William Guthrie - Sermon Sentences - 1





Look if the world, or anything in it, lays claim to the first-fruits of your labours daily. If it be first in your heart, or first in your hand, in the morning, it is your God; for a man's God claims his first thoughts, and ordinarily his last thoughts at night, and often his thoughts when he is sleeping. 0, how few can say their sleep is sweet unto them on a better account, and, when they awake, they are still with Him!
Look if the world lays claim to your most precious time, which is devoted to a deity. Doth it come often in your heart when you are about holy religious exercises? it is an ill token.
Look if the world takes the pre-eminence of God more avowedly, hasting all His matters that it may take up the whole man, but never hasting itself to give God His due; wearying of God, but never of itself. And look if, for a business of the world, your heart will curse God and blaspheme and sin against Him. This is a woeful token.
Look if the world claims the prerogative of quickening your soul; then it is your God. Hath it power to enliven you when most dumpish and indisposed for anything? But the remembrance of all that God hath said or promised in spiritual things doth not so, and hath no power nor influence upon your spirit, to quicken or cherish or raise it up. That is a bad token. Yea, you who are godly, in as far as you yourselves guilty in these things, know that you a too far engaged.
From a sermon on Ps. iv. 6, 7; -preached Dec. 27, 1655

A Workman not Needing to be Ashamed
A minister who is a pointed shaft, taken out of God's own quiver, may persuade men a great length towards Christianity. Paul persuaded King Agrippa far. It is true, no minister can give the thing; but a serious minister, that preacheth home, is a great help and promising mean. Such do speak from conscience to conscience, and divide between the marrow and the bone; yea, as one speaketh home to men's hearts, he evinceth from them some rational and peremptory answer: they will not get a powerful preacher shifted, like another man. Nay, a searching minister will find a portion of light within any man's bosom, which he will quicken by persuasion to speak for God. Let it be a lamentation that there are but few such ministers in the land, and small care in the people to seek after such.
From a sermon on Acts xxvi. 28 - 80; preached Dec. 80, 1655.

All in All, or Not at All.

Folk may move a great length towards true Christianity, and yet reach not the thing. It is the plague of many to be brought such a length, for they settle on their lees, and it slayeth them. This should alarm you all.
Look on the parts of a man. He may reach far in his knowledge; had not Balaam great revelations? In his will or resolution; so did Saul in a manner change his heart towards David, when he was convinced. In his affections; he may love, rejoice, delight in the things of God. In the outward man; he may reach a deal of reformation, both in regard of sin and of duty. In his judgment; he may judge the things of God excellent - many said of Christ, Never man spake as this Man.
Consider the common steps of a Christian work, and we shall find him come a great length who hath not the thing. He may be under conviction, as Saul was. Under the terror of God, as Felix, who trembled. Under some joyful reception of the truth, holding out a refuge. Under some calm and quiet of mind, in expectation of His favour; so were the foolish virgins. He may be a man of some experience, as Balaam, whose eyes are opened to see the visions of God. All this may be followed by some reformation; Satan may go out of the man for a season, and yet his estate be bad.
If we consider profession, and the parts of it, he may go a great length. He may talk much of Law and Gospel. He may confess much to his own shame. He may humble himself in sackcloth, as Ahab did! He may ask for the ordinances of justice, as a man that fain would know and do duty. He may side and join with God's interest in a very hard time; so Demas and others, who afterwards left the apostle! He may give much of his goods to God and the saints so did Ananias and Sapphira - if not all his goods, and his body to be burnt.
If we consider the most special graces, he may have things very like them. He may have a sort of faith; so are many said to believe in Christ, to whom He would not entrust Himself. He may have a huge deal of repentance, and walk mournfully. He may have a strange measure of the fear and awe of God. He may have a strange sort of hope; so are hypocrites said have a hope which perisheth. He may have He may have flashes of joy, very like the joy of the Holy Ghost, even the powers of the life to come, as if it were preludes of heaven. Yea, he may have more than I can now condescend upon, and be almost Christian, and yet have nothing of true Christianity, a dram weight of which can lay claim to the crown of heaven, and that most justly.
Remember that these things are not my allegations but clear and manifest, according to the Scripture. And, therefore, look to yourselves, and be not easily satisfied, for it is very hazardful to be a half-Christian.
From a sermon on Acts xxvi. 28 - 80; preached Dec. 80, 1655.

"Thou hast delivered my soul from death."

This mercy, rightly seen, bulks bravely in a man's eye. It is on the front and top of all his mercies, and The true stock of his riches, and it binds the vows of God on him. For it is the determination of his greatest controversy, that was most vexing and of greatest concernment. It is an inlet to all other mercies here and hereafter, a sure pledge of them, and speaks his ground-right to them. It hath a power of comforting over all tribulation. It quiets the soul in all future contingencies, which use to vex men's the man, whose heart is fixed, feareth no tidings and cannot be greatly moved. Yea, it giveth confidence in all things. Then try by this, what real discovery you ever had of your souls deliverance. Do you lift it above all your mercies? Judge you it your stock and treasure, engaging you to Godwards? Have you peace and confidence and comfort in the remembrance of this?
From a sermon on Ps. lvi. 18 ; preached Dec. 81, 1655;
"Which a Man Found and Hid."

There is prejudice by venting religion too soon. Profession gets the foregate of both knowledge, faith, and tenderness; and ordinarily there is an ill-holden house afterwards. I may say, through the untimely din of some folks religion, both godly folk and piety do suffer. It often holds true, they that show their gear long to be robbed. This reproves many who, they but find some warming in the outer court of affection, proclaim that they have found Christ. Stay a while, till you look about you; the trial follows. But you question me: What shall we do, if we may not vent what we find? Go and examine thy way, by what thou findest in others and their finding of the jewel. Go, look what ado you have had for it, and search your former ways. Bethink what it may cost you, and what you must quit for it., By all means insure it, and hide it till you do insure it.
From a sermon on Matt. xiii. 44; preached July 26, 1656.

"Joie! Joie! Pleurs! Pleurs!"

Keep as close as you will, there will be a joy in thy soul that will make health in the countenance. The broken bones must sing and greet, and greet and sing, and hope and fear, and fear and hope. Look if this contrariety of tides be, or hath been, in thy bosom; it speaks good, and thou must not think it a delusion that the soul dare so soon rejoice. Let it alone, it shall perhaps get mourning enough; but a blythe heart must be at the entry of sweet Christ in the soul - on the first sight of that attainable rock to the drowning man.
From a sermon on Matt. xiii. 44; preached July 26, 1656.

He Abideth Faithful.

Why is He called the Bridegroom, since the marriage is past between Him and many? There are various answers. Because of the vigour and greenness of love that is still on Him; He remembers the love of espousals and kindness of youth. Because He is still wooing others, and carrying on marriage daily. Because there be some things to perfect to them all, whom He hath married.
What, then, is wanting in that marriage-business, for which Christ must come back to perfect it? There wants full possession of Himself, which we could not bear hereaway; we shall drink of that wine new in His Kingdom. We want that equipage that beseems the Lamb's wife; she will be made suitable to Him, when she shall be made like His glorious body. She wants possession of the dowry, of which she hath got but poor infeftment (i.e., investiture) hitherto - these rivers of pleasure, these mansions. The saints want a full sight of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, whom they shall see no more through a glass. In a word, He is yet to put them in a state, where they shall be not only in a capacity not to fall out of His love, hut also out of a capacity of offending Him and of all mistakes of Him.
And these are great things.
From a sermon on Matt. xxv. 6; preached Aug. 18, 1656.


It were a sweet life, if we might dwell still with Christ, and nothing come between Him and us. If we had it in our choice what to do, we would soon be determined; a fool's bolt is quickly shot. We would all seek to be taken away to heaven together in a cloud. There be several things make us wish so. There is the difficulty of enjoying His Face; we find it almost impossible to keep ourselves in tune for His loves: therefore we cry still, It is best of all to be with Christ, and, When shall the shadows flee away? W would fain know what He is face to face, without the glass of burdensome ordinances; we would have the day breaking up that way. We fear much what may overtake us in our time, having a body of sin in us, and many tentations, and we every day at the pit's brink, and our foot near slipping; so we cry to be delivered from this body of death. There is our unprofitableness in our generation, not daring to say with Paul, It is Christ for me to live; no wonder we desire to be gone. There is our hopelessness to see Christ's matters recovered again - the glory and the beauty as we have seen it; this made Elijah to wish himself away. There be the manifold cares and burdens, even the sore travail that God hath given men under the sun to be exercised with; which makes His poor people groan with all His creation to be delivered. Some may add this, The woe of offences; some times are so kittle (i.e., hazardous) that men can hardly walk without offending or being offended; and often they wish for the wings of a dove, to leave all these things; they would fain be buried for a while. There is an universal decay and inclination to sleep among the Lord's people, joined with hopelessness of bettering their state and condition; so they would venture upon etemity. And there are the persecution and hard. dealing they meet with.
Hardly will we find so many things to countervail these, for which we should desire to stay. But Jesus Christ knew all these things; and yet, having both in option - whether His friends should be taken up heaven, or stay in the world - He will have them pass their course here a while
From a sermon on John xvii. 15; preached Oct. 19, 1656.

The Foolish Man builds his House on the Sand.

The hypocrite has hope. His hope is to lay up some satisfying stock to himself in the world, after which he will disquiet himself more: "If I had this or that done, I would trouble no more"; though still they get new occasions that way. His hope is never to be moved; having fastened roots in the earth, he thinks to make out something, let the world roll as it will. He hopes many times that all shall be well with his soul; any thought he hath of it is soon at a point, as one of the foolish virgins. He has hope to leave enough to them that are behind him, and so to have his memory blest in the earth.
As for the grounds of this hope, I shall comprehend them all under these. They are sensual, and lay much weight on a present visible good, and look not at things to come. They are atheistical, and know not that there is a Higher than the highest, disposing of the affairs of men, casting down and lifting up. They are brutish and ignorant, taking the abundance of the world for evidence of God's love and goodwill. Yea, -and sometimes they are popish, and many think their charitable deeds will gain heaven to them.
And what strengthens them in their way? Their good is present, and in their hand, and visible, and they have known no changes; therefore have they hope in spite of anything. They see rich men die in their nest, and no bands in their death, and no difference between them and poor godly folk; indeed, the rich die with appearing advantage over him that hath been plagued every morning. It is not granted to them that one should be sent from the dead; and they do not believe the Law nor the Prophets. They see godly folk regarding much the things of the world, and seeking much after them, and that is a great snare to them, and encourages them in their way. Some precepts tending to diligence in our business, having promise annexed, do fortify their hope.
0, study to have a hope in God, the ground which must be the words on which He hath caused you to hope, and the conviction of the vanity of all things else.
From a sermon on Job xxvii. 8; preached - Jan. 15, 1657.

The Giver of the Everlasting Life.

It is God Himself.
He is no churl, but very bountiful. A man needs not scar (i.e., fear) to take a good turn of Him; for He is a hearty, liberal God.
He is One who may well give it. He is the Lord who saveth whom He will. And it costeth Him not much now to put it out, having once given the Son; He but says to folk dying in their blood, Live, and it is so. It is as native in a manner, and kindly for Him, to give life to poor dead dogs, and beseemeth Him as well, as shame beseemeth a transgressing party.
He is One in whose debt you are already, infinitely and above count or payment; and so you need not stick at this - take it on among the rest.
He is One who will not take it well if His gift be despised, or refused, or suspected to be out of favour. Is not this the controversy between Him and men? He is One that can and will avow and maintain His gift against all deadly (i.e., against all opposition). It it God that justifeth; who will condemn ?
From a sermon on 1 John v. 11; preached April 19, 1657.

The Reign of Darkness.

Consider man in all his ages, aud we shall see darkness exercising much power over him. When he is a child, it puts out itself in lying, contention with parents or other children, in playing on holy days and hatred of religious duties. When he comes to some further years, it puts out itself in vanity of apparel, in scoffing at religion, jarring with others, youthful lusts, and much self- conceit. In riper years, it puts out itself in worldly- mindedness and covetousness, deceit, oppression, and pride of self-righteousness.
Or let us consider man in every part of him, and there we shall find this power of darkness. As in his understanding, where he is wise in evil, ready to invent mischief, wise to shift duty and reproof, and a mere fool in all the things of God. In his memory he is most tenacious of wicked and profane purposes, and of injuries done by men - he cannot forget this and he is most forgetful of all things that belong his peace, and of his latter end. In his will we find a general averseness from what is good, and a strong inclination to what is evil. In his affections - his love, joy, delight, sorrow, fear - he is set on wrong objects; none of them exerciseth itself in what is pleasing God or advantageous to the soul. In all his outward members - his eye, his ear, his tongue, his hand, foot - he finds weapons of unrighteousness, and employs them unto the works of darkness.
And consider man in his ordinary ways. The ways of his calling: what self-seeking! what love to a present world, preferring it to the matters of God! What falsehood! What sacrificing to his own net! The ways of his liberties: eating, drinking, wearing, sleeping, playing, without fear or respect to God, never minding the end for which these things were allowed, or whereaway excess in them leadeth. The ways of his fellowship with others: fortifying their atheism, leading them from a living God, teaching them to transgress, crossing their good purposes, filling the field with vanity. The ways of his relations: a child, as a parent, as a husband, as a wife, as master or servant; what huge undutifulness is there, .cannot soon be told. The ways of his religion: what hypocrisy! what profaning of the Lord's name! what desire of man's applause! what rotten atheism, and mocking of God to His face! what doing of the of the Lord deceitfully, and yet conceiting in self-righteousness!
These all being duly considered, man must appear be a poor, captive, miserable slave to sin; and who will deliver ?
From a sermon on Col. i. 18; preached on Aug.8, 1657.

A Good Soldier.

Your duty is wholly militant, for the triumphant state is after this life. Keep yourselves and Christ's interest in your generation; for the enemy, from whom you are rescued, is set against these.
If you would he a faithful subject and soldier, you must be vigilant. You must be temperate in all things, and sober in the use of the creatures. Be on your guard, lest you be found napping and asleep, and so surprised. Challenge timeously, when the enemy moveth. Give intelligence to the Captain of all the motions of the enemy within you ; for this, says Paul, I prayed thrice. Warn your fellow-soldiers of their hazard, for it will prove yours next.
If you would be a wise soldier, then take the surest way with anything; be not sudden to trust it; keep it under guard, till you see daylight; and bring it before the Captain to be examined. Fight the enemy, if you can, in your neighbour's quarters, and not in your own; stay not till the temptation be your own. Never fight but in sight of the Captain, if you can choose; for without Him ,you can do nothing. Never fight without fresh ammunition; beware of adventuring the field with your old stock; your ancient furniture is not readily fixed.
If you would be a stout soldier, play the man, says the apostle. Your courage stands in bidding be to every enemy; and in standing out the siege, thot long beleaguered, and though the Captain be far If you get the worse often, yet never despair victory, but rally again. Be of undaunted resolutio not only to challenge the enemy and defy him, you find but little strength, but also to bide out in this fighting life, till you be taken off by the Master. And, when it cometh to that, deliver things from your hand, with a good report and credit.
I add, as a special duty to all the subjects of Christ that they be respectful of the standard. The banner is the Gospel, the truth, and the ordinances. Keep sight of that, for it is in the Master's hand; the Standard-Bearer. Be not moved from truth Endanger your life for the truth.
From a sermon Col. i. 13; preached Aug. 10, 1657.

Of Him, Through Him, to Him.

The first failing in our duty is in this, we forget that God is the Lord; especially in one of these three respects -
That of Him are all things. It is He that must prescribe laws, and He that must give knowledge of and respect unto these laws. And He it is whose breath and influence alone make dead dry bones live and move. 0, what holy, awful dependency would be on Him in all things, natural and spiritual, if this were believed! But the faith of it must be from Him also. That through Him are all things. When He hath set them on foot, they cannot continue in their being but through Him, and as they are and have sparkles of His image, and are fluttered over by that Spirit that moved on the waters. 0, what self-denial, and adhering to Him, would be here in things which are, as well as in things which are not; for what is, it is as in Him, whence, if it depart, it is nothing, if not worse.
That to Him are all things. Not only is He the last end for whom all things are made, and towards whom they do drive; but the proper end of each being is that God may be made manifest. He will, by all things that are, whatsoever they be, some one way or other appear to be what He is; so that whatsoever is be, some must be to His account and behoof. 0, what abstractedness from your created ends and designs, and what reverent submission to His will, would be in men, if folk did practically believe this!
Study to know Him, in these three respects to be the Lord. It shall contribute much for your duty.
From a sermon on Ps. xlv. 11; preached Aug. 17, 1657.

"A Sensible Armsful of God."

They who wait on God sometimes get a sensible armsful of Him, as did Jacob.
This palpable communication of God to the soul is not a visible apparition of Him, as was wont to be both before Christ's coming and after it. We require not such things now. Christ being come in the flesh, He needs no more preludes of His incarnation; and this Gospel is so verified, there needs no voice from heaven. Nor is it a vision of God in a dream, when deep sleep is upon men; wherein folk say, they a light shine about them, and dreamed such and such things, half-sleeping, half-waking. God in these last times hath spoken unto us in His Son, and more clearly; and what is promised of dreaming dreams and a seeing visons in the latter days is but to hold out how great the light shall be, and what homeliness we have God; lasses and lads shall have as much as some singular courtiers of heaven had in old times. Nor it a breaking up of a new light in the soul, with quaking and trembling, overthrowing all the light was before, and establishing a light inconsistent with the Scriptures; for we find no such thing in the Word of God, which to us is a surer word of prophecy than a voice from heaven. Nor is it a stretching of the affections with some joy; nor yet some head - tastings of the powers of the life to come. These may be without any saving change of heart.
What is it then?
It is a sensible manifestation of God to the soul, making out His respect, as if He spake to the ear, man greatly beloved! His Spirit can impart things a man's spirit, without the help of outward organs. This carrieth along with it the signification of the power the man hath with God. It beareth also a beam of light upon my former receivings of God and of His image; and a beam of light on the Scriptures to which these do relate, either promises, or such as speak of marks and evidences of the life of God. It beareth also, along with it necessarily, access with boldness and confidence.
There is somewhat done to the man, answering the love-embracings of the bridegroom over the bride, or the husband over the wife, showing that God's delight is in him, and that the King greatly desireth his beauty. His Spirit can make out sweet love to our spirits, without corporal organs; as if His left hand were under our head and His right hand embraced us! This is the shedding abroad of His love in our heart. There is such heavenly influence of His dew seizing the branch of the soul, that all the powers of it are in a like manner dilated to hold much, and all the principles of the new life are quickened and enlivened, the wind so blowing, the spices flow out. Now in case, in the imparting of this love, there is such a declaration, a palpable outmaking of union and communion between God and the soul, that the soul is as with marrow and fatness, and there remaineth more spirit in the man, as is said of the Queen of Sheba.
Now, this is not always equally communicated to folk. But some have more of it, and some less; and same person, at sundry times, diverse communications of it, sometimes more biding, sometimes more transitory; sometimes more distinct, so as he can give good account of it, sometimes more indistinct, so the person only knows and finds it, but cannot well make others wise in it.
From a sermon on Gen. ii. 26; preached in the Autumn of 1657.
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