifts and parts, are most of them sent empty away. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, and the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, {be his parts ever so great,} neither can he know them. A blind man may as well dispute the colors in the rainbow, or the deaf man of sounds, as the graceless scholar of the wisdom of God in a mystery which none of the princes of this world knew; or of Christ in his members their hope of glory. But I have so much charity as to believe, that some that have aspersed these sermons, are persons of real true piety, and eminently devout; to which it may be said, it is no wonder, when we find many devout ones bandied against the apostle Paul, Acts 13:16. And there were many true disciples, believers in Christ, that had not so much as heard whether there be a Holy Ghost. Acts 19:1,2. But blessed be God, though some sour spirits were busy, when these sermons were first exhibited to the world; God hath been graciously pleased to send forth many sons of consolation since, of whose labors in the ministry, I have been a happy partaker, and whereof I may say, that of 5200 discourses I have by me, {besides many lost,} taken from the lips of several gospel preachers, such as famous Dr. Goodwin, Dr. Owen, Dr. Wilkinson, Mr. Christopher Fowler, that great lover of our Lord Jesus, and exalter of his righteousness alone in the matter of justification, I can scarce reckon six of the 5200 that do oppose the doctrines my father asserted.

Now I shall conclude, after I have given a note or two from a scripture, suitable to the calling God set me in; which is Matthew 13:45,46; “again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls; who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” That this pearl is our Lord Jesus Christ none questions; but this selling all for him is much questioned, though not by those that find him. The Papist, Socinian and Arminian, apprehending some excellency in themselves, they will be wise merchants indeed, but make God a very silly one; they will barter with God, and give him their rotten rags, their dung-righteousness for his pearl, and eternal glory, and so put a cheat upon the all-wise God; but he will not be mocked. But the truly wise merchant considers how richly he was set up, God making him upright in Adam, but the subtle broker, the devil, deceived him, and he willfully threw away his stock upon the serpent’s suggestion, for the shadows of knowledge of good and evil. He sees the longer he trades upon his own skill, the more bankrupt he is; and for all the vast debt he owes, he hath nothing to pay God his great creditor, but a warehouse full of counterfeit, rotten, decayed filth, fit only for the dunghill. At length this dreadful bewildered merchant hears of a wonderful pearl dropped from the heavenly Indies, offered to such poor broken merchants as will accept him without money or money’s worth. {Is.55:1} He being ravished with the glorious radiancy thereof, shining with enraptured translucency into his heart; this merchant, by the all-conquering power of the Spirit, is brought to see into what a wretched condition he hath brought himself, by feeding on the poisoned drugs of his own works, and clothing himself with the filthy rags, the spider’s webs he spun out of his own bowels. He having found this inestimable pearl, the pearl having first found him, {we loving him, because he loved us first,} he sells all, he parts with all, he renounces all, his whole stock, “accounting all loss and dung for Christ.” {Phil.3:9} As he buys without money or price, so he sells without money or price; he lays all his sins upon the Lord Jesus Christ; that is, he sees by faith the Lord laid upon him the iniquity of us all, and now gives up himself to be accepted in the Beloved, his sins to be pardoned in Christ’s blood, his services to be first washed, then accepted in the same justifying blood and righteousness of Christ. Thus having parted with all, he now, upon the gospel summons, buys this pearl of great price; that is, comes to Christ, receives Christ, believes in Christ, as his alone treasure, riches, store, life, righteousness, beauty, wisdom, strength, and all, in him, to him, for him. This pearl now makes him a man again, with this pearl he pays all his debts, he answers the law in all its demands, only by showing that this great, good pearl is his; he now is free from all arrests in his conscience, he comes to the Exchange {to communion with God} again, he hath credit now into all countries, especially in the heavenly Indies, whither, by virtue of this pearl, he draws his bills of exchange every post day, that is, morning and evening, and at all times, by faith and prayer, where his bills have good acceptance, and always, when need is, they are paid at sight, with gracious tokens of love and favour. Now this merchant drives a full tumbling trade, his pearl whithersoever he turns it, turns all into grace and glory, he himself being changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord. This I take to be selling all for this pearl, as the Apostle did. {Phil.3:8,9}

But some will be caviling; what horrid boldness it is for any, when he is reeking in sin, to lay hold on Christ, upon his call? But if such were in the condition that a nephew of mine was in, that fell from the ship into the sea, when the ship was sailing, he would say otherwise. If the master of the vessel should cast out a rope for him to catch at, to rescue him; would he say, Sir, I am not worthy; I fell overboard when I was smeared with pitch and tar, and I am not clean enough to come on board again? Sure all the world would think such an one mad. And is it madness not to accept of a temporal deliverance upon an idle conceit; I am not worthy of it? And is it not much more madness, not to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, and salvation by him, because we are full of sin? Methinks all should conclude we are under the greater necessity to fly for refuge to him. For preaching which doctrine, my dear father was maligned by some, when living. Though God supported him wonderfully, even to his dying moment, in the lively sense of God’s being most glorified, in the highest exaltations of his freest grace to the worst of sinners. Insomuch, that a few moments before his departure out of this world, he spake to friends, by his bedside, saying “where are all those that dispute against the free grace of God, and what I have taught thereof? I am now ready to answer them all;” and so thus fell asleep in Christ. “Thus saith the Lord GOD; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear.” {Ez.3:27} So rests;

Samuel Crisp
Clapham, October 28, 1689.
Preface to 1690 Edition