DONALD CARGILL - Sermon Four
The text is Zeph. ii. 2 : -
Zeph. ii. 1. "Gather yourselves together, yea gather together, 0 nation not desired."
There is much wrath already come, and there is much more coming, for the vials of wrath for great transgressions will be long in pouring out. Ye have won through it part of the battle, but it will be a wonder who will win through the whole. Ye know that though angel sounded, One woe is past, and behold there come two woes more hereafter.' What will ye thou say? Why, we will even say this : we are like a fleet at sea, and the storm is not only upon one or two of the ships but upon the whole fleet, and all within it is wasted and exhausted; all our ropes, cables, and anchors have failed, and yet the half of the storm is not over. What shall we then do? Why, for the Lord's sake row hard till ye win the port where ye may got all renewed again. And whether ye fall or win through, it will be well, for in the one case ye shall see Christ in his triumphant Church above, and have a perpetual sight of Him in His glory; in the other ye shall see Him in his militant Church here, and altho' it will not be such a glorious sight as the other yet it will be a glorious Church, see it who may. But that we may consider and speak a little on these words, observe first to whom He speaks, and second what He commands them : -
I. To whom He speaks. It's to a nation not desired. Now, by a nation not desired He means a nation that He has no pleasure in. And why should He trouble Himself any more about them? We shall say this one word, if it were known how little pleasure God hath in us, it would be thought a wonder that He should trouble Himself about us at all. What is there in the land now that God can take pleasure in? If there be anything at all it must be the poor small remnant that are coming out to these meetings against the will of devils and men, and that are following the gospel of Christ in spite of all the persecutions of the thes. And we will say this one word more, and woe's me that we have it to say, that tho' we seem to please God in one thing, yet we displease Him in another, so that He can never get us that length as to be thoroughly pleased with us. And for this may He not say unto us, we are a nation not desired? May He not say this unto us, we are more a grief than a pleasure to Him. May He not say now to the Church of Scotland, thou art wearysome unto Me, and art become one of the greatest griefs that I have.
II. What is the thing He commands them? It is to gather themselves together. And why? To tell them they are a nation not desired. For wherein cam the labour of the hands profit when the husbandman has no pleasure in the fruit of the ground? Even so may the Lord say, "What pleasure can I have in such as are not for Me? The devil may be rather pleased with you than I can be. I might take pleasure in him as well as in you, for the devil can talk and receive instruction as well as many of you." But 1 may say your corruptions bear you as boldly forward against God and his way as the devil's malice does. Now ye may say, What ! is there nothing in us that He hath pleasure in? Yes, there are two things that God hath much pleasure in. If they be in you it's well, but I fear many of you are great strangers to them both, and these are sincerity and brokenness of heart. I think I may say there were never such people as we are, such strangers to sincerity and broken-heartedness. For the want of the Spirit of God there is great danger of our being broken with the wrath of God. But, again, what does He gather together for? We are afraid that the first and greatest gathering together of the people of Scotland will be the day of slaughter. But this gathering together is for another design and end. It's to hear mercy sounding the trumpet that ye may flee out of the way of the wrath of God.
For I must say to man and woman, knowest thou where thou are lying? Even in the highway where the chariot wheels of the wrath of God are to come, and that immediately. And therefore get you out of the way of it and gather yourselves together before the fierce day of His wrath is come. For we know nothing more certainly of the the to come than this, that there is a deluge of wrath coming, and are ye not feared that ye are found in the way of it, ye that are taking pleasure in the lusts of the flesh, and following with other men the course of the thes? Thought for the present ye may think it's a small thing to be found on their side of it, yet ere all be done ye will find it the most dreadful thing that ever you did. Therefore, gather yourselves together for mourning, for praying, and for seeking God, and it may be ye will be hid in the day of the Lord's anger, as he expresses it in the third verse, "Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth which have wrought his judgement; seek righteousness, seek meekness, it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." Therefore, gather yourselves together, first to seek God, and secondly, to arm yourselves with meekness, righteousness, and truth. And when ye have done all it's but a maybe, but God's maybe is better than man's shall be.
Now can ye say ye have sought God thus, and that ye have put on this armour? Wherewith are ye clothed? A coat of mail will not do it; neither strong arm nor stout heart, neither sword, buckler, nor shield will do it. What then? Righteousness and meekness will do it if it be done at all for it's but a maybe if it be done when all is done. For the wrath of God shall even be like a drifting shower that goes through all the land. When ye see a drift it seeks out all the holes of the old broken walls, and wherever the hole is there it comes in. Even so wrath when it comes will let you see where the holes are. And again, when drift comes on, folk cannot get travelling between houses but it keeps them apart. Even so this wrath when it comes will drive the nearest relations asunder : it will drive the tender-hearted mother from her children, and the father will not come for fainting of heart to help either the one or the other. Well, Sirs, since thestorm is so great that ye have to come through, ye have the more need to take hold of the invitation and to gather yourselves together out of the way of it before it comes.
But the thhing that we shall more particularly observe from the words is this, that they are such a people that God can neither quit them nor delight in them. He cannot quit them without giving them some good counsel, nor can He delight in them for they are a nation not desired. Ye know what is said of divorces, that He hateth putting away. So it is with you ;He cannot quit you, and yet He cannot bide with you. Your sins are so great that He cannot bide with you, and yet his mercy is so great that He cannot leave you. 0 the wonderful love of God that He should deal thus with you! Is it not a wonder that our sins have not put Him away ere this the of day.
NOW the thing we would say is this, that He cannot get them altogether left nor altogether loved. There is something in himself that will not let him cast them off altogether, and there is something in them that will not let Him altogether love them. What shall we say then? Would you have Him coming and dwelling with you, and delighting in you? Then there are two things you must do. Ye must wash clean in the blood of Christ, for there is nothing so delightsome to God as a soul cleansed in His blood.. Then when you have washed in the opened fountain you must build Him a temple to dwell in, and that must be your heart. Ye must also help to the utmost of your power to build Him a temple in the land, and then He would reign in the midst of us, and we should no more be called a nation not desired, but a beloved people. But alas I we are not like to win to this. We shall not speak of the causes why God cannot take pleasure in us, but we shall give you only this one; it's because we have no delight in Him. Because we have left His standard and run away from Him, He has scattered us already. And yet if any take delight in Him He takes delight in them, be they never so mean or be they never so great. But as to the public causes of God's displeasure ye may see them in the second chapter of Haggai. It is because we have not buildod Him a house. Whenever ye begin to build the house of God, He will take pleasure in you.
Lastly, the command to gather themselves together imports two things : -
(l) A slowness in them;
(2) an earnestness in God.
1. A slowness to come out of the way before the chariot wheels of God's wrath run over them. Now, if a man be slow to his own safety, he will be much more so as to his own duty. Now what makes a man so slow? (1) The nature of a man makes him slow, and the greatest sloweness is oftimes to be found whore the grace of God is, if laziness got leave to enter in. (2) the devil also makes him slow. There are tempting, fashing, and entangling devils; there are also sleeping and enticing devils that will offer you a bed of roses to rest and take pleasure on, and will say to you, "had you not better do this than put on a yoke of prickles and go through so many thorns?" Alas! the professors of this generation do not know who has made their bed. We doubt if there be a bed of ease to any Christian in Scotland that God has made, and therefore if ye have such a bed the devil must made made it, and ye shall find it to be so when your awakening time comes. (3) But there is another thing which makes us slow, and that is when the providence of God is co-operating with every endeavour of men. It may be thought strange that God does not deliver you from your temptations, but his design is to try you that ye may look to Him for the needed assistance. Now we shall say no more than a word from this. Look well to your own nature, and especially to this feature of it, that ye are slow, and slower in nothing than in what concerns your welfare. This is one of the tricks of nature to put you off from good and to set you asleep again. Therefore remember this, that ye give not way to laziness though it come from the motives of the mind, for the mind must not always be your rule.
2. As a man is slow, so God is very earnest to have a remnant out of the way of His wrath, for the Lord exercises loving kindness and tender mercy. There are two or three things that set forth his earnestness : - (1) One is this, that He gives them so much time. (2) Another is this, that He gives such frequent warnings. (3) In His so often pointing out where their safety will be. It was so in the old world when there was no safety but in an ark. God gave them many warnings, but they would not repent or believe that judgments were coming; and. no more will we. But judgment is not the farther off, but rather the nearer hand on this account. But alas! we are so taken up with our outward comfort that we too seldom think about our souls. We see outward troubles and difficulties, and we labour to shun them, but we never consider the hazard our souls are in. It may be you see a bear in the way, and when ye are by that ye do not consider that there is a lion behind which will rend and tear you in pieces when there is none to deliver. Alas! our present troubles are so great that our soul's safety seldom comes to mind. Many professors are grumbling at the troubles of this evil time, and but few are considering how they are to be taken out of the way of the wrath of God.
Now, though the wrath of God has made a long stay, it will come, and when it comes it will not make frequent stops. It will not do like a carriage when a child is lying in the way, aimd those that are driving it either alight and remove it or go round about. If we be in His way He will be full of our blood, though it be poured out like water, for He has given us sufficient warnings and invitations, and sufficient time also to flee unto Him. Remember this one word, and we shall close with it ; ye will never flee out of the way of God's wrath if ye do not flee first unto God himself for pardon and peace. All of you who have not done this will be overtaken and cast into hell, where ye shall abide for ever. The Lord bless His own word unto you! Amen
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