O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.
~ Isaiah 54:11, Isaiah 49:14, John 6:18
How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed.
~ Lamentations 1:1-2, Lamentations 1:16
And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.
~ Acts 27:18-20
And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
~ Matthew 8:24-26
Matthew 14:22-24. A Sermon Preached at Stirling, by Mr. James Guthrie. 1660.
To the Reader.
Perhaps it may be thought somewhat strange, how a Sermon of that great and good Man Mr. James Guthrie once Minister of Stirling, should come abroad about seventy-seven Years after his Death, he having been crowned with Martyrdom in the Year 1661. The Occasion of its seeing the Light is as follows. January this same Year, I had Occasion to be in Company with my worthy and dear Father and Colleague Mr. Alexander Hamilton in the Manse of Stirling, a few Days before his departure to Glory. And having heard that the Sermon was in his Hand, I took Occasion to enquire at him about it. He told me, That it was not at present in his Custody, having lent it out to a Christian Friend about eighteen Miles distance, but allowed me to send for it, adding, That he would be well pleased it were published. I asked him further, of the Way he came by it? To which he replied, That for what he knew, it had lien in the Closet of the Room where he and I were sitting, since Mr. Guthrie’s Incumbency, until one Day he fell upon it, as he was turning over some old Papers, which had lien there he knew not how long.
Some days after Mr. Hamilton’s Death, I wrote for it, according to his Direction, and had it sent to me accordingly. And that same authentick Copy writ, as I was told, by Mr. Guthrie’s own Hand, goes to the Press. The only Reason of its lying so long in Obscurity beside me, is the Throng of other Work which necessarily devolved upon me in this Place, after the loss of my Brother Colleague, still intending when Time allowed, to say something by way of Preface: But the same Strait continuing upon me, I’m obliged after all, through the importunate Cries of many who have heard of it, to let it go with saying little or nothing. Only I regard it as a Piece of Honour put upon me in holy Providence, not only to be the unworthy Successor of that great Man, but the Publisher of the last Sermon that ever he preached in the Pulpit of Stirling: Where it is my Desire, the same Testimony of Jesus, for which he suffered unto Death, may be maintained unto the latest Posterity.
What may be in the Womb of this Providence of the Resurrection of Mr. Guthrie’s last Sermon in Stirling, after it has been so long buried with himself in the Dust and Rubbish, God only knows, and Time must discover: Only considering the Way of its Resurrection and Conveyance, it looks like a Cry from the Dead to the whole Land; but in a particular Manner, to the Congregation of Stirling, upon whose Watch-tower it was delivered.
I have thought the Manner of the Conveyance of this Sermon to publick View at this Time of Day, one of the curious Links of the great Chain of Divine Providence. The Reverend Mr. Alexander Hamilton, when he was but a Youth at the College of Edinburgh, from a just Regard he had to the Memory of Mr. Guthrie, and the Cause in which he suffered, was excited at the Peril of his Life to take down with his own Hand Mr. Guthrie’s Head from the Netherbow-Port of Edinburgh, where it had stood as a publick Spectacle for about Twenty-seven or Twenty-eight Years. The very same Person is ordered Thirty-eight Years thereafter to succeed him in the Ministry, and uphold his Testimony in the Pulpit of Stirling for the Space of Twelve Years. And altho’ a good many Ministers both of the Presbyterian and Episcopal Persuasion had possessed the Manse of Stirling since the Death of Mr. Guthrie; yet none of them are directed to discover his Farewell Sermon in Stirling, until the same Hand is employed, which was honoured to take down his Head, and to give it a decent and honourable Burial.
I make no doubt, but the above Remark will appear whimsical and contemptible, as well as the Sermon itself, in the Eyes of a Generation of Men in our Day, who are wise in their own Eyes: But whatever may be the Sentiments of Men, whose Minds the God of this World hath blinded; yet the Work of the Lord is honourable and glorious, and will be sought out of all them that have Pleasure therein. Whoso is wise, and observeth these things, even they shall understand the loving-Kindness of the Lord. But how awful is the Certification to those, who shut their Eyes and Ears against the Appearances of God in his providential Dispensations? Psalm 28.5, Because they regard not the Works of the Lord, nor the Operations of his Hand, he shall destroy them, and not build them up.
As some have been longing and crying for the Publication of this Sermon; so I’m apt to believe, some others will wish, that it and the other Papers of the worthy Author which come along with it, had been buried in Silence for ever. Neither needs this appear strange. His Testimony when alive, tormented the Men who then dwelt upon Earth to that Degree, as to stone this grand Seer in Israel, and afterward to imbrue their Hands in his Blood: And therefore, it cannot be very easy or pleasant to those who are treading in the same Steps, by attempting the Burial of that Cause and Work of Reformation for which he suffered Martyrdom, to hear his Voice crying from under the Altar, or his dying Testimony again staring them openly in the Face.
I make no doubt to say, It was the Testimony of Jesus for which this faithful Martyr Mr. James Guthrie suffered. What that Testimony was, will partly cast up from the following Papers, all of them compiled by him, when drawing nigh to Eternity. The Sermon was preached, August 19th, 1660, and he imprisoned the Thursday thereafter. His Paper, entitled, Considerations anent the Danger of Religion, and the Work of Reformation, &c. was published by himself that very same Year. The third Paper is his Speech upon the Scaffold the Year following. By these and his other Papers and Contendings, contained in Mr. Woodrow’s History, he being dead, yet speaketh unto the living. And it will be easy for the judicious and serious Reader, to discern who are in our Day bearing up, and who are bearing down, and burying the Cause for which he contended unto Blood.
There is a loud Cry raised against a few Ministers, who are associated together for Reformation, as if they were Schismaticks and Separatists, tho’ they were at first shut out and separate from their Brethren, because they could not abandon the Word of their Testimony, emitted for the Covenanted Reformation of Scotland, sealed with the Blood of this and many other Worthies. But, in my humble Opinion, these only are to be deemed Separatists, be they few or many, who separate from the Truth, and who do not hold the Head Christ Jesus, and the Order he hath established in his House. It has been made evident in a printed Act and Testimony, wherein the present Judicatories, and the whole Land, have departed from that Truth and Order. The only Thing demanded by these Brethren in order to a harmonious Coalition, is the Reformation of these Corruptions, and a purging out of these Scandals by which the whole Lump is in hazard of being leavened. Instead of a Compliance with so just and reasonable a Demand; further and higher Steps of Defection are every Year gone into, and Measures laid by the last Assembly for burying them and their Testimony both. Whether this be a holding fast Deceit, and a refusing to return to the Lord, is easy to judge. And in this Case the Command is plain, Jer. 15.19, Let them return unto thee, but return not thou unto them.
When the Reformation of Corruptions, and the purging out of evident Scandals is the only Condition demanded, what can be the Reason that it is not granted? One of the two it must needs be, viz. either because the Judicatories will not; or else because they cannot reform. If it be because they will not, they are to be withdrawn from as Wicked. If it be because they cannot, or want Power, it says, The Keys of Discipline is taken from them, and that they are not Christ’s Officers and Stewards. The Discipline of Christ’s Appointment must needs be a sufficient Means for the Preservation and Reformation of his own House. In both these Cases, the judicious Owen is of Opinion, a Church is to be separate from. The Reason is plain, because She is separate from the Head, whom we are to hold at any Rate, tho’ it were to the loss of Communion with the whole World.
I am apt to think, that the two Horns of the above Dilemma, are sufficient to overthrow Mr. Currie’s voluminous Essay upon Separation. By which, in the Opinion of many, he has destroyed these Things which formerly he built up. But the Fallacy and Weakness of his Reasonings, and the Injuries he has done, both to Acts of Assemblies, and particular Authors, I hope, in a short Time, may be sufficiently exposed. Had I been favoured with a Sight of the Manuscript before Publication, and a few Hours Converse with my Dear and Worthy Brother, according to wonted Intimacy and Freedom, without boasting, I persuade myself, it had never seen the Light. I value the Man, I’m sorry for his Conduct; and pray for his Recovery. But want of Time, as was hinted above, and fear of swelling the Pamphlet, obliges me to forbear several other Things I inclined to say.
That the same Spirit of God, and of Glory, which enabled the worthy Author of the following Papers to contend unto Death, for the Royal Prerogatives of his great Master, the only Head, King, and Law-giver of his Church, may in the perusal of his following Testimonies, enter into the Soul of every Reader, is the Prayer and Desire of him who is
Thine in the Work of the Gospel of Christ Jesus,
Stirling, August 14. 1738.
Matthew 14:22-24. A Sermon Preached at Stirling, by Mr. James Guthrie.
On the Sabbath-Day in the Forenoon, being the 19 of August, 1660. Upon the 22. Verse of the 14. Chapter of Matthew. He did also read the 23. and 24. Verses of the same Chapter; but had not Occasion to preach any more: he being imprisoned the Thursday thereafter.
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
~ Matthew 14:22-24
It is of Purpose, and by Choice, in reference to the Condition and Trial of these Times, we have resolved, through the Lord’s Assistance, to speak somewhat of this Piece of Trial, and of the Storm wherewith the Disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ were exercised at Sea, and the rather we have chosen to speak somewhat of these Words, because they were the choice of a very precious and worthy Man, to speak of in a Day of Trial, I mean, of that eminent Servant of God, John Knox, whom the Lord did help to be a most eminent Instrument of the Work of Reformation in the Church; we shall not much stand on any particular unfolding of the Branches of the Text, but take these as they lie in order. The Thing we desire you first to look to, is, How the Story that is recorded in these Verses, is knit with these that go before, for we will find them knit together by many of the Evangelists, viz. the Story of the glorious Miracles wrought by Jesus Christ the Lord, in feeding so many Thousands of People with a few Loaves, and a few little Fishes, after this that sad Trial which the Disciples met with at Sea: They are knit together by the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and John, after that the Lord Jesus Christ had preached to the People and his Disciples, and had fed many Thousands with a few Loaves, and a few Fishes, and had manifested much of his Power and Glory, (He constrains his Disciples to get into a Ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the Multitude away) he sends his Disciples to the Sea, and the Multitude away, that they should not for a Season hear any more of his Doctrine, and see any more of his Miracles.
That we may lay a Foundation for somewhat for your Edification. First, It may be enquired, Why it is that he sends away both his Disciples and the Multitude at that Time, and would have an Interruption of his Doctrine and Miracles, when he sends his Disciples to the Sea, and the Multitude to their own Home? If we look [at] the other Evangelists, we will find the Causes there enough, Mark 6.52, the Cause is given there, why he thus exercised his Disciples, (For they considered not the Miracle of the Loaves, for their Hearts were hardened.) Albeit, the Lord Jesus Christ had revealed much of his Power and Glory in the Miracle of the Loaves; yet his Disciples did not duly consider thereof: Therefore he would needs Exercise them with a Storm, and a Tempest at Sea, that they might both be Taught in the Knowledge of their own Weakness, and also might be better Schooled in the Faith of his Power and Glory. The Reason why he sent the Multitude away, is set down in the Gospel written by John, chapter 6, verse 26, When the Multitude comes again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the Miracles, but because ye did eat of the Loaves, and were filled. Compare it with that in the 15th verse, When Jesus Christ therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a King, he departed again into a Mountain himself alone. He knew that for all that they had seen and heard of his Word and Miracles, they were of a very carnal Disposition, and seeking to establish to themselves carnal Prosperity and Peace: Therefore he sent them away for a Time.
From the Connection of these two Histories, and from the Scope of the whole, we offer you one Point of Doctrine; That the Lord Jesus Christ is oft Times, and ordinarily pleased after special Manifestations of his Power and Glory in his Church, and amongst his People, to exercise them with special pieces of Trial, and Troubles, and Storms. After his doing of great Work for their Comfort, he is ordinarily pleased, to raise great and dreadful Storms and Tempests, for their Exercise and Trial. So here, when he hath in a most comfortable, and kindly way, banqueted them, and revealed much of his Power and Love in so doing, he sends them a Storm and Tempest, on the back of it, and will have an Interruption of his Doctrine and Miracles for a Time, wherein they are all like to be drowned.
1st Instance. There are many Instances in the Word, of the Lord’s dealing thus; look in the Books of Moses, what follows on the back of that glorious Deliverance, that the Lord gave to the People of Israel out of Egypt; they are exercised 40 Years in the Wilderness, in which they had many a sad Day, ere they entered the Land of Canaan.
2nd Instance. The like we may see in the Church of Israel, 1 Sam. The Lord gave a great Deliverance from the Philistines by the Ministry of his Servant Samuel, and a glorious blessed work of Reformation there was, but all that was again destroyed by the Hand of Saul, and Persecution raised against the Church of God.
3rd Instance. A third Instance ye will find, if ye will read the History of the Reign of Hezekiah and Manasseh Kings of Judah, as it is recorded in the second Book of Chronicles, there was a great Reformation in the Days of Hezekiah, A Covenant sworn by the King, Princes, Priests, and the whole Body of the Land; All Corruption cast out, the pure Worship and Ordinances of God set up, but there was a dreadful Trial by the Hand of Sennacherib; so scarcely was Hezekiah well in his Grave, till Manasseh succeeds in his Room, and brings in Corruption and Persecution, both at once.
4th Instance. A fourth Instance was in the Days of Josiah, how much of the Power, and Glory of the Lord is manifested; but how sad a Trial comes on the Back of it, that the Church seems to be wholly defaced by the King of Babylon.
5th Instance. A fifth Instance we will find, after the Return of Israel out of Babylon; in the 4th of Ezra, the Foundation of the Lord’s House is laid: But in a little while the Work is interrupted, (till the second Year of Darius the King) by the Derision and Enmity of wicked Men.
6th Instance. A like Instance you shall also find in the New Testament; look what a Length our blessed LORD brought the Work of the Gospel, but what follows in the 16th chapter of John, verses 31 and 32, Do ye now believe? Behold the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone. And he is crucified, and laid in his Grave, and a Stone laid on the Grave’s Mouth, and little Appearance that ever there should have been more mention of him, in the Land of the Living.
7th Instance. Then look another Instance in the Days of the Apostles in the 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, Chapters of the Acts, what a blessed Reformation there was, but in the Close of the 6th Chapter, and in the Beginning of the 8th, ye see what a sad Interruption and Scattering is in the Church, and a great Persecution raised against it.
8th Instance. And as there are many Instances in the Word, so there are many Instances in the Story of the Church, many great Things were done by the Apostles, and a glorious Reformation there was in the bringing in of the Gentiles; but how dreadful a Persecution is raised through all the World.
9th Instance. And there is a notable Instance when the Lord began to reform the Church from the Darkness of Popery, by that worthy Instrument Luther: But shortly after, did not Charles the fifth raise a cruel War, against all the Princes of Germany, and raised cruel Edicts against all that clave to the Church.
10th Instance. And also, in the Days of King Edward the sixth, That good Prince, what a glorious Work was in England; but few Years after that godly Prince died, Queen Mary succeeds, brings in Popery, and raises a bitter Persecution against the Saints of God.
11th Instance. And, ye cannot be so great Strangers to your own Condition at Home; How sad an Interruption the Work of Reformation met with, from the Prelates not long ago.
So that there is nothing more ordinary in the Church, than after the Lord has communicate himself in a special way in his Power and Glory, than to exercise them with sad Storms and Tempests on the Back of it.
Concerning this Dispensation, we would first, enquire a little into the Grounds and Reasons of it, why the Lord sees it fit to do so? Next, into the Kinds of it, or in what several Ways it is, that he sees it fit so to do?
For the Reasons, Grounds, and Causes of it, we shall not speak of many, though many might be spoken of, but shortly touch some of the most common and obvious.
1st Reason. Frist, The Lord makes such a Changing of his Dealing, with his Church, for the chastising of their Sin, and correcting of their Iniquity. A People to whom he manifests himself in his Power and Glory, and Mercy and Truth, do not always behave themselves as they ought to do, but even while he is dealing kindly with them they do many ways provoke him to Wrath. Therefore God for correcting their Sin, and chastising their Iniquity, brings Troubles and Storms upon them. In the 99th Psalm, the Lord is brought to take Vengeance on the Inventions of his People in the Wilderness; that ye may understand this the better, look [at] the 78th Psalm, which is a clear Commentary to this, where his Rod wherewith he punished that People in the Wilderness, and delayed their Entrance into Canaan, and their Sin both are set down: Their Unsteadfastness in the Lord’ s Covenant. Ye may look [into] some of the Proofs of these Sins:
1st Sin. First, In the 10th and 11th verses of Psalm 78, They kept not the Covenant of God, and refused to walk in his Law: And forgat his Works, and Wonders that he had shewed them. They were unsteadfast in the Lord’s Covenant in the 19th and 20th Chapters of Exodus, They entered in a most solemn Covenant with God, that all of them undertook to stand to, and to prove faithful therein, But they kept not his Covenant, but dealt deceitfully in it, therefore he brought such Storms on them in the Wilderness, and so long suspended their Entrance in the promised Land.
2d Sin. A second Sin is, in the 18th verse they sinned yet more, and tempted him in their Hearts, by asking Meat for their Lusts. They are not satisfied, with the things that God has allowed them, but lusted after strange things, and became lustful in their Appetites: Therefore God is wroth, and thus exerciseth them in the Wilderness.
3d Sin. A third Sin is, in the 22nd verse, their Diffidence and Unbelief; they believed not God, and trusted not in his Salvation, they put tempting Questions, concerning his Power and Goodness in the 19th verse, Can God furnish a Table in the Wilderness? Therefore he thus exercised them with Storms.
4th Sin. A fourth Sin is, They despised and undervalued the precious Manna, which God sent down from Heaven, for feeding of them, Numb. 21.5, Our Souls loathed this light Bread.
5th Sin. A fifth Sin is, Their murmuring, grudging, and repining against God.
6th Sin. A Sixth sin is, Their Complaint of coming out of Egypt; their rebelling and speaking of a Captain to return back again.
7th Sin. The last Sin is, Their corrupting the Worship of God, and making a golden Calf. And because of these Sins, the Lord is angry, and correcteth and chastises them forty Years long in the Wilderness.
2d Reason. A second Reason is, The Lord’s bringing sad Storms on the back of glorious Manifestations of himself in his Word and Works, is, for purging of his People. As he will correct them, and have them to know the bitterness of their Sin, so he will have them to be purged of it. There is a sad Trial in the 11th of Daniel, and this is given as the Reason of it; To purge, to try, and to make white, in the 35th verse, And some of them of Understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the End: Because it is yet for a time appointed. There is in the Church and People of God, much Dross, therefore he sees it necessary, they be put to the Fire, for purging away of their Dross.
3d Reason. A third Reason, whereof the Lord brings sad Storms, on the Back of glorious Manifestations, of himself, is, for discovering and bringing forth the Hypocrites, and such as are unsound, Daniel 11.34. Many cleave to the Lord’s People by Flattery: Especially, it’s so, when the Lord is eminently appearing, and revealing himself gloriously in his Word and Works; Many then undertake Profession in whose Hearts there is no Sincerity and Truth; many then cleave to the Cause and Work of God by Flattery, which his Soul cannot endure; therefore he brings a winnowing Fan, and lets them up before the Wind, that he may know who is Chaff and who is Corn. Psalm 125.4,5, He doth good to those that are upright in Heart: but as for such as turn aside to crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of Iniquity. Therefore for Discovery of such, he sends sad Storms on the back of Reformation.
Another Reason of the Lord’s bringing sad Storms and Tempests on his People, on the back of glorious Manifestations of himself, is, that he may prove and take a Trial of the Integrity, Faith, and Patience of his Saints; and in trying of them to purchase Glory to himself, and a Name to them. 1 Pet. 1.7, That the Trial of your Faith (being much more precious than of Gold that perisheth, though it be tried with Fire,) might be found unto Praise, and Honour, and Glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
There is also a Reason, concerning Adversaries, which we shall not now meddle with.
But we come to the second Point, how it is, or in what several sorts of ways it is, that the Lord is pleased thus to dispense, I mean, to send Storms and Trials on his Servants and People, immediately on the back of some glorious Appearance, and notable Works of Kindness and Mercy amongst them. There might be a great many ways named, how the Lord is pleased to do thus, we shall name only four generals.
1st way, First, he does it sometime by interrupting of his Work. Thus he did it in that place cited before, Ezra 4. After the Foundation of the Lord’s House is laid, a Company of malignant Men, Enemies to the poor People of God, and his Work, who are exceeding ill satisfied, that the Work of God should prosper, they come by all Means to interrupt the Work of God, and when they could not prevail by Flattery, they go to the King of Persia, and load the People of God with false Aspersions, that they were about to rebel, &c. by which Suggestions, they obtain Letters from the King, commanding them to cease building of the Temple, and when the Copy of the King’s Letter was read, they made them to cease by Force and Power, &c.
2d Way, A second way is, by Corruption, when he suffers evil Instruments, not only to make an Interruption, but to make a Corruption so to speak, and to mingle these with the Purity of his Ordinances and Worship. God raises up ill Instruments, to make People lick up the Vomit of these Corruptions, which have been formerly cast out. There had been a blessed Reformation in the Days of Hezekiah, and all Corruption cast out, but all that Corruption, is brought in again in the Days of Manasseh, and more and worse than ever had been before.
3d Way, A third way is, by Destruction, so to speak; Not only, when the Work of God is interrupted, and corrupted, but when it is destroyed and taken away. There is in the Days of Zedekiah, a total destroying of the Temple, and all the Work.
The fourth way is, by Persecution to these that cleave to the Truth and Work of God; Thus it was in the Days of the Apostles, Acts 5. They fall on the Ministers of the Lord’s house, and slays some of them with the Sword, and puts others in Prison; so that they could not preach the Word in Jerusalem. Some one, or all of these ways, the Lord sets on Foot such Dispensations.
1st Use. We would now speak somewhat of the Use we would make of it. And, First, It says this to us, that we of this Church and Nation, would be looking for a Storm; the Lord hath been graciously pleased to make glorious Discoveries of his Power and Mercy in his Word and Works amongst us, now thir [these] many Years, and even on that Account, we would be looking for a Storm; and we shall give you these few Reasons wherefore we would look for it.
1st Reason. Because (as I told you) it’s ordinary with God in his Dispensations to his People, to knit these two together, with great Manifestations of his Mercy, to bring Troubles, Tempests, and Trials, as ye will find frequently in the Word.
2d Reason. A Second Reason wherefore we would look for a Storm, is, because we are guilty of these Sins, that bring on Storms on the Church, and People of God. We have told you what Storms came on Israel in the Wilderness, after their coming out of Egypt; and we have told you their Sin that brought them on; unsteadfastness in the Lord’s Covenant, murmuring against God, tempting of God, Diffidence and Unbelief; despising and loathing of the precious Manna, their rebelling against God, their corrupting of the Worship and Ordinances of God, &c. See if we be not Guilty of all these Sins: Have we not been unsteadfast in the Covenant? Is not the Obligation thereof in great Measure forgotten? and who has remembered to perform his Vow unto the Lord, almost in anything, either in the National, or Solemn League and Covenant? Are we not guilty of lusting, and not satisfied with the Things that God hath given us, but the Heart is carried away with the Lust of the Eyes, the Lust of the Flesh, and the Pride of Life? Are we not guilty of repining against God? Are we not guilty of despising and loathing the precious Manna of the Gospel? Are we not guilty of Misbelief and Tempting of God? Are we not guilty of corrupting of the Ordinances of God and spoiling many of his precious Truths? And are there not many speaking of making a Captain to return again to Egypt, and to involve themselves in the Bondage of all these Corruptions which have been formerly cast out, and engaged against in the Covenant; and if for these things God brought Storms on them, how shall we avoid them.
Reason 3d. A third Thing that says there is a Storm coming, is, because these amongst whom he doth eminently manifest himself he doth also eminently try them, that he may bring forth their Faith and Patience. We have had Trials, but none of us have resisted unto Blood, they have been but fresh Water Trials: The Trials are not answerable to these eminent Dispensations enjoyed. We have but run with the Footmen, and have not yet contended with the Horsemen, we have not yet swim’d in the swellings of Jordan, Jeremiah 12.5.
Reason 4th. A fourth Thing that says that there is a Storm coming, is, because that there is among us a Huge Multitude of hollow-hearted Men joined in the Covenant with treacherous Hearts, the Lord hath brought forth many of these already, but it’s like there will be more visible Discoveries, that will make Men disown and disavow the Covenant of God.
Reason 5th. Another Thing that says ye would look for a Storm, is, because that is already begun: The Wind of the Lord’s Fan is already begun to blow; severals who were eminent in the Work of the Lord are imprisoned; several Ambassadors of the Lord’s House cast out; and doth not this say that there is a Storm coming.
Reason 6. And Lastly, This says, that ye would look for a Storm, because all the wicked, and these that have been Enemies to the People of God are already lifting up the Head; and that is aye the prognostick of a Storm.
Use 2d. The second Use is: As we would look for a Storm so we would not stumble at it when it comes, because it is the Work of our God, it’s the ordinary path Road, that the Lord uses to take or give in his Dispensations to his Church. There are several sorts of Stumblings that Folk fall in, when the Lord is pleased to bring Storms on his Church and People, all of them we would beware of.
Stumbling 1st. First the Stumbling of the Children of Israel that we read of, when Storms were like to rise, they Stumble so far as to speak of quitting of the Work of the Lord, and not marching on further to take Possession of the promised Land: And they speak of making a Captain to return back again to Egypt: We would fear that that shall be the Stumbling of many in thir [these] Times, that they shall take a Resolution to quit all the Work of God, and the Work of Reformation, and be content to be carried back again to these Corruptions from whence they were (by the Mercy of God) delivered. That is the most dreadful Stumbling, we warn you of it, and we beseech you in the Name of the Lord to take heed to it.
Stumbling 2d. A second Sort of Stumbling that we would beware of, is, the Stumbling of Doeg the Edomite, 2 Sam. 22, when a Storm was like to arise upon the Church and People of God, he Stumbles so far at these Things as he falls to be an Accuser of those that had been employed in the Work of God and walked in their Integrity, to accuse honest holy David; and from an Accuser came to be an open Persecutor of the People of God: We would take heed, that for currying of Favour to ourselves, we be not Accusers of others; this is the way of many in these Nations, they know no other way of currying of Favour to themselves, but by becoming Accusers of the Saints of God; look to it, for in a while ye will turn open Persecutors; when none would fall on the Priests of the Lord, Doeg the Edomite (ere he lost the Favour he had gotten) would fall on them.
3d Stumbling. A third Sort of Stumbling that we would beware of, is, the Stumbling of Shebna, Treasurer or Scribe, Isa. 22. When Sennacherib invaded Judah, though he pretended Friendship, yet he in a secret way complied with Sennacherib, and so far as lay in him supplanted good King Hezekiah, and the People of God; we would take heed of that.
4th Stumbling. Another Sort of Stumbling that we would beware of, is, That Stumbling of Demas, 2 Tim. 4.10, who when a Storm arises, he thought it meet to shift for himself, and embrace this present World. Demas has forsaken us, (says Paul) having loved this present World, and is departed unto Thessalonica. Look we pray you in this Place, to that that is most like to be your Temptation, viz. The Lust of the Things of the World, if ye will prove steadfast in the Cause that ye have owned, and therefore we would study to have our Hearts loosed from these Things that will make you Stumble in a stormy Day.
5th Stumbling. Another sort of Stumbling that we would beware of, is, The Stumbling of Baruch, Jer. 45.3, when he and Jeremiah were like to be put to Death, for the Cause that they were engaged unto, he fainted and was afraid, Woe is me (says he) for the Lord has added Grief to my Sorrow, I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest. We would take heed that we Faint not, neither be of a fearful Heart, own the Cause of God, and Interest of Jesus Christ. Yea, that carnal Fear carries Peter so far as to deny his Lord and Master.
6th Stumbling. We would beware of the Stumbling of Judas, who (when he got not the Thing he would have been at, by the following of Jesus Christ) he resolves to betray his Master. Look that Disappointments in following the Cause of Christ, make you not turn treacherous unto it.
And Lastly, We would beware of the Stumbling of the Men of Judah, Jer. 44. Jeremiah would have had them staying in the Land of Judah, and they would not, but would go down to the Land of Egypt. And they tell him, It was better with us (say they) when we burnt Incense to the Queen of Heaven, and poured out Drink-offerings unto her, for then had we plenty of Victuals, and were well, and saw no Evil. We would take heed that nothing make us to call in Question the Cause of God, that we have been engaged into.
3d Use. A third Use, If it be so, that Tempests and Storms are like to blow, then we would be careful to prepare for them.
A few Things we would name, that we would look to for preparing of us.
First, We would study, to have our Ship as light of all unnecessary Burdens, as we can; I mean, all Things of a present World, all Things beside God, and our precious Soul; we would have as little Weight of these Things on our Spirits as we may, for they will sink our Ship in a Storm.
2ly. We would be careful to make Friendship with Jesus Christ that blessed Pilot, that we may get him in the Ship with us, for we are not able to steer our Ship in a Storm.
3ly. We would be careful to keep a low Sail, to have our Spirits humble and low before the Lord, for the humble Soul is most like to hold out, when the Wind and Storm blows.
4ly. We would be careful to get the Knowledge of the Cause that we profess; for indeed a dark Night is ill to sail in, when the Wind blows, and when there are quick Sands before us,
And Lastly, We would be careful to have our ship well ballasted with the Faith and Patience of the Saints.
Use 4. We would consider what grounds of Consolation we shall have for strengthening of our Hearts, if we bide fast by the Cause of Jesus Christ, for the biding out of a Storm, if so be God be pleased to bring it on us.
We might name many, only at this time take these few. The first Ground of Encouragement, is, that you have a good Cause, I mean the Cause of God, and the Interest of Jesus Christ, speak against it who will, forsake it who will, Reproach and Persecute it who will, Doubtless, Good is the Cause, the Cause is worth the contending for, worth the Suffering any Thing that can come for it.
2ly. Another Thing to be a Ground of Comfort to us, is, as we have a good Cause, so we have a good Captain too, Jesus Christ the Lord, who is the Captain and Prince of Salvation, who was never put to the Worse, and who sits at the Right-hand of the Father, and will Reign there till he make all his Enemies his Footstool.
3ly. Another Thing to be a Ground of Consolation to us, is, as we have a good Cause, and a good Captain, so we have good Company too, all in whose Hearts the Fear of the Lord is in these three Nations, yea more, we have all the Saints that have lived since the Beginning of the World; for all the Cause they have owned and suffered for, is one and the same, though there be sundry Branches of it; we have also the blessed Promises of God, and we have the Experience of all the Saints; we have also our own Experiences; and many things more of that kind. O that we know our Privileges, for strengthening of our Hearts to be sincere and steadfast in his work. And so we close.