Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.
~ Daniel 3:16, Matthew 10:19, 1 Samuel 7:12
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked. And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
~ Numbers 6:26, Job 22:21, Isaiah 48:22, Ephesians 3:19, Nehemiah 8:10, Proverbs 2:11
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
~ 1 Peter 1:4-5
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
~ Jude 1:24-25
Sermon on Philippians 4:6-7, by Alexander Henderson.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
~ Philippians 4:6-7
It is a matter, beloved, that is very comfortable for us, to have this peace and this liberty to assemble ourselves thus publicly in the house of God all of us together, for serving of the Lord our God, and for advancing the salvation of our own souls. And when the Lord gives unto us such a fair hour of the day of his gracious visitation in such a tempestuous time as this is, we had need to take notice of it, and to learn to make the right use of it. Even as ye know people use to do when there is a unseasonable harvest time, whenever they can have a fair hour in it, they cut down their corns and gathers them together. And yet, albeit that this sort of peace be a very comfortable thing, to have such a peace at such a time, yet it is exceeding far more comfortable for us to have our souls filled with that peace, whilk is spoken of in this text, whilk now we have read to yow. And this peace, when we would have it, we must still come to Christ, and get it through him: and that peace, whilk is gotten through Christ, is that peace whilk passes understanding. And if we had it, we should be guarded and keeped by it, in our hearts and in our minds, against all these fears and discouragements wherewith our souls are compassed about, as by so many enemies; and we must of necessity be overcome by them, unless we be guarded by such a strong guard as this peace of God is.
Surely, beloved, this is the very thing that of all things we stand in greatest need of at such a time as this;69 and it is the thing that can keep us best in all troubles; and it is attained by these means’ that now we are about of the word and of the
69 This discourse, whilst adapted to a sacramental occasion, was also evidently intended by the preacher to prepare his hearers for the crisis in civil and ecclesiastical affairs which he saw approaching.
sacraments. This is the thing that the Lord does promise unto us, and we are to expect it from God through Jesus Christ, when we use the means, according to his direction and warrant set down to us in his word. And a special help and a mean whereby we may get this peace of God that passes understanding is, to be solist (solicitous) nor careful about nothing, what the success thereof sail be; but in every thing, by prayer and supplications, let our requeists be made known to God. Let us not trouble ourselves with anything, but only have a care of doing our duty; whether it be for the preparation of anything that ought to be prepared, or if it be for the communication of anything to us, whether it be in matters of the world, or in such matters as this is that now we are about, what the event and success of them sail be, let us leave that to the Lord. And if so be that we perform that duty whilk is required of us, and leave the success to the Lord, then this peace of God, it sail always serve for this end to be a strong guard unto us. Now for the exhortation itself, it consists in three things, 1. What it is that we are forbidden to do,—“Be careful for nothing.” 2. What it is that we are commanded to do,—“In everything by supplication with thanksgiving let your requeists be made known to God.” 3. There is something that is promised here, whilk is the most rare and excellent jewel, and the richest treasure that ever was yet heard of, and does fardest pass our capacity and understanding,—“The peace of God.” For the world we may compass with our wits and our understandings; but we cannot do so with this peace of God, for it parses all understanding. And if so be that we get this peace of God, it sail be a strong guard to us against all our enemies, both outwardly and inwardly. And all this we have through Jesus Christ. And so we have contained in the words, What it is that we should not do; what it is that we should do; and what sail be the event of all that we do, if we do it after the right manner. We have many enemies to rancounter in our way, and therefore we must be careful in everything; but we must not be careful about the event, but only to let our requeists be made known to God by supplications with thanksgiving: and doing so, we need not to trouble ourselves about the event, but be secure concerning that, having this peace of God through Jesus Christ. But let us now go on in order with the words as they lie in the text.
1. “Careful.” The word that is here translated careful, as it is in the original language, it is sometimes taken in a good part, as it is ver. 20, cap. 2 of this same epistle. The holy apostle says there, “For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your estate;” whilk is the same very word that is used in this place. And indeed, it is no marvel notwithstanding the nature thereof be taken in good part. Because there is no man who has a care to do his duty, but his mind always does agitate the matter; and there is two sides there, and the one of them does always dispute against the other; and then, when they have disputed the matter, whatsoever they think both to be best, they conclude upon that, that they will do it: and when it is so, there cannot but be a disputing between the one part and the other; and where there is a disputing, there cannot but be a division, and so a care to choose that whilk is best, and to do it. And yet, nevertheless, the word more ordinarily is taken in ane ill part, to signify ane unlawful care. And for this cause the late translators of the Bible, they have done very wisely in translating this word both these ways; that when the word is taken in a good sense, they translate it after the word care, and when the word is taken in ane ill sense, they translate it carefulness. Because when it is so, to be careful carkingly, it fills the heart full of care, and it rests not in doing the duty; but these who has it, they are troubled and has a carefulness to know what sail be the events of that whilk they do.
Now if ye will consider of them, there is a very great difference between the one and the other. For the duty of care, it is commanded of God to care for everything, and it is also commendable so to do; but for this carefulness, it is expressly forbidden of God, and it is a thing that is altogether unlawful. This lawful care, it is only a providence and a foresight to prevent some things, and to get some things done, so far as we can, looking always to God’s providence to overrule; but this carefulness, it is a diffidence and distrust of God’s providence towards us. Again, this lawful care, it fills the head with thoughts to choose that whilk is best and likeliest, and to do our duty in it; but for carefulness, it falls in upon the heart and oppresses it, and makes it to sink and to soupe (pine) in grief and sorrow; for it can never see the end of anything, what it sail be. This lawful care, it contents itself with doing the duty in anything, it rests there; but for this unlawful carefulness, it does not so, it cannot content itself with doing the duty, but it would evermore be at farder; it troubles itself about, the success and event what that sail be. Now ye may see the odds between the one and the other is very great, for the one is commanded of God and is lawful; it is only a providence and foresight of things, that makes them who has it to think upon doing their duty, and it rests there; but for that carking carefulness, it is altogether unlawful and forbidden of God; it is a distrusting of God’s providence; and it cannot rest in the head, but it falls in upon the heart and troubles and vexes it even like to those furies, or like the burning of the fire of hell. And it cannot content itself to rest upon the doing of a duty about anything, but it would always be at that, to know what sail be the success and event of everything. Beloved, this is a thing that is natural to men, not to keep a mid course in things, but either to be in this extremity that they care none at all, or otherwise, if they take them to care, then their hearts are filled with unlawful carefulness. While we are in peace and prosperity, and all things that way are well with us, then we have no care at all; and then when any affliction or trouble comes upon us, then our hearts are so full of carefulness that we wat (wot) not what course to take that we may be freed of it;
Beloved, I may say that these many years past ye have lien in security, and ye have made a covenant with hell, with death, and with the grave; but I think ye have not considered the work of the Lord, as ye should have done, in it; for if so be that ye had looked to it aright, ye might have seen the Lord punishing that covenant ye had made at that time, and punishing you for the breach of that covenant that formerly ye had made with the Lord. And indeed, (as I told you before,) ye departed but over soon and over easily from your former covenant with the Lord, and from the purity of religion. But now ye are entered in a renewed covenant with him again; and I wish from my heart that many of you who has done it have not done it for the fashion, and for company’s cause, because many of the rest of the kingdom has done it, or for some worldly respect. And now, upon the other side, I wish that your carefulness grow not als great as your carelessness was before, and so ye be driven from the one side to the other, between two extremities.
Now there is a threefold care, that we of this land are careful about at this time. First, there is a national care. What sail become of this whole nation;—whether we sail have peace, or if we sail have war in it?70—whether we sail attain to our liberties both religious and civil, and if we sail get religion established in the land in the purity thereof? And indeed, if so be that we return to our former estate wherein once we were, then we sail be the most slavish people every way, that ever was heard of under the cope of heaven: we sail be in a greater slavery than the people of Israel were, when they were under the Egyptian slavery. The second care of this land it is a domestic care; noblemen caring what sail become of their houses and rents; barons and gentlemen thinking what sail become of their houses and their estate; and burgesses thinking what sail become of our burghs, of our houses, of our ventures71, if so be that we sail stand out against human authority for the cause of divine authority, and in obedience to divine authority we obey not them in human authority. And we are caring for this, what if prelates sail return to this land again? Once ye of this city were in carelessness about this; ay, ye prided yourselves in this, that ye had the great Primate and Metropolitan of Scotland, and your city was called the Metropolitan city—that ye had the great Chancellor of
70 This was just the question that was trembling in the balance at that very moment. The sagacious mind of Henderson would even seem to have anticipated nothing less than war, judging from certain things in subsequent sermons in this volume, and war was the actual issue.
71 Ventures. The interruption of trade with England and the continent was what the government chiefly counted on for breaking the resolution of the country, and this had already become the source of considerable alarm in the burghs. “A few ships, well disposed, will easily bar their trade.” — Hamilton to the King, Nov. 27, 1638.
Scotland to stay into your city.72 And now ye have carefulness about it; ye think what if he sail return in all his former pomp and grandeur, and come in violence against you, must ye not then all coutch (crouch) under him? And what if your pastors who has at this time deserted you73, that they would not preach to you, what if they sail return to their places again, how sail they rail against you most despitefully! Now all these is to trouble yourselves about the event of things. The third sort of care is a personal care; such as ye of this congregation has, and all these who are come here at this time,74 to receive some comfort from the Lord. They will say, I am corned here now to the use of the means, but I wat (wot) not what I will get for my coming; I wat not whether I will profit anything or not. But I say, for all these cares, whether national, or domestic, or personal, whatever your care be, do ye these duties that the Lord commands to be done by yow, and remit the success and the event of all to God. But there are so many thoughts that meets together into our heads at once, like a number of contrair winds ready to swallow us up, or like a deluge ready to drown us; but there is no remedy for all these, albeit we were presently compassed about with ane army, but only for us to do our duty, and to remit the success and the event of all to God.
And I will shew unto you two or three reasons wherefore ye should do this.
First. Because our carefulness about the success and event of anything, it is to take God’s prerogative from him. 1 Peter v. 7, the apostle says, “Cast all your care upon God, for he careth for you.” There we have a commandment to cast all our
72 Spottiswood, Archbishop of St. Andrews, succeeded Lord Kinnoul as Chancellor of Scotland in Jan. 1635. He was the first Protestant Churchman who filled that high office, and his appointment to it gave great and lasting offence to the nobility. He left the kingdom, never to return, in August of this year. He writes to Marquis Hamilton about this time, “As we cannot look for any peace here, we will take the nearest way to secure ourselves.”— Baillie I., Appendix, Ban. ed.
73 That towne (st Andrews) has now no ordinare ministers, but are applied by the Presbytery.”—Baillie, Letter to Spang, lst Nov. 1638.
74 Another incidental allusion to the presence of strangers, noticed in the extract minute prefixed to this discourse.
care upon God, and we have a promise annexed to it, that he will care for us; and so it is a suitable thing for us to do. And Psalm xxxvii. v. 5, David says, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he sail bring it to pass:” that is, roll over all your ways or adoes (affairs) upon the Lord. What is that, to roll over all our ways upon the Lord? The meaning is this; I find a great burden of cares all convening together in me, whilk makes up a unlawful carefulness, and makes me to neglect the doing of my duty, and only to look to the success what it sail be. Now, I see that I cannot bear this burden, and therefore I take it, and rolls it aff myself over upon the Lord; and henceforth I will trouble myself with no more, but only do my duty, and not look to the success what it sail be. This is to put our trust in the Lord; and when we do so, then we may be sure, because he has so promised to us, that he will bring the matter to pass. It is not possible for us to bear such a burden, and to think upon the success of anything: and then it is God’s prerogative that belongs to him. And so, in troubling ourselves about the success of anything, we do two wrongs, 1. We take on a burden upon our own back, whilk we are not able to bear, and so wrong ourselves. And 2. The Lord has taken the success of everything to be his own prerogative; and, therefore, in so doing we rob God of that whilk is his due. And sail we especially, who has had such experiences of the goodness of God in former times, begin to trouble ourselves about the success of things now? Who was it that did first of all think upon us, to bring us to life, and brought us out at such a time, when the light of the gospel is clearly preached; and has so long and constantly provided for us; sent his Son to the world to die for us? And, especially, to look unto that, that he has begun so fair and so glorious a work among us, and has already brought it so far on, sail we now begin to cast doubts about the success thereof? No, no. Let us not do so, but let us pursue and go on to the uttermost in doing our duty, and we sail find the success in end to be sweet and comfortable. Sail we then sacrilegiously rob God of that whilk is his prerogative and due, and take the thing upon ourselves whilk we are not able to do?
A second reason wherefore we should not trouble ourselves about the success of matters is this. What will all our carefulness do? it will help us nothing at all, as ye heard the day already.75 “Except the Lord build the house, he that builds buildeth in vain: except the Lord watch the city, he that watches, watches in vain.” It is in vain for us to rise up early, to lie down late, and to eat the bread of sorrow all the day long, except the Lord give the blessing to our labours. And indeed, if when we are doing our duty we look only to the success, and care for it, we can have but little comfort in it. Can any of you by your carefulness, as our Master says, add one cubit to his stature, or change one hair from white to black? Now, if ye, by your care, cannot do these things which are so little, how can ye do anything in these things the doing whereof belongs only to God? And so take not the care of success and event from God, for then ye will be as orphans and fatherless children, who has nobody to care for them but themselves, and so are ill cared for, yea neglected. And seeing he has given his word, passed his promise, and panded (pledged) his truth to care for us, and yet we do not lay our burdens over upon him, it is well wared76 that he should lay them over upon ourselves, and break our back with them, and yet the success to be but bad when all is done. And, therefore, let not carefulness about anything oppress us, especially carefulness about the world. Neither let us, for any care or fear of this kind, depart from the smallest thing that is in our Covenant77 for if ye lose but one dram weight of God’s glory and honour, ye sail not miss to lose a whole stone weight of your own with it. Remember but of Haman’s policy, that he used to establish himself and his after him, and to attain to respect and honour. He thought that the meetest way to do so was to have all the Jews throughout the kings provinces cut aff; and yet that same was the very mean of his utter ruin and decay. And remember also of Jeroboam’s
75 An allusion to the discourse preached in the morning by, as the prefixed minute informs us, “Mr. Andrew Auchinlek,” the Sermon and the minute thus mutually confirming one another.
76 Well-wared. Well deserved.
77 It was part of the policy of those in power to get the Covenanters to resile from their late solemn engagement, and fall back upon the original and more general Covenant of 1580. This Henderson and his brethren strenuously and successfully resisted.
policy, that he used to get his kingdom and his throne established for ever. He thought he would not have the people of the ten tribes going up to Jerusalem, as they were wont to do, for fear that they should be allured some way to join themselves to the old Kingdom of Judah again; and therefore he would erect two calves, one at Dan, another at Bethel, that the people of the ten tribes might worship there; and then he thought he was sure enough, when he had done so. And yet, that same was the very mean of taking the kingdom from him, and from all his posterity after him. And remember also of the policy of the Pharisees and elders of Israel in our Saviour’s days. They say, If we hearken unto him and believe in him, then the Romans, they will come upon us, and they will take our nation and our city from us, and yet their not hearing of him, and believing in him, was the cause wherefore the Lord made the Romans to come upon them to destroy them. And so men, by their policies and devices that they use contrair to the commandment of God, they are aye twining and twisting so many ropes to hang themselves, and when men begin to fight against God, he can take their own sword and sheathe it into their own side. And so, when thou thinks that thou are establishing thyself by some sinful course, he will turn it upon thyself, and disappoint thee of thy purpose. I will only give you but one example of this, and it is written, 2 Kings x. Ahab, he was a very wicked man, and sold himself to work wickedness; and yet he resolves that he would have his kingdom and his throne established, whether God would or not. The prophet Elijah is sent unto him to tell him that the kingdom should not be established in his seed, to tell him that none of his posterity should reign after him; and in very familiar terms he tells it, that there should not be left of his seed so much as one that pisseth against the wall. Now this wicked man thought that it should not be so, albeit God had said it; and therefore he takes to himself many wives, and he begets many sons, even the number of threescore and ten; he commits the keeping of them to seventy princes of Israel, and they were all keeped within the strong walled city of Samaria. So he thought they were sure enough then, and yet Jehu, he rises up and causes these same princes, who had them in keeping, to take all their heads aff them in one day, and bring them and lay them down before the gate of Jezreel. Men may resolve that they will make themselves and their generations to be great men, and to stand sure in the earth; yet the Lord, he can take a besom and sweep them clean away, so that there sail be no memory of them, except it be a remembrance of ignominy and shame. These who kent them or had anything to with them, they sail be ashamed of them, when they hear of them. So let us learn to be careful in nothing carkingly.
II. “But in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requeists be made known to God.” Obj. Then sail we be careful for nothing, sail we take no care at all? No carking care, but only let us do our duty, what God has commanded us to do; and when we do so, it is not carefulness; but let us remit the success of all things to God, and let us present our supplication to God in prayer, adding withal thanksgiving. Here we have three things to be considered of. 1. There is the duty itself. 2. The extent of this duty. 3. The end wherefore it is done. For the duty is prayer and supplications with thanksgiving; the extent of it is in everything; the end is that by these, your requeists may be made known to God.
1. Now first of all for the duty, ye see there are three words in it, prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. And ye will see, 1 Tim. ii. v. 1, there is another joined to these three, to wit, Intercession; and so there are four of them. Upon whilk place it is that the Papists buildeth their mass, and they allege that they have for their warrant of their exposition of it that way, the Fifty-ninth Epistle of Augustine, written by him to Paulinus;78 and they say that according to that same order that he sets down there in his Epistle, and is used 1 Tim. ii., is the sacrifice of the mass done. For, first of all, they have in it obsecration, whilk we call supplication, and this done before the consecration of the elements, 1. There is prayer, and this is used in the very time of consecration, and afterwards also when the priest says, “Audemus dicere Pater noster.” 3. There
78 “Illa plane difficilime discernuntur ubi ad Timotheum scribes ait, Obsecro itaque primum omnium fieri obsecrationes, orationes, interpretationes, gratiarum actiones.”—Aug. Epist. LIX. Vol. 1. Paris, 1614.
is postulations used in it, whilk we call intercessions. 4. There is thanksgiving used in it, for bestowing upon the receivers the real presence of the body and blood of Christ. And even according to this order, some men in this land has taken upon them to defend our Service-book, and the prayers that are used in it, and so what the Papists has tane to defend their mass, some of our clergymen has tane the same to defend the Servicebook.79 And indeed, just reason have they so to do, for there is not two things can be liker others than these two are, the one to be in English and the other to be in Latin: and, indeed, if our Service-book be rightly examined, it will be found to be nothing else but directly ane English mass.
But indeed, this of the Papists is very ill reasoned from Augustine. It is true indeed, he speaks of all these four sorts of prayers, but he speaks not a word at all of a mass in that place nor any other, nor of a sacrifice for the sins of the quick and the dead, nor of Oblation, nor of Adoration. No, no; these were only set down by him because of the ignorance of these who lived in these days; but there is not so mickle as the appearance of a word of a mass in them. And there is also a sweet meditation of Bernard, De quatuor modii orandi.80 It is true it is sweet-like indeed, but how sound it is I leave that to yourselves, to be judged by yow, for I will not stay to speak of it now. He says, we are hindered to pray two ways.81 One is, we are hindered to pray when our light is not great; again, we are hindered when our light is over great. When we have no light, then we are hindered to pray to God, because we see not our sins; and when we have over great light, we are also hindered to pray to God, because then we see our sins to be so many and so great that we dare not. And therefore is it that our light, it
79 Probably Dr. John Forbes of Corse, whose treatises, says Baillie, 1. p. 248, tended directly to a reconciliation with Rome. Dr. Baron had also writte pamphlet in defence of the Service-book. See Row’s Appendix.
80 The reference is here wrongly given. It should be, “De affectionibus orantium.” Bernard has a sermon, “De quatuor modis orandi,” but in it there is no allusion to the subject in hand.
81 Duobus autem modis impeditur oratio peccatoris: veil nulla, vel nimia luce.-Sermo CVII, De Affectionilus Orantium. Works by Mabilon, 1. 1228 b. Paris, 1680.
must be tempered unto us, that we have neither too great nor too small light; and when we have such ane indifferent light as that, then it is that we are rightly put to pray. And at the first, he says, we come to that whilk he calls verecundo affectu. The sinner dare not pray for himself, but he desires that another may pray for him. And for example of this, he brings in the example of that woman who had the bloody issue, who durst not come near to Christ, but only touched the hem of his garment. The second degree that we come is from that whilk he calls (puro)82 affectu; and he bringeth ane example of this from that woman who did wash Christ’s feet with her tears, and wipe them with the hair of her head: she came near to Christ, but she held herself very laigh. The third degree, the sinner comes to, it is from a more ample and large affection; when the sinner dare not only pray for themselves, but they dare also pray for others; as the woman of Canaan did, who besought Christ for her daughter. The fourth degree they come to is from devoto affectu, as he calls it; and for this he brings in the example of Lazarus. When Jesus raised him from the dead, it is said that first he wept, and then before he was risen, Jesus lifteth up his eyes and says, “Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me.” As I told you, this is very sweet-like, but the solidity of it is not to be lippened to (depended on): it is like a thing that is very sweet or beautiful-like, but has no substance with it. And therefore, we must not ground our faith upon such conceits as these, albeit, for the most part, it has been counted the learning of this generation wherein we live.83 And, indeed, I think if a man might surely ground upon these, he might soon come to that, to cite anew (enow) of them. No, I think there be no ground at all for it, to say that these four be four diverse sorts of prayers; that Supplications be made for removing of ills,
82 The word within brackets the reporter had failed to catch. We have been able to supply it from the original. The whole passage stands thus—“Primo, ergo ejus oratio debet fieri verecundo affect… Secundo, oratio sit puro affectu….Tertia oratio effunditur amplo affect… Quarta oratio emittitur devoto affectu.”—Ibid.
83 A deserved hit at the practice of the Prelatists of that age, which is the practice of too many still, of referring continually to “the Fathers” and other ancient writers, in proof of their opinions.
imminent or incumbent; that Prayer is for supplying of good things we would have; that Intercession is when we intercede for others; and that Thanksgiving is when we offer praises and thanksgiving to God for hearing us in these. But the meaning of all these is, to express the nature of prayer unto us, that we may learn, when we are once begun in it, to pray for all these: and so when we fall upon such a ground as that, it is best for us to keep ourselves by it. The thing that we are to learn here is, that the best way for us to disburden ourselves of our carefulness about the success of anything, and to roll the matter over upon God, is to pray to God, and with prayer to join thanksgiving. “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving;” according to that, Ps. 1. 1, “Call upon me in the day of thy trouble; I will answer thee, and thou sail glorify me.” Thou knows that it is God who hears prayers, and thou prays to him; and then thou says, I have prayed to God and he has heard me, and therefore I will glorify him; for by that thou knows that he is not a dumb nor a deaf idol; for I know that he both sees and hears. And, indeed, this is a strong second to faith, when the Lord is pleased to deal so. And when it is so, that thou has prayed to God according to his word, and he hears thee, then it is not possible but thou must praise him; and therefore, in the Psalm, the name of the Lord, it is called a strong tower. Most unhappy are these men who cannot disburden their cares upon God. And when God is beginning to work anything wherefore thou ought to care, then he is calling thee to pray to him, and so to cast the burden aff ourselves upon himself; and, indeed, it would be a comfortable way for us, if so be that we could learn to do so. It is a pitiful thing to see men soped (worn out) in sorrow, and in the. depths of affliction, and not to know so mickle as that there is a God to pray to, or that he is calling them thereby to pray to him. I know the natural man when he is in this case, he has no mind at all to pray; but the child of God should not do so: and therefore let us learn always to come to God, and to make him our resting place. Let him be the breath of our nostrils, and let us always lift up our faces toward heaven to him; for he is our King, our Lord, and our Husband; and if we cast our care upon him, he will care for us; yea, he must care for us, if we rely upon him, for he is bound so to do. And surely, when we wat not what course to take, nor what to do, but we see all to be against us, then let us send up that winged messenger of prayer to heaven, and it sail not miss but it sail bring help to us. And so, when the sancts and children of God are at ane extremity that they wat not what to do, but outwardly they are enclosed by enemies on all sides, then faith comes in by the Word of God and says, I see you in ane extremity that ye know not what to do; ye can see no way how to get anything in to yow, nor how to get a messenger sent out from yow, nor have ye any who will hazard to go for yow; yet I know of a winged messenger who has a way to win upward to God, and he will help. And, indeed, albeit Saint Andrews were presently enclosed about with companies of men, so that we could see no way to send a messenger to get relief and support to us, yet we would find this winged messenger of prayer ready to go up for us and to fly to heaven’s gates, and rap and knock there; and it would win in through the Mediator Jesus to the Lord of hosts and armies, of whom ye heard the day. And if we could use this messenger aright, he could soon send down help and supply for us.
Now, for this prayer, it is also joined with thanksgiving; and there is a necessity in three respects that thanksgiving be joined with prayer. First, when we are praying to God, we must thank him for what favours we have received already from him; and there is none but they know that they are bound to thank him for these. Secondly, we must also thank him for favours presently received, for of necessity there must be a conjunction of these two; for that is certain, he who sets himself to pray in the Spirit, before he have done with prayer, he will find matter of thanksgiving to God for some favour at that time received. Ye may see the example of this to be clear in David, throughout many of his psalms; he begins them with many heavy and sad complaints, but ye will see again that he endeth many of them with joy, praises, and thanksgiving to God; and this was not for anything that he had formerly received from God, but for something received by him at that same meantime. And we should also thank him, at least promise thanksgiving to him, for the benefits that we are to receive. Lord, if we be not foolish, who will not promise to be thankful to the Lord for his favours, when we crave them of him? We have no other rhetoric to move the Lord to grant anything to us, but only to promise to him to be thankful for it, when we have gotten it. And so thanksgiving and prayer are joined together in all these three respects. And surely whoever they be who comes to pray to God, and thanketh him not for his by-gane favours, it is a token that we are altogether unfit and unprepared for prayer, when we give not thanks to God, neither for favours bestowed upon ourselves nor upon others. Secondly, when we pray to God, and it is not joined with thanksgiving for present favours, it is a token that our prayers are only but lip-labour. And when we pray to God, and does not promise to be thankful to him for afterwards, then it is a token that our prayers are nothing else but hypocrisy; for if we could do otherwise, it is a token that we would not come to God for it. And, therefore, if so be that thou be praying to God for a good success, either to thy own particular adoes, or for the matter of thy salvation, or for success to this sacrament, or are praying for a blessing to this church and kingdom, let it still be joined with thanksgiving. And ye of this city, ye have reason to do this, both to pray and to be thankful to God, to humble yourselves, and to pray to God to pardon you your sins in falling from his truth, and to praise him for that he has begun to make his light to shine among you again, and be thankful to him that he has granted you any sorrow of heart for your sins, and given you matter of joy, in returning the purity of his worship in any measure among yow. Evermore, when ye pray for anything to the Lord, resolve evermore this far at least, if so be he give it, I will be thankful for it, especially if it be for a matter of grace, either for thyself or for the kirk.
2. Now, ye be remembered there were other two words I promised to speak of to yow. The extent of this duty of prayer, in everything. Before, ye heard he said, “be careful for nothing.” Now, he says, “In everything let your requeists be made known to God.” The one of these is contrary to the other; the one speaks of nothing, the other of everything: and so ye see that the one is of als large ane extent as the other. Christ will have the smallest thing to be cared for by us, but only with this caveat, he will have us to know that it is he principally who cares for it to us; and he will have us to show our care by praying to him for it. If it be a great matter that thou stands in need of, then recommend the matter to God, and resolve that thou will wait upon him for the success thereof: I will only do my duty that the Lord requires of me to do, yea, I will not leave aff doing my duty till it be done, and resolve to do so in the smallest matters also. Luther had never wun to such a reformation as he want to, if he had not laid that ground; and he uttered speeches to that same purpose. Some thought them to have been uttered rashly and unadvisedly, but he spake them in confidence and boldly; he said at one time “The Pope sail sooner be converted, and turn from his ways, than I sail quite this.” And if it be in small matters that thou has ado (as I think the strongest and the greatest wit that is upon earth will find the smallest matter to trouble him mightily, if he care for the success thereof himself); and when thou art troubled about the success thereof, think that it is a direct calling upon thee to recommend the matter to him by prayer; then go to thy cabinet and recommend the matter to him there, or go to the house of God, and lay it out with the people of God there. Do thou thy duty in it, and recommend the success thereof to God; and thus thou sail find the peace of God possessing thy soul. O if we kent this, what a communion there is between God and the Christian soul! They cry to him, “Abba, father, my father,” the bairn will not cry ofter to the father or mother, when it would have anything from them, or when anything aileth them, nor we should see a continual necessity laid upon us of elevation of our souls to God in prayer. But, especially, beloved, we would be exceeding, earnest with him in this great matter of the kirk of Christ in this land; we would be continually making our requeists known to God concerning it. And, therefore, we are exhorted by the prophets to give the Lord rest neither day nor night till he establish Jerusalem and make it the praise of the earth again. And so, howsoever your prayers have been in time by-gane, whether ye have been slack in them, or if ye have been fervent in them, yet now be fervent and constant in prayer day and night, and give the Lord no rest till his Sion be established, and made the beauty of this land. And, Isa. li. 17, “Awake, awake, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury:” and then, after that, he goes on promising mercy to them, if they will call for it. And, Is. Ixiii. 16, they say, “Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not; doubtless, O Lord, thou art our father:” so that, albeit all should forget us, yet we may have recourse to God and seek help from him. And, Jer. xiv. 7, the prophet says, “O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake:” and so he goes sweetly in confessing their faults, and in praying to God. So that if we be acquainted with the Word of God, we may learn by it that we may have our recourse to him by prayer in everything: but especially in the matters of the kirk, we ought to be most earnest with him in prayer for that.
3. Now the end wherefore this should be done is, “That your requeists may be made known to God.” Question.—Does not the Lord know what are our requeists before we present them to him in prayer? Answer.—Yes, he knows them as well before as he knows them after, for this is the difference between these supplications that we put up to God, and these that we put up to men; for when we present a supplication for anything to men, we present it for that end, to make our requeist known to them, because they know it not before, or at least they know it not perfectly; and we do it to move them to grant our requeists: but it is not so with God, for neither can we inform him any better concerning our estate than he is already, nor can we move him to grant us anything, whilk before he did not intend to give us. But the Scripture speaks so of God, because the Lord has ordained us to use this mean of supplicating and praying to him, even as if we were to inform him of our case, or to move him to grant anything to us; and we should be als careful and als solist (solicitous) in prayer, as if it were so. That whilk we have to learn from this is, that that promise and decree whilk God has given out that he will do us good, it should not hinder us to pray to him, but it should rather further us to it. Isaac had a promise of God, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. Now, seeing that Isaac had this promise, he might be sure that he should have seed; and yet when Rebekah was barren, that same promise made him pray to God to perform his promise he had made, and grant him seed. David had a promise of God that his house should be established, and he kent that it should be so; and yet that same promise made him to pray to God that he would establish his house. And Elijah, he kent well enough that the time of the drouth was past; and therefore he prays to the Lord that he would send down rain upon the earth. And Daniel, he kent also that the time of the captivity of the children of Israel in Babylon was worn out, when the 70 years were expired; and upon this he prays to the Lord to deliver them. Ay, the children of God knows this to be true by experience, that their prayers are as prognostications, telling them beforehand that such a thing sail be; as when there is appearance of ane good year to come, then the people of God are stirred up to pray for it; and this is a token to them that it is to come. And so when I see appearance of a good work, and this stirs me up to pray, this is it whilk moves the Lord to hold his hand still at the work. Obj. If the Lord have resolved to do anything, whether I pray to him or not he will work the work. A. It is true so he will, yet it becometh us, when we see the Lord working for us, to go out and meet him; and if he have ordained any good thing to be done to thee, readily (likely) he will stir thee up to cry to him for it. And so when either a whole kirk or a particular person are disposed to pray to God for a blessing, that is a foretelling of such a blessing to come upon them. And it is the surest token of a blessing to come upon the work of Reformation in hand into this land, if all the people of the land were stirred up to pray to God, as they have professed to be desirers of a Reformation.
III. Now, the last point in the text is, the benefit that is promised to them who does so; and it is “The peace of God.” Whilk peace of God is so great a matter that it passes the mind, judgment, and understanding of all men to take it up. And where this peace is, it guardeth the heart and the mind from all invasions of enemies. And the way how we come unto this peace is “through Jesus Christ.”
First, then, it is peace that is promised. Peace; yes, peace. Peace is a thing that is sweet and amiable. When there is a natural peace among all the humours in the body, and one of them strives not against another, then there is health in the body. And when there is domestic peace in a family, between master and servants, husband and wife, parents and children, it is a sweet thing; when there is no disturbance at all among them, that family will thrive. And when there is civil peace in a kingdom, and it is not divided in itself, that is most comfortable; and it is the way for the uphold of a kingdom: but where there is division in a kingdom, it is the ready way to bring the destruction thereof. And peace in the kirk, it is als comfortable a thing again as any of these is; how beit indeed this peace of the kirk, it is ofttimes mistaken, as it has been among us. For there were none who cried faster for the peace of our kirk than those who were the very disturbers of our peace, and was the cause of all our division in this kirk.84 And what was the peace they cried for? Nothing else but a peaceable possession of their lordly dignities, and of their prelacies, and making themselves great in the world, to get a house established for themselves, and for their seed after them.85 And so, for all in the kirk to go always in one way, and so to have peace in it, that is not the best of it: division is better to be in a kirk, nor for all to go on in a course of defection. It had been better there had been a division in the primitive kirk, than that all should have agreed peaceably together to the setting up of Antichrist, as they did, except it was only some very few persons, who kythed (showed) themselves against it. And it is not so ill that there should be a rent and division in a land, as that all of them should go posting to perdition together, and so bring the curse of God upon them and their
84 The peace and good order of the Church were always in the mouth of the king and his counsellors as the plea or pretence for the introduction and maintenance of Episcopacy.
85 “I could speak of other apostat ministers also, who for a long time were opposits to the Bishops’ courses, yet in end, some through ambition, some through avarice, some through both, or being oppressed with poverty and debt, thinking by that mean to get relief to their estates and ruined houses, embraced bishoprics, such as Patrick Forbes, Laird of Corse,” &c.—Row, p. 260.
posterity. Whilk curse would undoubtedly have come upon this land, if we had all of us peaceably received the Servicebook and Book of Canons, and practised them through the land.
Secondly, “The peace of God.” Why is it called the peace of God? Because this peace, it is with God; and this peace of God is the most excellent thing that can be, for there be none who can trouble them, with whom the Lord is at peace: and if he be against any, so that he be not at peace with them, whether it be nation, or congregation, or particular person, how can they stand before him? 2. It is called the peace of God, because it is he who is the author of this peace; it is he who gives it to these who has it. We may say that we sail have peace, but except the Lord grant it unto us, we sail not get it; and therefore we may not trust in man, nor in the arm of flesh, to get peace by them; but we must only trust in God for it.
Thirdly, “It passes understanding.” This peace it passes the understanding of all natural men. The natural man, he knows nothing at all of this peace; speak of this peace to him, and of faith who is the mother of this peace, and of joy who is the companion of it, they are strange and uncow (uncouth) language to him. He cannot conceive of that, nor think of it what it means. Yea, this peace, it passes the understanding of the regenerate man and of the child of God, even after his new birth; he apprehends something of this peace, and it brings him to this to think what it is, but yet he cannot tell what it is, for all that. Even as a man when he is coming to the sea, and he will know by that whilk he sees that it is the sea, but he cannot see the whole sea from the one side or from the one end to the other; and in this it does resemble God himself, for it may be seen that he is great, glorious, wise, powerful, &c., but there is none can tell how much he has of every one of these. Even as it was (with?) the Queen of Sheba, when she came to see Solomon; when she had anes gotten a sight of him, it is said she had no more heart in her, her heart departed from her; she saw so great glory, so great wisdom, and all things that were in him so far beyond that whilk was reported to her of him, or whilk she thought to have seen. Even so, when the child of God gets any measure of this peace, he cannot imagine what he has gotten of it, it is so far beyond his expectation: there is none who understands what this peace of God is, no these who has it; and so they cannot express it, but they know well enough when they have this peace. Even as it is in the health of the body, speir (ask) at any man what it is, he cannot tell you what it is, or how great a benefit it is: but he knows well enough when he wants it, and he knows best then what is the worth of it: even so is it with the peace of God in the soul.
And then where this peace of God is, “It guardeth the heart and the mind.” It guardeth that part of a man, whilk does understand everything, and it does also guard that part of a man, whilk does affect and desire everything. There are a number of ills that are continually assaulting us; but whoever are possessed with this peace of God, it puts away all these enemies, and makes us to overcome them. And all this is attained unto “through Jesus Christ.” And there is also a peace whilk cometh through the assurance of the remission of our sins; and this we get also through Jesus Christ. And there is a peace also when all the powers of our soul agree together to serve God; and this we have also through Jesus Christ. And therefore we must first of all be partakers of Christ, and then we sail assuredly be partakers of this peace.
And I would have you thinking that there is somewhat of this peace to be had even here in this life; and therefore seek after it, and be never content with yourselves, neither be at rest whill (until) ye get it, and that in some good measure. And albeit ye find not this peace begun this day into your souls, yet seek still after it through Christ, and ye sail find it to come in, and to take possession into your souls. Ye heard, the day (today), of the shining of God’s face: so there is a lifting up of God’s countenance upon his own children, and ye should labour to understand what is the meaning of these things. If ye have eyes to see, ye will know when the sun shines, and when it shines not, and ye will see a difference between the one time and the other: even so there is a difference between the estate of the soul, when the face of God shines upon it, and the estate thereof when the face of God shines not upon it. And Ps. xxv. 14, it is said, “The secret of the Lord is revealed to them that fear him;” so the Lord revealeth secret things to his own, whilk the world knows not; and it is only through Christ that he reveals to them the secret of their election, or any other secret. And Ps. xxxiv. 8, David says, “Taste and see how gracious the Lord is:” there, ye see, the children of God get a taste of his goodness through Christ. And in the Canticles the spouse says to Christ, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth;” and in another place, “Let him embrace me with his right arm,” &c. Think ye that these, and such other things, are spoken of, and are not to be found? No, but all of them are sensible to the Christian soul; and they are not problems, but realities. But, whatever thou findeth of these, see that it be through the testimony of God’s Spirit, bearing witness to thy spirit, and that it cometh through Christ: and then thou sail get that hidden manna; it sail always spring up to thee, like a wholesome well to refresh thee, and not as a rotten pool to poison thee: thou sail get that white stone with that new name written in it, whilk none knows but these who has it.
And therefore, since that this is the very thing that our Lord is holding out unto us in this sacrament, and is offering Christ unto us, through whom we have them all, let us go unto it now to get all these. Especially let us go to it, that we may get this peace of conscience, whilk passes understanding, that so our hearts and minds may be guarded thereby, through Jesus Christ, To whom, &c.
We have to regret, beloved, that when our hearts should be present, and should be lifted up, to the praise and honour of God, and to the comfort of our own souls, that then we should find them to be blind, senseless, and unbelieving, in the receiving of spiritual things: when we look unto them, ofttimes we find them astray aff these things, and there has been great business about our Covenant, and we cannot get men satisfied concerning it. First of all, they would had it destroyed, and no subscribed copies thereof to be keeped.87
86 This “Conclusion” appears to be, not the conclusion of the foregoing discourse, but the conclusion after the celebration of the Supper. The discourse is formally closed with the preceding words, “Through Jesus Christ, To whom, &c.”
87 See the Author’s “Reasons against the rendering of our sworn Covenant and subscribed Confession of faith,” which, says Baillie, l., p. 84, put the Commissioner from all hope of obtaining any such proposition.
Then when they could not get that done, they would had some special clauses put out of it.88 Then when that could not prevail, they would had us making a declaration close against the meaning thereof.89 And then, last of all, the enemies brought in another Covenant among us, as their last and deepest policy, to see whom they can draw away thereby from it. And therefore, however others deal with this Covenant of God, I would exhort you to take heed that ye deal not wickedly with it. It is a pitiful thing, albeit there were no other difference but this, that when we have given our oath and set our subscription to particulars, that then we sail take ourselves to generals again. This were a rueing that we had condemned the Service-book and the Book of Canons, as smelling of Popery. And therefore, albeit that ye should be tempted to the subscribing of this new Covenant90 by the commandment of authority, see that ye do it not, but stand by your Covenant that ye have already subscribed and sworn,
88 i.e., The clauses for mutual defence, which were the main ground of offence and alarm to the King and his government.
89 “The Commissioner also would have them agree to a declaration of this clause of his forming; but this all did refuse,” Baillie 1. 87.
90 The “King’s Covenant,” or Covenant of 1580.
91 A page or two are here wanting, being the last of the St. Andrews Sermons, which seem at one time, as stated in the Preface, to have formed a separate Collection.