TIMES OF PERSECUTION IN SCOTLAND,
SUFFERERS FOR THE ROYAL PREROGATIVES OF JESUS CHRIST.
Sermons & Lectures by Richard Cameron.
"Saw ye him whom my soul loveth."Song 3.3.
THERE is none upon the earth that hath so great joy as a believer has. There is none upon earth that hath so great sorrow as the believer. When the believer hath the Lord's face shining upon him, then he has more gladness in heart than the wicked man in his best estate, even when corn and wine abound. But it is sad when so few know this by experience. But the believer, when the Lord withdraws and hides His face, is then neither to bind nor hold, as we use to say, when to his sense there is no sorrow like unto his sorrow. "How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?" And for the making out of this we may likewise see in the former chapter. There the spouse had got a fast grip of her beloved. Well, what says she? "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." In a word she tells you what that is"His banner over me was love." What is that? Why, it is so much of him in her heart that she can hold no more. "Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love." In a word she shows what it is, and it is this, "Hold thy hand, for I can contain no more." But did this continue with her? No; ye may soon see a change as in the beginning of this chapter. "By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth, but I found him not." The people of God want not their night. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." I will tell you, and I am sure, that a great part of the ministers and particular believers may say as to the Church that this is the night with us, and I will not say but there are some particular persons, though very rare, that may be trysted with sweet hours with Joshua, Samuel, and David. When David was in the wilderness of Judah, he says, "My soul thirsteth for thee; my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is." We say a poor believer may be satisfied with marrow and fatness, and may say, "My mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips, when I remember thee upon my bed and meditate on thee in the night watches." I will not say but that some particular persons in these days, when the Lord hides His face from the house of Jacob, may have some sweet hours upon these considerations. But I say such are very singular, and seldom to be found. I trow for the most part they are at the worst with it. Those that never saw the Sun of Righteousness cannot now see the sun look down upon them; for now we scarcely see moon or star light. Many folk know not the light, because they have not been experienced in the light. Few discover or discern betwixt the day and the night. "By night upon my bed my songs were of him." Oh, how many have quitted their prayers since the hour and power of darkness commencedI mean, since the twenty-second of June!1 Many have given over their prayers and many have given over ordinances.
They say that these preachings and field-meetings would not suit them; but I hope it is not come to this yet, that all are left off seeking of Him in duty.
But now after this, says the spouse, "By night on my bed I sought him." I even sought him, but it was only in the season of the night. Would it have been thought that she would have been frequent in calling upon him in the night? I trow it is not so with many in the land; both professors and particular believers are grown most remiss in seeking Him. "I sought him upon my bed." It was very carelessly. The Church was now sleeping and discouraged by disorders. But how have many now given over praying, given over duty altogether? All they do is only for the calming of conscience. Well, I am afraid that they who have done so this morning will not find Him. I trow many have been very whole-hearted; and perhaps ye may find it to have been so, ere ye rise off the place where ye are now sitting. Ye have been seeking Him in the night time, and yet have not found Him, because ye have been so careless in going about your duty in the season of the night. The spouse found Him not so long as she lay in her bed. So the Lord will not be found of professors until they be more lively in duty. But more of this when I come to the words of the text afterwards. Well, what did she? She sought Him in her bed in the house quietly. She had no will to be heard without doors. "It is dangerous indeed," say many, "to go to the fields in the night time. Folk may stumble, and fall over some stone or other." Well, What does she? She rises, and goes about the city and into the streetsthat is, to the public ordinances, to the preaching of the word. She sought Him, but she came no speed. The watchmen that go about the city "smote her, and took her veil from her." Here by watchmen must be understood ministers; and, therefore, ye should seek for the pure ordinances. I will tell you, ye may come here today and yet find yourselves no better; but ye may go to the Lord and pray and cry to Him that He would bless the ordinances unto you. Ye must go back again to Him in secret when ye have done with the public ordinances. Well, when she found the watchman she says to him: "Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth?" She had her case more ready, I trow, than the most part of folk have. They may talk to ministers hours, yea, whole days, ere they propose such questions as this: "Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth?" And ye know that by "spouse" is signified the Church, or particular believers; and by her "Well Beloved" is meant Jesus Christ, the Beloved of His people. But in the words more particularly ye have the object of her love"Him whom my soul loveth," that is, Jesus Christ. He is the object of her love in the night of trial, in the night of darkness, in the night of desertion and persecution. The soul loves Him and still says, "Saw ye the object of the believer's love?" Sometimes He will slip away, as it were, from the Church, and withdraw and hide His face from her. Therefore seek Him, and long to get a sight of Him. I trow many may say, "Since I saw Him it is now a long time." Can ye tell what He said to you, and what ye said to Him; what passed betwixt Him and your souls; whether saw ye Him in the public ordinances, or saw ye Him in private, or saw ye Him in secret exercises when alone, or saw ye Him when reading or meditating upon His word? But I think ye that never had a view of Him should be saying, "O where shall I get a sight of Him?" I will tell you, if ye saw Him indeed aright it would overload your hearts. There was never one that saw Him aright but his heart was drawn out after Him. There is no such lovely object as He, neither in heaven nor upon the earth besides Him. Oh, what a lovely, excellent, beautiful one is He! O Sirs, how little can we speak of Him! Time would fail us to tell how excellent a one He is. He is far more glorious than the "mountains of prey." I will tell you, He is as well worth the seeking after as ever He was, notwithstanding all the things that the seekers and followers of Him have met with in this dark and cloudy day.
And there is another thing in the words. As she was under desertion, so she was under the sense and feeling of it, therefore, says she, "Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth? I cannot endure this way. Will ye tell me, ministers? Will ye tell me, professors, what shall I do! For I cannot live without Him and His company at this rate; for every day is a week, and every week is a month, and every month is a year since I lost sight of my Well-Beloved."
Now, that which we particularly intend from the words is this,
That Jesus Christ is the object of the Church's and the believer's love. Indeed, He is best worthy of it.
There are some folk that have no love at all, and they have little or no hatred either. There are some that have some love, but it is misplaced. Indeed it is ill-bestowed love that is not bestowed on Jesus Christ Himself. David bestowed his love well when He said, "Whom have I in the heavens but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." Now says the spouse, "Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?" It is not a mouth or lip love. No, it is a soul's love, and there are many who want that. Sirs, many ministers' and professors' love is not like this. I trow, many make no love of it. They think there is no need of professing their love this way. But I will tell you the believer's love to Christ is a sure love. It will not be love in the mouth only, but in the innermost parts of the soul. The chief place of the soul is kept for Christ, and if Christ be away it is kept empty. The psalmist says, "When my foot was like to slip away my soul trusted in God. I will put my confidence in him." Many folk put their confidence in themselves, or in some other thing. They take other things in His room when God deserts them, before He comes back again. But woe to that soul that takes other lovers in His absence, if ever He return back again. King Saul once thought he had God in him, but the Lord left him, and he let other things come into his soul, and so came of it in the end of the day.
Now I say, the Lord Jesus Christ is the object of the believer's love, and that under the consideration of these two things following:
I. I say, let us consider what He is in these three respects:1. What is His birth? Ye know if a man come to make suit to a woman, she will be sure to enquire what parents he is descended from. And is there any like our Lord? He is descended of honourable parentage, He is the Son of the Father. He is the Son of God, and as He is man He is the Son of David. This is a wonderful thing that the Son of God should offer marriage to the meanest man or woman in all the land. Ye would think it much if the king having one lawfully begotten Son, should send him to you, and should desire marriage with a mean girl, who had scarcely as much as to cover her nakedness. But oh wonderful! He has sent His only begotten Son, who is God equal with HimselfHe has sent Him down from heaven to earth, to treat for marriage with the poorest believer that is therein.
- We shall consider what He is in Himself.
- Let us consider what He has done for believers, and what He has done for the Church in general.
2. Consider what He hath. He is heir of all things. All power in heaven and earth is given unto Him. Such is the believer's Beloved. It is He that has much power, ruling over heaven, earth, and hell, and the absolute disposal of all things. He hath grace and glory, and every good thing to give unto them that wait upon Him. Is it any wonder then that the spouse says, "Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?" She could not endure the want of Him when He absented Himself. But indeed many, because they cannot get the present things, think little of Christ. Yea ye will say, "If a man be faithful and honest, he has nothing left him in the earth, he is brought to much misery in following of Christ; if a man be honest, he may expect the loss of all." Therefore ye think Christ is not a good Master, or a good Husband; since His followers are so ill treated upon the earth. But I will tell you, nay I assure you, that the believer has as good a right to the world as any other hath, and the man that is cast out of house and hold for Christ has as good a right to it as any has; and ere all be done and the work ended, it shall surely be seen that the believer who has his heart filled with the love of Christ, has the surest grip of these things of any. Oh then, saw ye Him whom my soul loveth in this night of persecution upon the Churchwhen the Lord's people are meeting with such bitter things, even those who are waiting upon the Lord, and giving Him credit? Such however shall have much more than persecutors have, notwithstanding the sad things they have met with. Yea, ministers and professors, though ye had not twopence to rub upon one another, ye have more than all the persecutors haveye have Himself, and that is more than all other things.
3. Let us consider what He is, as to His person. Ye know when a young man makes suit to a young woman, she not only asks what is his birth and what he hath, but has some desire to know what he is in himself. Is he a well-favoured man? So the spouse goes to the watchmen, and to the daughters of Jerusalem, that is, to the bulk of professors, and says, "I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, that if ye find my well beloved, ye tell him, that I am sick of love." She cannot want him any longer. It is likely she was at the private meetings with others here; and when they were met together, she prays them if they saw him, that they would tell him her case; but I trow, the greatest part of believers are seldom giving employment of this kind. Well, says she, "I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, to tell him that I am sick of love." But say they, "What is thy beloved more than another beloved? that thou makest so much noise about him." There are many now that say, "What do folk mean to make so much ado about Christ?" They will not go here, or there; nor take the preaching that other folk take and satisfy themselves with. They will be above the religion that others satisfy themselves with. "Indeed," says she, "my beloved is white and ruddy; fairer than the sons of men, and the chiefest of ten thousand." And indeed so He is, and ever will be to any who know the power of religion. He will be unto them the pearl of great price, He has been so to many of the Church of Scotland. Indeed He has been refreshing unto them every way; and He fills the desires of the hungry and longing soul; and to conclude all, "His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
II. The second thing to be considered is: What He has done for the Church and for believers. And we shall go through some things that He has done for the Church in general, and for believers in particular; for indeed He has done and suffered very much for them. And ye know what will commend one man's love very much to another, and that is, if he has done great things for him. Well, our Lord has been at much pains, and cost both, for believers. I assure you, it is much our commendation to love Him. Nay, it is much our duty to love Him who first loved us, when we could give Him no love back again.
1. I tell you what He has done for us: He has taken upon Him our nature. This is a very common thing that ye have heard very often of, but it is soon forgotten, by some at least, and little thought of. He took upon Him our nature. He took not upon Him the nature of angels, but the nature of poor ruined man. Oh, this is a heart-engaging consideration ! Many think nothing of this, that Christ left His place in heaven, came from the Father's bosom, and took upon Him our nature. But is not that a great wonder? The Eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the glorious Trinity, came down here upon earth, and took upon Him the nature of the seed of Abraham? O wonderful condescension! Many think nothing of this, but I will tell you poor sinners could never otherwise have gone up to heaven to Him. No; for if He had appeared like Himself, the Second Person of the ever-blessed Trinity, if He had appeared in His regal robes of glory and majesty, we could not have looked near Him. Ye know when the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai and gave the law, all Israel cried unto Moses, "Let not the Lord speak any more to us, after this manner; but go and hear the Lord speak; and speak thou unto us." Herein is the Lord's wonderful condescension displayed, that He took on Him our nature, and became bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. And should not this engage us to love Him very much? And
2. Let us consider, that He not only took on Him our nature, but He took on Him the form of a servant. He came not only like man, but like a mean man. Indeed, had He come like a rich or great man, poor folk would not have got leave to come near Him not so much as to touch the hem of His garment. But our Lord has His own way of coming. He comes like a poor mean man into the world, and He goes ofttimes to poor men's houses. It is true He went sometimes into the rich men's houses when they were to get good of Him. Zaccheus had great riches. Christ came to his house, and said, "This day is salvation come to thine house." But then Zaccheus cast away his ill-gotten gain. So I say our Lord Christ comes in the form of a servant; and seeing He came in such a poor mean way, should not this make us look unto Him? Great men should not despise poor folk, though there were a great difference between them. Indeed, the great men will talk of great things, but they are no more in Christ's sight than the poorest beggar that goes on the ground. But
3. I will tell you further what He has done. He has taken upon Him all our infirmities and our diseases. "He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He was tempted in all things like unto us, that he might be able to succour them that are tempted." Here there may be some that are hungry, thirsty, and cold, as so it was with some when put to these straits after the affair at Pentland. Although it has not been just so with those who have been at Bothwell, at Pentland they were like to perish in woods, mosses, &c. They were both cold, hungry, and thirsty. Ye know what persecutions they suffered by enemies. But may not this be matter of comfort to all sufferers in affliction: "We have not an high priest that cannot be touched with our infirmities," but One who was exercised with sad afflictions, and suffered, and was persecuted in His body, in our nature, and therefore knows well how to support and succour His people in all their afflictions? And should not this engage us to love Him, and to desire conformity unto Him? For indeed He knows well how to see to us, and how to comfort us under all cases and conditions.
4. I tell you further yet, what He has done for us. He bore the wrath of God for believers, for all that come to God in and through Him. This is a strong engagement unto all the people of God to love with their whole heart and soul Him that has borne that wrath that would have crushed all the elect, yea, all the world, and kept them in the place of torment for ever and ever. He bore that wrath that made Him sweat great drops of blood, and cry out, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." What shall I say? He was so deserted of God as made Him cry out upon the cross, "Eli, Eli, lama sabbachthani, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" I think the person that has soul's love to Christ has good reason and may well bear the wrath of man: for that wrath is far inferior to the wrath that Christ hath borne for His people. Oh, how this ought to endear Christ unto us!
5. I will tell you what Christ has also done for believers. Take heed, Sirs; He has even died for them, even that cursed death of the cross. Hence He has taken away the sting of natural death, and He will keep us from eternal death if we believe in Him; for while "we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly."
6. He not only died for us, but went down and perfumed the grave for believers, so that they may say, "O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory?" But take heed, Sirs, now. For, I think, if ye be believers ye will have love unto Him on this account. Those who have gone to a scaffold for Christ have done it cheerfully; so that their dying day has been the best day that ever they saw in their life, yea, they have been so joyful that their souls have been made, as it were, leap out of their bodies, because our Lord has gone through death and the grave for them; therefore they have the victory and have overcome death and the grave: which leads us
7. Unto this that He hath done for believers, and that is, He rose again and overcame death. But oh, how few are buried with Him in baptism, and have mortified every sin and corruption arising within them, that they may partake of His resurrection unto eternal life and salvation.
Lastly, I will tell you what Christ doth to endear Himself unto us. He intercedes always at the Father's right hand for you if ye be believers. Christ's praying respects every believer in the Church of Scotland. He prays even for ministers and professors, that have in a great measure given over their prayers for Him and His cause; and hence He "is able to save all that come unto Him; because He ever lives to make intercession for us." I say, consider these things, and you will think it no wonder that the believer loves Him above any other object whatever. No wonder that the spouse makes such ado, saying, "Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth?" But there are many folk that will not love Christ for as much as they talk of Him. Many folk do not know Him, and therefore they cannot love Him. Although many folk have a little love unto Him, yet they love other things better than Him, they do not love Him indeed. And though they may have some sort of love to Him, yet they dare not say, "Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, and where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon." Now, many unto whom Christ manifests Himself dare not say that their souls love Him.
(1.) There are some that because they get not such and such manifestations of Him, never love Him, nor think that He loves them. Indeed those whom our Lord bears in Himself upon, so to speak, with life and power, do love Him and that very much. "They are sick of love; they are made to sit under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit is sweet unto their taste. Stay me," says the spouse, "with flagons; comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love." Oh, if ye knew what the people of God have met with on preaching days, fast days, communion-days, and in fervent and secret duties; how they have found Him letting out so much of Himself unto their souls, whereby they have been made to go out much in love to Him! I find that many times there has been love to Christ, and that by meeting with Him in ordinances, they have been made therein to have more love to Him; as you may see in Psalm 73.2. "But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." Yea the psalmist was at this with it; "Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency." He was at that with it; "Verily all my religion hath been in vain. All the duties I have set about in prayer, and going to ordinances, have been to no purpose. What the better have I been for all these than the rest of the world?" But when he began to ruminate upon this, he says, "It was too painful for me, until I went unto the sanctuary of God." "Then understood I their end, and that thou hadst set them on slippery places, and that notwithstanding all their prosperity, they were but poor creatures." Then he comes to say; "Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee?" So when the Lord speaks to the case of the deserted believer in a sensible manner, then he cannot but love Christ; and that to a very high degree.
(2.) The person that can say "He heard the voice of my prayers," cannot but say he loves Him. "I love the Lord because he heard my voice and my supplication." He loves Him so well that his soul is bound to love Him. "I love the Lord because He heard my voice." Oh, but the Lord's hearing a soul, when it begins to pray, may engage that soul to love Him much! What wonder is it that that soul loves Him well that is heard of Him? Those whom the Lord loves and admits unto fellowship and communion with Him, when He hears and answers their prayers, should say "I love the Lord." And
(3.) Those to whom the Lord intimates the forgiveness of their sins may love Him very much. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgiveth all thine iniquities." I assure you that the person who can truly say that He hath not only forgiven all his iniquities, but that He hath also admitted him into fellowship with Himself, and engaged his soul to rejoice in Him, will say that his soul cannot love Him as it would or ought. But I know that there are many now that cannot take up a soul by these marks that we have spoken of. I assure you that I would have you once wounded; for this is not a time to heal. But we shall give you some marks of those who have this love in exercise, and as we run over them we shall give you some doctrinal uses with them. We shall mention six or seven marks, as the Lord shall permit, help and enable us. And
1. These who love Christ will be much thinking of Him. For ye know that if there is a person or object that one loves much he will not readily let that person or object long out of his mind. Ye know it is said "Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord;" and David says, "On His law do I meditate day and night." Now the person that loves Him will be thinking much upon Him, and will be still labouring to get much love unto Him. Indeed I know some men in the world that think not much of Him, nor of what He hath done. But they deceive and cheat themselves. Oh, labour to think much of Him, and to get more love to Him! Indeed there are some persons that the more they are loved, the less they care for those who love them. But it is not so with Christ. Oh, how few are they that hate vain thoughts, but love the law of the Lord! How few are they that hate vain thoughts but rather entertain them. But do not entertain vain thoughts of God, of Christ, and of what He hath done, and what an excellent one He is. I trow many of you have your thoughts running out after other things, but have seldom a thought of Christ. All this says that there is little love to Him. Ye know the wife loves her husband although he be away from her. The spouse loves Christ though He be for the present absent from her. Her love to Him still rises up, leading her to ask, "Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth?"
2. Those who love Christ will speak much of Him. But alas! there are many folk among whom there is not one word of Christ to be heard. I tell you, there is much talk about religion and religious matters, but little talk of Christmuch talk of other men's faults and failings. Alas! that we should have so many of these to talk of! But, believer, ye should not spend your time so much in this. When ye are met together, let not your discourses about the indulgence, &c., justle out your speaking of Christ and love to Him. Let not the esteem of His worth and excellency go down amongst you. But I trow ye may be long amongst professors before ye hear much talk of this kind. Oh, sad, sad, that the defections of the time should be the only talk of professors, and anent malignants and others! Indeed there are many who, if they be met together in company, and if one ask them a question about this, will just look down, and if they can they will bring in another discourse to put it out of head and heart. But when anyone states a discourse about the divisions of the time, if they get once on their foot, they will be sure it shall not fail upon their side. But I am sure the man that hath ever met with Christ, and that ever hath closed with Him, and hath any sense of it upon His soul, cannot be long in company without high and honourable thoughts of Him. If he wants Him he will pursue after Him, especially if he has love in exercise; he will be longing for Him. But alas! religion is like to wear out in these our days.
3. Those that have love to Christ will do what they can to bring in others to Him. Ye find the spouse says here, "Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?" But what follows? "I held him and would not let him go." And then she says, "Go forth, O daughters of Jerusalem, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart." She had met with Christ herself, and she had much love to Him, and therefore she invites her companions to go forth after Him, to go out from a lost world, and behold Him with the crown upon His head. Oh, then take a view of our Lord Christ with the crown upon His head wherewith His mother crowned Him. Indeed there are not a few ministers and professors who think not a little of themselves, and there are almost none now, but such as are saying, "Go not out and behold him." We heard how it was carried in our late meetings. They, it seems, discharged persons from going forth after Him. I trow, there are many professors up and down the country that have cast off that which God hath commanded in His word. Many have espoused this way, but away with those folk! Be what they will, it were better for us if we were rid of those that bid us quit the good old way for which our ancestors lost so much before they would quit it. They parted with relations, estates, and all things for it. But there are many folk that cry, "Away with Christ and His ordinances both!" In such a way would they have us cast off even the most pure and lively ordinances. But now says the spouse, "Go forth, and behold the king." So I would have you go forth that ye may obtain salvation unto your souls from Christ. This is no cruel advice. Love Christ, and get salvation from Him, though ye should lose all ye have in the present world.
4. Those who have true love to Christ will be loth to offend Him. Hence they will have an abhorrence of all sin. "I love thy commandments above gold; I hate every false way." These two always go hand in hand. As for the man that says he hath love to Christ, and yet hates not every false way, away with his love! Alas! ye may see there is little love to Christ in Scotland. Iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold. I would say, the man that pays the cess hath little love to Christat least his love is not in exercise, or is "key cold," as we use to say. Doing so, ye give it under your hand that ye comply with that party.
5. Those who have taken the indulgences first or last; those who have complied with themlet them be godly men, or be what they willin this case they have not love to Christ in exercise. I am sure, whatever they are or have been, their being under these ashes is no good mark; for if they had this love in exercise they durst not for their souls do as they have done, for wherever the exercise of this love is, persons will be loth to offend Christ. They will be afraid that He may stand at a distance from His ordinances. David says, "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?" I will tell you, I do not like those who are familiar with the stated and avowed enemies of our Lord and Master Christ, and are fond of favour from them. Away with such! Whatever they have been, they have not their love in present exercise. Whatever they have been before, this says to the world that their love is now gone. And when it is recovered again, such conduct will be grieving to them. Indeed the want of love to Christ portends a sad case. Therefore, beware, all of you, of being cheated and drawn out of God's way. Beware of being too familiar with those who are clothed with the royal prerogative of Jesus Christ to the prejudice of religion. Do not beguile yourselves. "Do not I hate them that hate thee, O Lord?" But ye may say, "Should we not love our enemies?" True; we should love our enemies, but as they are the stated enemies of Christ, and going on in a state of enmity and defection from Him, they are more than our enemies. They are enemies to Christ, and going on in persecuting God's cause, enemies to the gospel, and to a covenanted work of reformation. In this view we should hate and abhor them. We declare against them, and all that comply with them, and all that stand upon their side. A sad day awaits them. They are worse than they of Laodicea, who were neither cold nor hot, whom on this account Christ threatens to "spue out of his mouth." What better are those ministers who have accepted of the indulgence than curates, or even Papists? I assure you the curate hath more the form of a church officer than they, for they have not the form of a church officer at all, and so are not Christ's ministers. Nay, they are the king's ministers. They were once ministers, and as such we did acknowledge them; but now they are the king's and the councilors' ministers. They hold of them and receive their liberty from them. They have done more hurt to the work of reformation by their compliances than all other open and avowed enemies. Therefore, I say, do not deceive yourselves in this respect; for we and they are two parties now.
6. Those that love Christ have a great respect to all His commands. They have a great respect to His tabernacles. "How love I thy dwelling place! How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts!" We would not desire you to cast at ministers who labour to keep the ordinances of Christ pure and entire. If they would make it appear that they have love to Christ, and if this were really the case they would have as tender a respect to Him as ever they had, and hate every wicked way, and they would love the saintsthose excellent ones in whom is all His delight. There is little love to Christ where there is so little love and sympathy for one another. And
Lastly, Those who have love to Christ will ever be ready to lose and quit all other things for Him. Says Christ Himself, "He that loveth anything better than me is not worthy of me." They are not for Christ. They prefer other things to Him, when it comes to this that they must quit the one or the other. But ye must quit all and buy that pearl of great price. They who do so shall be no losers, for they shall have "an hundredfold in this life, and life everlasting in the world to come." I assure you, if ye had love to Christ, ye would think it much to get an opportunity to give Him a proof of it. You would even thank God for this opportunity, and say, "Although I should lose all, yet I have got an opportunity of giving a proof of my love to Him in this evil time." And it is the best time that ever many saw, for they have had an opportunity to give a proof of their love unto this excellent Prince and ever-lovely One.
Now I shall only add these two things by way of exhortation:1. If ye would have love to Christ, see that you keep your sins ever before you. The reason is: where there is always a conviction and sense of guilt upon your hazard, and one sees the hazard he is in by his sins, there is a care to run unto Him, and to make use of that blood "that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel." Ye would in this case have recourse to that fountain that is opened to the house of David and inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. Be always thinking upon the wrath due to us for sin. I assure you, those who keep their hearts most under the sense of their sins will have much love to Christ. The want of this is one reason that so many have so little love to Him, and so much love to other things. For if ye had a true sense of sin, wrath and judgment, ye would have much love to Christ, and He would be above all in your hearts, and ye would exalt Him in your souls; for it is through faith in Him that we stand and rejoice in tribulations, as the apostle expresses it. And the apostle was sensible of this. It is in Christ that we have the hope of the glory of God, and not only so, "But we rejoice in tribulationalso, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed." How so? "Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
Lastly, Be much in the grace of repentance. Be much in prayer, and much in the exercises of true love to Christ in an evil time, when the Lord is calling forth unto this exercise in all these duties. But above all, I exhort and obtest you to be much in love. Have "the love of God shed abroad in your hearts." Fix upon Jesus Christ by faith. Study to be much in love to Him, for He is an able Saviour to bring about salvation to the Church in the saddest case she can be in.
1. This seems to refer to the break of Bothwell, which was June 22, 1670.