Sermon preached in Glenluce (c. 1660)
But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among
themselves, 'This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his
inheritance' (Mt 21:38)
This that I have read to you is Scotland's sin. This day, if our king and nobles had our Lord Jesus Christ amongst them at Edinburgh, what would they do with Him? They would give Him a gibbet, or worse if they could devise it. For which He shall deal with them ere long. The fruit called for now, here, is fruit called for from these husbandmen. You will say, 'What fruit is this?' You see it is fruit in season. This fruit is called for in thee, O Scotland, this day. This fruit, Sirs, is not such fruit as ye pay your rents with, as corn, hay, or the like, that your hearts love well. No, Sirs, it is fruit in season. I will tell you, Sirs, the duties that God would have taken off your hand thirty or forty years ago in Scotland, whether preaching or praying, or any other spiritual duty, He will not take off your hand today in Scotland. I say He will not take of your hand nor mine either, now when so much of the saints' blood has gone to seal these truths which we are all bound to own in Scotland, and in all these covenanted lands.
Now, O people of God in Scotland, there are some of you looking me in the face today. I appeal to your consciences whether this be true or not? Well, what fruit is this that is called for? Why, it is faith and repentance, love to God, and obedience to His revealed will, which many of you, yea, the most part of you, are as great strangers to as if ye had never heard the everlasting gospel preached unto you. Fervent prayer Now, people of God, what are you doing when such dreadful wrath is at hand in Scotland this day? He is not worth his place in Scotland this day, who does not pray half of his time to see if he can prevent the dreadful wrath that is coming on our poor motherland. O Sirs, you must pray ploughing, harrowing, shearing, and at all your other labour, yea, when ye are eating and drinking, going out and coming in, and at all your other employments. For there was never more need of them than now.
Oh, that noble life we must have of communion with God! O Sirs, it is He that makes heaven pleasant! It is communion with God that makes heaven. Will ye long to be there, O people of God! The words of the text declare that He would have fruit from you in this country side, and from you, O Glenluce. He sent you first a crumb, and then He sent you many of His faithful servants. Now He hath sent me to you to bid you pay Him His fruit. Little has He gotten from you, O Glenluce. But I will tell you what is for you, persecuted sufferers. Crowns of glory you shall wear ere long, and a remnant of you shall be preserved in all these sad days that are coming. Make your wills Sirs, I have news to tell you. There are many of you had need to be making your wills, for some of you will not have long to live in the world. Peace with God will soon be a good testament, Sirs, for Scotland shall be drowned in blood.
And then in that day of wrath that is coming on these apostate lands for covenant-breaking with God, the testimony of a good conscience will be a good feast when a bloody sword may be at your breast. Then peace with God will help to make a good testament in that day. 'Follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.' There are many of you here today from different places; and you are all come, professing to be worshippers of the living God, and believing folk. But I am now to describe to you five or six kinds of people who are in reality spiritually dead.
Ignorant of salvation
1. They are spiritually dead who are ignorant of the saving way of salvation through the covenant of redemption made betwixt the Father and the Son from all eternity. Those in Scotland ignorant of the work of God are dead spiritually; you are all dead folk. I had rather have one of yonder sufferers, bred at Christ's school in and through Clydesdale, than have an hundred of you to join with me. For ye have no weight with God, no grace; ye are not scholars at Christ's school. You are but dead folk.
2. A second kind of spiritually dead folk are you who are fair blossoming professors, but inwardly ye are as whited tombs, and are as rotten as dead graves, and have nothing but a profession, and do not know what the work of regeneration is. You too are but dead folk.
The cares of this world
3. A third kind of dead folk are you who are plunging in the world. You have no God but the world, and that bears most sway in your hearts. Ye are but dead folk, Sirs, and we must lay you by. If any would reprove you for your worldly-mindedness and excessive covetousness you say, 'Oh, we must labour for our living. Would you have us neglect our livelihoods?' But, O worldly miser and fool that you are, has not Christ said, 'Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and His righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto you.' O Sirs, if you trust God and give Him credit, He will help you at all your work. Friends, if you would own that covenant with Him, and make Him your own, I will tell you what He will do for you. He will plow your land, sow your corn, shear your corn, sell your corn, and bring home your money. I will tell you, friends, what He will do; He will even, as it were, rock the cradle, if it were necessary for you. He will condescend as low as ye desire Him, but ye must once close with Him, and that upon His own terms, and make a surrender of your hearts unto Him.
4. The fourth kind that we must lay by as spiritually dead folk, are your graceless and profane folk, both old and young. You abuse the time you should serve God in. You meet together, housefuls of you, dancing and playing, with your graceless wanton mirth, and your lusts burning strong within you; and you think you have liberty to do this. Ye will be angry if we call you adulterers or fornicators. But God will account you such, and if you do not get repentance you are really serving the devil in your lusts, in these sinful courses. O Sirs, is this a time for such a works when God is threatening to lay poor Scotland waste and desolate? You should rather be mourning and crying to God for shelter in such a dreadful storm, and sad days He is about to bring on these apostate, backsliding, covenant-breaking lands.
5. The fifth kind of spiritually dead are you who have gone with the storm, and have still complied, and given your consent to the banishing Christ out of poor Scotland by your bonding against Him. What are ye doing, Sirs? Unless He marvellously prevent it, I fear we will lose the blessings of our Reformation, and the enemy of Christ's kirk will be back to aid his pawns still lingering among us, and you are helping him.
I will tell you more of it, Sirs. If the Lord had not gotten three or four sacrifices of the blood of the saints in Scotland, we had all been bowing to stocks and stones this day, and to black idolatry. At Pentland, Bothwell, and Ayrsmoss the blood of the saints has run, giving testimony against all the usurptions that have been made upon Christ's crown in Scotland. I tell you, the generations that are yet to arise shall partake of the benefits of the poor suffering remnant in Scotland. Now old folk-What are you doing ? I fear the storm of persecution will lay you by. And you young folk-What are ye doing ? Will you venture life and fortune to close with Christ, young men and young women in Scotland? And I will tell you news of it, as to the young men and women who have followed Him in Scotland in the stormy blast, and have laid down their lives for Him. Your eyes shall see them on thrones, and crowns on their heads, and clothed with robes of glory, having harps and palms in their hands. Take heed what you are doing, for there are as sad days coming as ever were in these lands, namely in thee, apostate Scotland, for thy perjury and apostacy. We have all cause to be afraid that God is about to transmit His vineyard to another nation, to better husbandmen who will give Him His fruit better than we in Scotland have done.
6. A sixth kind of spiritually dead folk are those of you who do not have heart-holiness. Although you have a profession, yet you are but wanton professors, unconcerned about the case of the time. I fear the devil is in possession of many of you, boiling in your hearts' lusts and idols. Well, Sirs, all the ministers in the world cannot help you in your case. It must be Christ Himself that must do it, as He did to Mary Magdalene. For the devil is as really in many of you as he was in her. But I fear Christ hath quitted many of you and given you your farewell clap upon your heart, that He is likely to reprove you no more until He make His fury rest upon you. But, however, I have this to say, and remember that I have said it: Ye that want heart holiness, the devil and you shall come alike soon to eternity. I know not what I have to do amongst you this day, for it appears I can do no good. It seems the gospel is a sealed book to the most part of wanton professors in these lands and this generation. You were all perjured, complying with Prelacy, after you had covenanted with God and sworn and engaged yourselves in that covenanted work of reformation. As long as you do not mourn for that sin, as much as for adultery, whoredom, murder, stealing, &c., the gospel will never do you any good. I charge you to believe this, and ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me to tell you these things in that day when God shall summon you before His tribunal; and I leave these things upon you.
Martyrs from Galloway
But as for you, the sufferers in Scotland that God hath made choice of to give testimony for Him, the poor young men and women that have suffered for Him, and that He hath taken out to scaffolds, your condition is, 'A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.' The sufferers in Scotland have got the world under their feet this day. If He charges any of you in this countryside to go out and suffer for Him, do not deny Him. He has taken few out of Galloway yet; but we know not what He will do.
Now, people of God, wait patiently, and make conscience of dealing with Him, for I have news to tell you. He will stretch out His hand on all the malignants ere long. Yea, He will cut off the remnant of them out of Scotland ere long, although they have said, as in the words of our text, 'This is the heir: come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.' And if they had our Lord in Scotland this day they would certainly do so with Him. But for you, the poor, broken-hearted followers of Christ to whom He hath given grace to follow Him in the storm, I tell you grace is young glory. At your first conversion our Lord gives you the one end of the line, but He keeps the other end in glory with Himself. But Sirs, He will have you all there at length.
Warning against compromise with Prelacy
And now, I charge you not to meddle with any of these bonds or tests, for they will wrong you. It is the mark of the beast. The Scripture saith, ' That they that worship the beast, and receive his mark in their foreheads, or in their right hand, must have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.' And now I charge you to take counsel of neither minister nor professor, noblemen nor gentlemen, for they will counsel you all the wrong way. The blood of many a soul in Scotland will be charged upon them. For now our cursed nobles and gentry, yes, and many ministers and professors, are come that length in apostasy that they will scare at nothing; they are all given up by God. Know what is said: 'Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse.' While they are going on in their apostasy from and against God, the martyrs are going of the scaffolds singing, rejoicing, and praising God, going to glory, leaving a testimony against all their wicked steps of defection by shedding their innocent blood and leaving these lands in a sad case this day.
Exhortation to stand firm
O backsliding professors of Scotland, take heed to God's grace. Look that you do not fail of the grace of God in this sad day, and remember you cannot rely on past grace. Therefore, take heed what ye are doing. For it is no small measure of wrath that is upon poor Scotland at this time. I will tell you, Sirs, you had need to take heed to your doings in such an hour of temptation, when so many professors are going along with the storm; for there is nothing but divine immediate support out of heaven will hold you up in a stormy blast. A Christian who has been a standing Christian these forty years, in an hour's time of a fiery trial, may be laid on his back and made to deny Christ. And this should make us all tremble, and be humbled before the Lord. God save you from a sudden surprising temptation of which there are many in our day in Scotland.
Sustained in suffering
But to the poor broken-hearted believer who resolves in His name, and by His strength, to stand through the storm, I have news to tell you. Christ is as much bound to hold you up, as ye are bound to suffer for Him, when you are called to it. All those who have given a testimony for Christ these one-and-twenty years are a large proof of it. All of them, young and old, have been wonderfully held up; yes, unto the conviction of some of the persecutors themselves. They shall be witness against you who have flinched from the truth, or shall flinch from it, and these shall be an eternal standing witness against you. But yet, poor broken-hearted believers, as I said to you before, it is not such a measure of holiness as that of Enoch, of Abraham, of Moses, of David, or any of these worthies that God seeks from you. It is holiness in design, and to close with the salvation in the gospel. And now take heed that you double your diligence, and fail not of the grace of God in this hour of darkness that is come, and is further to come upon Scotland ! For it is a very sad and dreadful foretoken from God, that at this juncture of time He hath blown out almost all the lights in Scotland.
Now I leave it on you to mind the prisoners in Scotland this day in all the prisons of Scotland, as ye will answer ill the great day for it, and take a hearty lift with them in the time of their distress. And you young folk, I leave it on you to make conscience of closing with Him. You say, 'We are but young, and have time enough to repent.' But I will tell you, the Lord needs no other rod to chastise you with, but to let you live thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years in the world, and then if ye remain ignorant, He will cast you into hell. Therefore take heed unto yourselves.
And now, Sirs, I know it is neither right nor lawful for any minister or Christian in Scotland to join with others in taking houses to preach in, and to leave the fields. It were better for us all to go to the field in frost and snow to the knees, until we are wet to the skin, ere we bow to king, council, or one of them; for I know that the Lord will never bless the labours of one of them that have their liberty from them. And, now, in the name of the Lord I charge you to lay these things to heart, and mourn all of you before the Lord for the grievous sins of all ranks, from the highest to the lowest. Labour to have a suitable impression of them upon your hearts before the Lord, for God will have many a sad question to lay home to your conscience that you shall not be able to answer. For my part, I think happy are they who have their eyes closed and shall not see the evil that is coming on our nations [Scotland and Ireland]. The Bible, the word of Cod, can scarcely give a parallel; nor can the generation before, nor at this day, give a parallel of our sins; and therefore lay these things to heart. The churches abroad are hissing at us this day, and therefore I leave these things with you. The Lord bless them to you; for I fear we shall all have to do with it before the storm we shall certainly meet with in these lands is passed.
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