The Puritan Era – Farewell Sermons
Jenkin’s (Jenkyn’s) Farewell Sermon – Sermon 1.
Mr. Jenkin’s Forenoon Sermon Preached August 17, 1662
by William Jenkin
Heb. 11:38, The former part of that verse, “Of whom the world was not worthy.”
The apostle in this excellent chapter, (that by some is deservedly called a little book of martyrs) discovers the triumph of faith, or victory against all difficulty we meet with.
I. Faith assents to truths be they never so improbable.
II. It puts men upon duties, be they never so irrational, or against carnal interest.
III. It enables to sufferings, be they never so afflictive. These worthies went through all by the victory that overcame the world, the bitterness as well as the sweetness thereof.
In these verses the apostle doth two things: 1. He sets down the greatness and smartness of their sufferings, which are by some learned men reduced to three heads.
First, those sufferings that were to tempt them, and draw them from God, by those pains and tortures they were to undergo.
Secondly, those sufferings they underwent in dying.
Thirdly, their sufferings in regard of wandering, and leaving their comforts, rather than they would lose God.
There were all kinds of persecutions laid upon these saints, through all which they waded, and never would be brought to forsake God and his truth for any of them.
2. We have here the excellency of the sufferers, and that is in that expression: these men, or these persons, when they were under all these distresses from the world, yet they were such of whom the world was not worthy.
Brethren, the excellency of these saints and servants of God is considerable two ways, that we may proceed distinctly and clearly.
First, in reference to the wicked; their excellency was »o great that the wicked world was not worthy of them.
Secondly, their excellency is discovered from the estimate or judgment that the apostle passes upon them, who tells us, that he accounted them to be such; though they were under such distresses, and troubles, yet they were a people of whom the world was not worthy.
I shall fall upon the due estimation the blessed apostle raises upon these persecuted saints, who was enlightened by the spirit of God, and so was able to pass a right sentence upon these persecuted saints. From this I raise this ensuing observation.
Observe. “That a godly man doth see a very great worth and excellency in the people of God, in the midst of all ,their troubles and distress; or, that a godly man, a gracious heart, one that hath spiritual spectacles, does see an excellency and worth in the people of God, in the midst of all trouble and persecution that can befall them.” Here I shall handle it first doctrinally, according to my constant method, then come to improve it by way of application. For the doctrinal handling of it, there are two things must be discovered.
First, wherein the high estimation of a gracious heart does appear, wherein it doth discover itself, wherein they shew they have such an high estimation.
Secondly, whence it is, and how it comes to pass, that godly men have this high and honourable esteem of the saints and people of God in their troubles and distresses which befall them.
For the first, wherein the high estimation of a gracious heart does appear, I shall shew it in five or six following particulars.
First, it appears in this, in that they are not ashamed of owning their persons and faith, that they profess in their troubles and distresses. The society of the people of God, and the fellowship of the faith and profession, is highly respected by a gracious heart, let the saints lie under never so great distresses. This is manifested in Moses, in the 25th and 26th verses of this chapter t( He chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy all the pleasures and preferments of Pharaoh’s court.” The Israelites’ religion, the profession of the truth of God, and owning the faith and those truths the Israelites stood up for, this was that which Moses would not desert: and thence it was he did not desert their company and society, but went and visited them when they lay under those burthens under which they lay.
Secondly, the second thing wherein is discovered so high an estimation of the saints and people of God in suffering, is, their sympathizing and fellow-feeling with them iu their suffering. If it goes ill with the church and people of God, all the rest sympathize with them; if one member suffers, all the rest suffers: instance Nehemiah (who had the greatest favour of the greatest prince then on the earth) he looks with a sad countenance, because of the sufferings of the saints and people of God, Neh. ii. 2. “Wherefore, the king said unto me, why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, and answered the king, because of the distresses the people of God lie under.” The pleasure of music should never be with him, says David, Psal, cxxxvii. 5. “If I do not remember thee, let ’my tongue cleave to the roof of my month, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” As it is with two strings in an instrument rightly tuned, if one be touched, the other trembles, if one servant of Christ be in a suffering condition, the rest suffers with him. This is the damp of all worldly delight, if it be ill with any of the people of God, the rest suffers in the way of compassion.
Thirdly, in that they can plead for them, and take their parts, when they are never so much out of favour, when they are never so much despised and abused. This was in the case of Jonathan, how he pleaded for poor David before his cruel father Saul, though Saul called him a cursed son, and fell foul on his mother because of him. See this in the case of Esther, though it was death to go into the king to plead for the Jews, yet for all this she says, “If I perish, I perish, resolved I am, come what will come of it, in I will go, I can die, but I cannot be silent.
Fourthly, in that they will relieve them, and help and supply them with all needful good things they can, if they cannot do what they would, they will do for them what they can. See this in the case of Jeremiah, chap. xxviii. v. 8, 11, 12, 13. Ebedmelech went forth of the king’s house and spake to the king, “So Ebedmelech took the man with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old clouts, and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah. And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, put now these old cast clouts, and rotten rags under thine arm-holes, under the cord?. And Jeremiah did so, so they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him out of the dungeon, &c. Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.” He would never be quiet till he got the prophet out of the dungeon, and though the cords were lined with rags, yet more with love and this favour of Ebedmelech, God remembered. 1 Kings xviii 4. Obadiah’s master was not only an oppressor of the saints and prophets of God, but a very great persecutor. This good man Obadiah took and hid four hundred prophet of the Lord, and fed them with bread and water.” (I will not undertake to prophesy to you this day, yet time may come when bread and water may be good food for a faithful prophet.) Here note the gracious disposition of good Obadiah, as well as the providence of God in this act, 2 Tim. i. 16, 17, 18. “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain. But when he was in Rome, be sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him, that he may find mercy of the. Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.” A most admirable scripture to this purpose: blessed Paul being thrown into prison, being in bonds, Onesiphorus often refreshed him, and was not ashamed of his chains. How did he shew this? When he was in Rome, besought him out diligently. By the way note, that Rome was the place where the cruel Nero was emperor, it was the place where much blood of the martyrs was spilt, yet there this good man sought out Paul diligently. Mark what follows, which is the prayer of Paul, “The Lord grant to him that; he may find mercy of the Lord in that day.” I profess sirs, I had rather have the prayer of Paul, than the preferments of the greatest court on earth. Christians, it is the greatest treasure in your house, to have the prayers of good men to God for you, you that have shewn your great and abundant love to the saints and servants of God in distress, I do from my soul, beg mercy for you, that whatever you have done for his, may be ten thousand times made up by him, that you may find mercy in that day; and truly, sirs, in that day mercy will be worth receiving.
Fifthly, They supplicate to God for them; they do not go to the throne of grace for themselves, but Sion is in their thoughts. I am confident it is so with some, and am persuaded it is so with all; they never beg daily bread for themselves, but they remember Sion. In the 51st Psalm, David was under trouble of conscience, soul- trouble, which is the soul of trouble; yet, at the latter end of the 51st Psalm, he breaks out into this earnest supplication to God, “Do good in thy good pleasure unto Sion, build thou up the walls of Jerusalem.” So long as it is ill with the people of God, so long they are earnest with God; and though they cannot overcome men with their prayers (which by the way. they are to endeavour) yet they will never leave supplicating the Almighty, till they have overcome. As the sufferings of God’s people are precious in the sight of God, so they are in the sight of the people of God, I come now to shew whence it is, that there is such an high esteem in the people of God, of the people of God, when under trouble and distress: for this take two heads of reasons.
First, In regard of those people of God that do behold their sufferings.
Secondly, In regard of those people of God that are in sufferings.
First, In regard of those people of God that do behold their sufferings, troubles, and distresses, in three Regards.
First, Those of the people of God that look upon others in trouble, though they are such as may differ from them in regard of outward estate. One may be in honour, the other in dishonour, yet they have an interest in the same head, and do belong to the same body that they do, they are not wooden legs, nor glass eyes; therefore Christ is called the common Saviour, and the Saviour of the body, the whole church. Faith is called, the w like precious faith,” 2 Pet. chapter 1 in the beginning. The faith of one believer does as truly lay hold of Christ, as the faith of another. This salvation is called common salvation; my meaning is, this outward disproportion as the birth and education, puts no difference at all in a spiritual respect between believer and believer: a king and a beggar are all one in Christ? a Jew, or a Greek, a great scholar, or a poor ignorant man, as to the spiritual state, all are made happy the same way.
Secondly, Because these look at spiritual excellency and are able to discern spiritual excellency. They have a renewed judgment, as they look upon their old course and sins with a new eye, so they look upon their company with a new eye. Those that before they highly esteemed they now dis-esteem. Those persons that before they esteemed a damp to their mirth, they now look upon them as the excellent ones of the earth, Prov. xii. 26. “The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour.” In the 16th Psalm, says David, “My goodness extends not to thee, but to the saints, the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight” Here was a renewed estimation; David saw excellency in those which worldlings despised. A carnal eye sees no glory but in carnal objects. Worldlings bless the covetous, whom the Lord abhors. A gracious heart sees a spiritual worth in a man divested of worldly enjoyments, as a curious eye may, and does see a great deal of art and curiosity in a picture, though in a broken frame. A beast can see the shining of a diamond, but knows not the worth of it. A beast would rather lick up a lock of bay than a diamond, though of never so great value. A wicked man wants a spirit of discerning. The people of God are the workmanship of God, which a godly roan is very much taken withal, not with the greatness, but with the goodness that is in them. The four monarchs of the earth is expressed by four beasts, which shews their cruelty, not their curiosity, in observing that of God which may be observed. A child is taken with the gay, but a learned man is taken, with, the learning and art of a lesson.
Thirdly, A child of God is one that highly esteems, the people of God, judging of them as God judges. The child esteems as the father esteems. If the father cannot love any one, the ingenuous child cannot endure that he should come into the house. The courtier follows the favorite of the king; whom the king honors, they cringe to. But, to be sure it is true as to spirituals. God judges not by the gold ring or silken suit. A sinner is a vile person in God’s account, and so he is in a godly man’s account. God is more taken with a broken-hearted sigh than with all the gaudery in Solomon’s temple. He did not choose the eagle or lion for sacrifice, but the lamb and the dove: not many noble, not many rich, but the poor, hath God chosen; he that hath the choice of God hath the life of God.
The second reason is from the people of God that arc beheld. And this will appear in five or six particulars.
First, The people of God, those that are truly such, let their present condition be what it will, their end shall be happy. Men are not regarded in reference to what they have in possession, but what they shall have in reversion; the poor here are rich in faith, and shaft be rich in glory. 1 Pet. iii. The people of God are heirs of glory, co-heirs with Christ; when he shall appear, they shall appear with him in glory. They are not possessors here, but they are heirs, and are to be locked upon as what they shall be hereafter. Here thy art princes going to their crown, hereafter they shall be possessed of it. Here they may be oppressed, banished, disgraced, libeled, hereafter they shall shine as the sun in glory.
Secondly, They Are not only such as shall be happy, but they are very useful and beneficial in the world? they are those, for whose sake the world was made, they are the great common blessings of the world, like fire and’ water, they are those for whose sake God spares the world. If God would have spared the city for ten righteous persons’ sakes, surely for many tens God spares the world. Those that are pulled down by the world are those for whose sake God doth not pull down the world; they are the soul of the world, as I may so say. God hath gathered in all his elect, the world would not continue one hour longer.
Thirdly, The excellency of their performances is highly1 esteemed, there is a worth in every holy work that worldlings ate not able to discern; every heavenly prayer and sincerely bestowed aims hath a worth that a carnal man doth not see. Luther says, “I had rather do the least truly good work, than obtain all the conquests of Caesar and Alexander.” If their good works shall be so rewarded, do you think a holy man can see them and not be taken with them? Many a pricked man when he hears a holy man make an excellent oration, wishes that he could do so too: it is not from the goodness he observes in it, or the principle from whence it comes, but from something of natural accomplishments that he is taken with it; so a godly man when he hears another pray excellently, and live holily, he wishes from his heart that he could do so too, his aim is to grow in holiness.
Fourthly, The present privileges of the people of God not only what they shall have hereafter, but what they have here, they are freed from a world of evils that worldlings lie under. Whatever befalls them turns to their benefit; they may be afflicted, but not hurt by affliction; the greatest hurt the world does to them, tends to their greatest good. Worldlings may take away their heads, they cannot their crowns. There is a real communication of a blessed interest in all that is good, for they have an interest in all that God hath, or is. The power of God is theirs to protect them, the love of God is set upon them, the righteousness of God imputed to them, so as to acquit them from sin; so that a child of God may not only appeal to the bowels of God’s mercy, but to the bar of his justice, all the providences of God shall tend to their good. In Psal. xxv. 10 the Holy Ghost says, “All the ways of God are mercy and truth,” to them that are in covenant with him they are mercy, because they are appointed to do them good; and truth, because they shall certainly do them good: Christ, and God, and all is laid out for the good of a godly man- in this world they may go to God, and tell him wherein they are troubled, pained, or afflicted, end they are never more welcome than when they ask most from him. If thou ask great things from God, God is well taken with such requests; but if thou ask riches and honours, these are the low things of the foot-stool. God is exceedingly taken with thee when thou askest peace and pardon, peace of conscience, pardon of sin, strength against sin, power to overcome thy lusts, to withstand temptations. Tire people of God may have from God all (bat they want, and all that they can regularly wish.
Fifthly, These are such as have an incomparable dear and near relation to God; they are his delight, they are set apart by God as his own, his peculiar people. Though God have a propriety in all, yet be hath a peculiar propriety in and a relation to these; therefore they are called his children, his house, his jewels, his garden. God’s whole treasure and portion is his people; as God is bid people’s portion, so his people are his portion; they are those he hath been at a great deal of cost to purchase.
Sixthly, They are such as have the “image of God” imprinted upon them. Take notice of this word image, for the image of God appears in holiness. Now an image does not represent anything of imperfection or deformity, but of excellency. If a man takes the picture of a man, he will not take it of his leg, or hand, or the like, but of his face, his most beautiful part is chiefly aimed at in the picture. Wicked men discover God’s “bounty in having wit and wealth; this is not the image of God; the image of God is that which is most excellent in a man, which is holiness: the power of God, is the hand of God; the wisdom of God, is the eye of God; the holiness of God, is the face, the beauty of God. The people of God resemble God in purity. Be ye holy, as your heavenly Father is holy,” there is the pattern, they have the divine nature: 2 Pet. i. 4. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world as it is in Ephes. iv. 18. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” Rom. iii. 23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” There is more of God n grace, than in all the works that ever God did in the world beside: there is much of God seen in making the Sun, Moon, and Stars: but in giving a man a new nature, a renewed understanding, in changing of a man from being a vessel of wrath and vessel of Satan, in making of him become a new man, a vessel of glory, God shews more of himself, than in making ten thousand worlds.
Use. Here I shall raise these following inferences. 1. If it be so, that there is such an excellency in the people of God here, then first, what excellency shall there be seen on the people of God in heaven? If they are so beautiful in their rags, what will they be when they appear in their robes? The glory of Christ shall be admired in them that believe. Oh what a head is he that hath such members? what a Lord is he that hath such attendance? These people of God are in a state of non-appearance now, here after it shall appear what they are; the very wicked themselves shall admire them:
2. Inference. What have we to think of those that have no regard either for religion, or for religious ones, any farther forth than it is decked and adorned with advantageous beauty, and outward glory? If religion be not looked upon with a favourable eye from authority farewell religion, and religiousness. These love the child for the nurse’s sake. What is the thing in fashion these are for; what authority commands, they will creep and cringe to; when the deer is shot, the herd flies from her; when religion is shot at, then farewell religion. What is this but to have the faith of God in respect of persons? If I love religion for the countenance of authority, then it is certain I love religion for the authorities sake: this is a sign thou shalt not have communion with those hereafter, that thou contemnest here. If the people of God are too bad for thee when they are in trouble and affliction, they will be too good for thee in glory.
3. Inference. Note here the excellency of holiness above worldly glory. Here a man is dignified by what is conferred upon him; when outward honour ceaseth, the man is contemned; but holiness it dignifies a man, and shall remain here and hereafter. Set a giant in a valley, he is a giant still; a pearl is a pearl though on a dunghill; a holy man is a holy man, though never so much disgraced and contemned by men. John Baptist had a leathern girdle, and had locusts for his food, yet there was not a greater than John Baptist born of women. He was the fore-runner of Christ, the friend of the Bridegroom. On the other side, Herod, that was like the voice of God, and not of man, what was he in God’s account? The angel smote him, and he became worm’s meat. There is a silent dignity in reproached piety, and a silent ignominy in advanced iniquity. As it was with Christ, so it is with the servants of Christ. When he was on earth, no man had more ignominy poured upon him; yet there was a secret glory attended him in all that befell him. Though born in a manger, yet worshipped there: sometimes he was driven to be hungry, the fish brought him money: sometimes a weary, at that very time converts a woman; sometimes laid hold on by his enemies, at that very time his enemies fell down before him. Look through the- whole course of his life, there was a secret glory under all ignominy. Just thus it is with the servants of Christ, they are in trouble and disgrace, but there is a secret glory and dignity shines in them, the Spirit of God and of glory rests upon them: “If ye suffer for righteousness sake, blessed are ye.” To be in high place, and yet to be a drunkard, a swearer, or profane, this spoils all thy glory, be thou never so high.
4. Inference. This is the way for a man to have a good name. Wouldst thou gain a good report living and dying? Take heed of sin, take heed of dishonouring God; then God will have thee in everlasting remembrance.
5. Inference. Note here the certain happiness of those beholders, that do see certain excellency in holiness, though disgraced and undervalued. If there be any thing in the world that is a sign of sincerity, it is this, to love holiness when disgraced, abused, and spit upon; to cross the stream, and thwart the multitude, is a sign, of the truth of grace, and strength of grace: this is a sign of true sight, and strong sight. To see beauty in a godly man in sufferings, the Lord will certainly have an eye upon thee in times of trouble. Here is comfort in thine infirmities. Dost thou love holiness when compassed about with sufferings and persecution? God will take notice of thy grace, though compassed about with abundance of infirmities; the Lord will take notice of a little of his, in a great deal of ours. Here is comfort in sufferings; if you regard his in their sufferings, the Lord will remember you in your sufferings; the Lord will remember what thou didst for such and such a servant of his own in trouble or distress. God doth not cast away any in their lowness, that have kept close to him in their highness; and this will be comfort in inward trouble, when thou canst find nothing from which to fetch comfort. And this will be comfort in the last day; though we can say nothing in that day, by way of merit, yet will it be comfort to be able sincerely to say that thou hast owned God and his people in the midst of sufferings. Do ye think that judge would not save that malefactor that had saved the life of his wife? If thou hast owned Christ when he was in his rags, do not fear but he will own thee when he conies in his robes.
6. Inference, and last. The people of God should learn not to be discouraged under any misery or affliction that can befall them in this world. At this very time God hath a high esteem of you; at this time you are his delight, his garden, his spouse. The saints of God are the wise men of the world, they have chosen that which cannot be taken from them. I profess, Sirs, the love of one saint makes amends for all the hatred you undergo for sinners. The very wicked themselves have a good opinion of you, when you do not basely comply: their consciences cannot but have an high esteem of you, when peradventure their tongues might speak against you. If all this will not do, remember, your own consciences are more than a thousand witnesses for you, will then comfort you. No man. is a miserable man for any thing in the world that is done to him, or said of him. No, it is a good conscience that will give the best acquittance. For thee to have the whole number of God’s people to look upon thee as an unworthy wretch, and as a vile person, I look upon it as a greater ignominy and disgrace, than to have all the disgraces of wicked men cast upon thee. That man that hath a godly man to be afraid of him, had need to be very much afraid of himself. I shall conclude all with this one word, There is great reason to look narrowly to your hearts and ways, when they stand at a distance from you, and are afraid to come near you.