Glad Tidings

Walter Cradock

Originally Printed In 1648

Posted On May 24, 2019

Glad Tidings from Heaven to the Worst of Sinners on Earth. A Sermon preached by that faithful Dispenser of the Mysteries of Christ, Walter Cradock, late Preacher at All-hallows the Great in London. In London, Cradock was the minister of All-Hallows-the-Great, where he lectured and preached, along with Henry Jessey, and this pulpit at All-Hallows was where the majority of his printed sermons were preached. All-Hallows-the-Great was one of the few assemblies in that City where the everlasting Gospel in all its fulness & freeness was being proclaimed, for whist the so-called Puritans were filling most London pulpits with their toxic Law/Gospel admixtures, a simple & single message of ‘Christ Crucified’ would become the cornerstone of the preaching at All-Hallows, a sanctuary where saints were embraced as saints, and not bound by denominational shackles, creedal intolerance, or ecclesiastical priesthood. Cradock excelled in clear views of the doctrine of justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ, and in the great simplicity of his manner of preaching.

Biographical Sketch: Walter Cradock, 1610-1659, Independent Minister of the Gospel, was born in Llangwm, a small rural village and community in Monmouthshire, South East Wales. From most accounts he was educated at the University of Oxford, most likely with a design to the ministry of the Gospel. Being descended from a prominent family, it is said that he inherited an estate worth £601 a year. Upon his return to Wales, having heard of the excellence of William Wroth, a zealous puritan minister in Wales, {generally accredited in company with Walter Cradock of establishing the first Independent Church in Wales in 1639,} and of his ability to declare the message of the Gospel, Cradock being fully convinced of the truth and the authority by which it was published, he joined himself to that ministry, and soon thereafter began to preach the same Gospel, the Lord attending the word with power. Around 1635, he became curate {assistant minister} to the radical Welshman William Erbery, another passionate puritan, {and in later years, reputed mystic,} who was at that time vicar of St. Mary’s Church, Cardiff, in Glamorganshire.

In 1638, William Erbery, was forced {having his license revoked} to resign his senior position, along with Walter Cradock, and with other senior members of the congregation, being barred from the premises for ‘unorthodox’ preaching, and for refusing to read the Declaration of Sports, a statement of James I of England and reissued by Charles I in 1633, listing the sports and recreations that were permitted on Sundays and other so-called holy days. Interestingly enough, Erbery’s other curate, by this time the same William Wroth, {who initially expounded the Gospel more clearly unto Cradock,} would eventually conform and continued at St. Mary’s, preaching and gathering others of a similar mind, which began to form the core of the congregation there. Meanwhile, Cradock, who had become curate at Wrexham, {a large town in the north of Wales,} was also now drawing great crowds. The infuriated townsfolk of Wrexham, however, forced Cradock to leave and he moved unto Herefordshire. One historian recorded that by Mr. Cradock’s faithful ministry at Wrexham many sinners were called “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.”

Upon the outbreak of the English Civil War, Cradock moved to Bristol, where there was an Independent Church. When Royalist forces occupied Bristol, in 1643, he fled to London where he made contact with the Particular Baptist, and Fifth Monarchist, Henry Jessey. In London, Cradock became the head minister of All-Hallows-the-Great, where he lectured and preached, along with Henry Jessey, and this pulpit at All-Hallows was where the majority of his printed sermons were preached. He occupied this pulpit for a few years, until things became more settled in the Nation, upon which he returned to Wales, with several others, to resume his labours, having a distinct compassion for his fellow countrymen there, preaching the everlasting Gospel throughout the land as the Lord gave him opportunity, sometimes in the churches and sometimes out of them.

Cradock was a firm supporter of Oliver Cromwell, and when controversy arose over Cromwell’s Protectorate, he condemned Vavasor Powel’s anti-Cromwell pamphlet entitled The Word of God. In fact, Cradock came forth as the principal supporter of Cromwell in Wales, and a loyal petition, The Humble Representation and Address, was prepared by him, which was signed by 700 people, mostly from South Wales.

In Brooks, Lives of the Puritans, he concludes his narrative of Cradock’s life with the following statement. “He was a man of an excellent character and of high reputation; therefore, in the year 1653, he was appointed by the Parliament to be one of the committee for the approbation of public preachers, commonly called tryers. Here his name is classed with those of Dr. Owen, Dr. Goodwin, Dr. Manton, and many other celebrated divines. This probably called him out of Wales, and brought him back to London. Mr. Cradock was an independent in his views of church government; but he could agree in the important doctrines of the gospel, with those who differed from him in matters of discipline. He had a low opinion of himself, and a very high esteem for his Lord and Master. He excelled in clear views of the doctrine of justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ, and in the great simplicity of his manner of preaching. His “Works” consisting of Sermons, Expositions, and Observations, were collected and published in one volume octavo in the year 1800. By his zealous endeavours he procured the New Testament to be printed in Welsh, for the use of the common people.”

Cradock died on the 24th of December in 1659. In his lifetime he published the following works: The Saints Fulness of Joy, 1646 – Gospel Liberty, 1648 - Mount Sion or the Privilege and Practice of the Saints, 1649 - Divine Drops, 1650 & Gospel Holiness, 1655.

Excerpts: Again, it may be, that some men will say that the Gospel for the most part brings good news, but there is one thing in the Gospel that me thinks is no good news to poor sinners, saith a poor soul, for the Ministers often preach and tell me, that the Law saith, do this and live; and the Minister tells me, that the Gospel saith, believe and live; he saith that there shall be all happiness, and good to me, if I believe; and saith the poor soul, for my part it is as possible for me to keep the Ten Commandments, as to believe, and the Ministers say, that there is no good thing in the Gospel that I can partake of except I believe; I would like it well but for that one thing, I would, but I cannot believe. To answer this, if the Gospel held forth Christ and Salvation, upon believing {as many oft preach} it were little better tidings than the Law, for it is as easy for a man of himself to keep the Ten Commandments, by obeying; as to believe of himself, to have faith to receive Christ. Therefore, that is a misunderstanding of the Gospel, the Gospel saith not bring faith with thee, and then here is all grace and salvation upon the condition that you believe; No, for whence should I have faith? Whatsoever is of the flesh, is flesh; and what is of me is flesh, and abominable to God; therefore the Gospel expects not that any sinner should bring faith, for he hath it not; nay, it is a sin to endeavour to have it of himself; but the Gospel as it brings salvation, so it breeds faith in the heart of a sinner. “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” I Thes.2:13. The same word that makes known salvation, the same word breeds, and begets faith in the heart to receive it. That God that gives his alms to us, gives a purse to carry it; that God that gives physic to a poor soul, will give a hand to receive it. It were strange if God should expect faith from a poor sinner, whereas, for ought I know, and learned men hold, that Adam in innocency had not the faith that we are justified by; and for ought I know the angels in heaven have it not; and whence should a poor sinner have it? It is God that gives repentance to Israel, and God is the author and finisher of our faith. Heb.12:2. And in Phil.1:29, it is given to you to believe. Therefore, when I hear of grace, and glory, and salvation by Jesus Christ, I must not consider where I shall have a vessel to carry it home, where I shall have faith to receive it, but it carries the vessel with it, and I go, and take the promise, and by the Holy Spirit that same Gospel that brought the grace will effectually work faith, or else, it were as harsh as the Law. Therefore never stand off about faith, for he that gives grace and salvation, will work faith. “It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” John 6:45.

There is a kind of devotion and profession, but it is not built according to the Gospel, but if you would walk according to the Gospel learn this lesson first, that is, that God gives life, and salvation through Christ to sinners, as sinners though they be hard hearted, backsliding, and the chief of sinners, yet as long as they be sinners, and but sinners they may alway look upon Jesus Christ and Salvation in his hand to be bestowed on them. This is a truth that thou must learn, and be taught it of God, or else thou canst not go one step into the Profession of the Gospel; for, beloved, until you know and learn this, you will be like men in the dark, you will be groping for Christ Jesus, but you will never be grafted into him, you will never be knit to Christ. I say this is the first step to Religion to understand this truth aright, that the Gospel brings glad tidings of salvation to be given to the worst of sinners; therefore though I see no good in me at all whereby I might receive good news from the Law, and though I do not see that I am a humbled sinner as such a Preacher teacheth, or a believing sinner, or a broken hearted sinner, as another Preacher saith, yet I say I am a sinner, and a sinner is the proper object of the Gospel. You will be off, and on, and never be knit to Christ, but will be as a bone in and out till you come to that; for if you go and lay hold on Christ any other way, in any other consideration, that you are humbled sinners, or broken hearted sinners, or mortified sinners, as soon as ever temptation tells you that you are not humbled enough, you will be gone again, the bone will be out of joint again, and so you will be as a reed tossed of the wind, you will never be fastened to Christ. Whosoever holds Christ upon any qualifications on his side, must let him go one time, or other. As for instance, if he thinks the Gospel be directed to broken heartedness, and he can weep at a sermon, tomorrow his heart may be hard, and then he thinks, he is a devil that was but now a Saint. Therefore many Christians after many years Profession of Religion never felt their souls knit, till God rightly, and truly taught them this lesson, but then they were knit to Christ, and their souls were never in and out, they were never lost again, because they were able in all temptations to retreat to this truth as a refuge.

Now in the New Testament we should labour for a full spirit of adoption. What is that? That is, that there may be nothing in my heart towards God, but pure love, because in his dealings to me there is not a syllable but love, and grace, and glad tidings to me, and my heart and life should be answerable. For the reason of all the horror that you find in your hearts, and all your fears and troubles that arise there, they are from this error in your minds, this opinion that is not quite rooted out, that there is in the Gospel administration some ill, and bad tidings, there is some love, and some hatred; some mercy, and some wrath; you think that it may be God is your Father, and it may be he is your enemy, and that because you have sinned he will damn you to hell. This is natural, and ordinary. Now if you were convinced that there is no wrath in the Gospel since our Lord Jesus is gone to heaven, and is at the right hand of his Father, there is nothing in his dispensation but love, and mercy, and no wrath, hell, and damnation, and sin, &c., are all thrown away, and if I be perfectly righteous, and perfectly justified from all my sins; if I have the spirit of Christ given me, and am one with God forever, by an Everlasting Covenant perfectly ordered in all things and sure, II Sam.23:5, and shall have life and a crown of glory forever, and my sins shall not be laid to my charge; O, what a clear and sweet spirit should I have in God’s service! And not a muddy, and dogged, and froward spirit that ariseth from guilt soaking into the soul. When I view this truth over, and pull it by piecemeal, and see that there is no gall, nothing in the Gospel, first, or last, but what is amiable, and beautiful, and blessed news to sinners; then there should follow this consideration. Why should there be anything in my heart, and spirit towards God, but amiable thoughts, and love, &c? Why should there be any of those cores of unbelief, and distrust, and fear, and horror? Those mixtures of adoption and bondage? Why should there be hellish fears or guilt in me, since there is no wrath, nor anger at all in God? Why should not the carriage of my heart be clear towards him, as his is in his Son, by the administration of the Gospel towards me?

I do think for my part constantly, that the main cause of all the divisions, and stirs, and contentions among us is because there’s so much of the Old Testament in our ministry especially, and our profession must be accordingly; for our strength will be according to our meat. And truly a man may be a godly man, and yet may be a minister of the Old Testament; and if you take a man, let him be a godly man, if his grace be bred in him by the ministry of the Old Testament, and nourished in him by that, and take another saint that hath grace planted, and bred by the ministry of the Gospel, and nourished by that, the former man though he be godly, must of necessity persecute the latter. I pity them when ministers rail against this man, and against that, and they know not why, yet they may be godly men. Ishmael might be a godly man for ought I know; he was a type, not of wicked men, but of men under the Old Covenant. If ever you will have peace and comfort in the Land, beg of God to remove an Old Testament spirit from our preachers, from our prayers, and our principals, and to set up the New Testament, Jesus Christ in the Gospel, and then certainly the promise shall be fulfilled, we shall be all of one heart and one way, and one mind, but it will never be otherwise as long as some reach to the ministry of the New Testament and others go in the Old, as Ishmael and Isaac could not be reconciled, no more will these.