TIMES OF PERSECUTION IN SCOTLAND,
SUFFERERS FOR THE ROYAL PREROGATIVES OF JESUS CHRIST.
Sermons & Lectures by Donald Cargill.
"Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For behold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain."Isaiah 26.20,21.THERE are few, yea, none in safety who are in debt. We wonder how men in debt can be secure. We cannot tell when God will come upon us; but it is man's great advantage to be near God. This is greater than all other advantages. The greatest, yea, the best of blessings are included in it. There are some things, nay, many things that are worse than nothing, and these are evil things; but the being near God hath many unspeakable advantages, and even as to temporal things it goes as high as a mortified soul can desire. But we know that all are not godly; all have not equal advantages. There are some who are children, some who are enemies, and some who are strangers. But there are chambers of safety for the children. What is then for strangers and enemies? Nothing but the wrath of God. What are strangers and enemies like? They are like two rivers that are running far asunder but at length they run both into the ocean, and then they are both one when they come to the ocean or sea of God's wrath. But for children there are chambers, and there is indignation for strangers and enemies to God.
Well then, we see there is a storm coming; and the Lord shows us the tender care He takes of His people, by warning them beforehand to get themselves into their chambers. "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers." We shall say this, that there is much tenderness in God if there were faith in us. Doubtless, it is a great and unspeakable disadvantage to us that we are not exercising more faith in God, especially when we are urged to it upon His account. There is nothing can or will answer His call but faith. God calls none to enter into these chambers but such as have faith. What will put a soul into these chambers? Nothing but faith. Then we may say this of it, that, in effect, faith both opens and shuts the doors. It opens the doors for us to enter in, and it shuts the doors behind us when we are entered into these chambers. Hence, if there be no faith there is no soul can enter in, and there is no soul can be in safety but within these chambers, and there are none can enter in but those who do it by faith.
But there are three things that especially hinder us in the exercise of faith:1. The want of an interest in God.1st, They that want an interest in God have nothing to trust unto, and so want acquaintance with and nearness to Him. Some children do not or cannot trust unto their charter, which is in effect a trusting and entering into these chambers. Now, where the want of an interest is there will be great discouragement. Ye cannot commit yourselves to God, for what else have ye, if ye want a relation to and acquaintance with Him. But there are few folk that have that charter, and those who want it have nothing to do with that which I am now speaking of. But
2. The want of conscientiousness of integrity.
3. The want of assurance as to the goodness of the cause.
2ndly, The conscientiousness of one's integrity helps much in the exercise of faith. When a soul is conscientious of its integrity, though with much infirmity, he can say, "Though I be sometimes overcome with temptations to sin, yet my endeavour is to wrestle and strive against sin." And
3rdly, There is the goodness of the cause: even the assurance of the goodness of one's cause helps the soul to the exercise of faith in a storm or time of trouble. In effect, the exercise of faith is just a thrusting one's self in at the doors of these chambers where there is safety. But there are two things here in these words now read in your hearing:
1. A manifestation of the present purposes of God. There is a manifestation of it now where God is, as it were, coming from His place to hold a Circuit. Now God is, as it were, leaving heaven, and coming down to the earth to hold a Court. Neither angels, nor prophets, nor apostles are to be judges. We see there are many wrongs done, and many pleas betwixt man and man. The great Judge must sit, and these causes must be decided. And woe unto you who have a sentence truly and justly given in against you! For He will sit a Judge, and ye shall have sin, devils, your own consciences, and the justice of God to accuse you. All these will accuse you, and tell what things you have done or committed. Oh, there are many wrongs done; many pleas, and many faults amongst us! I say the Master will hold a Court. The panels will be there. The agent and the bloody weeds will be there, and there are many bloody weeds amongst us.
Now the Master of Scotland must come, and keep a Court in Scotland. He will not only go through Scotland, but He will go through other nations also. "For behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity." Indeed, we will say this, the world is now become, as it were, mad and wild; therefore there is a necessity for the Lord to come and hold a Court against them. I say, we see how little justice and how great cruelty is in the courts of men; therefore God's justice must hold a Court because of man's injustice. There are many unjust courts held, and it is for that He must hold His Court. Woe will be then to them that are found in their injustice and iniquity! for God is coming not only to judge for every oppression and bloodshed, but also for every hidden iniquity in the heart. The Judge is coming to judge, and it is for all iniquity. It is a wonder that men will not believe this. It will be found that many are sleeping in their sins and living quietly in their iniquity, and are not striving against it. Many indeed have been robbed of their chastity, but there are others who have slept with their iniquities.
But the Judge knows what striving there has been against temptations, and how few have been chaste.
Now what will be next? All will compear. The agent will compear. The witness will compear. The bloody weeds will compear. The earth that received the saints blood will compear. The earth that received such a man's blood will then be opened up; "For the earth shall disclose her blood, and no more cover her slain." It will no more keep the blood on scaffolds, the blood on seas, the blood on the fields, the blood in houses. Many have been killed secretly. Now all has been silent. Now, says the earth, "We will no more be silent." I say, the time is approaching that the righteous Judge will sit. God will sit Judge, and there will be an open proclamation, and all will be summoned before Him who are to be judged. Then the earth will no more cover her slain. It has covered them for some time, but it will no more cover them.
This is the first thing; and it is a manifest token of what God is about to do. He will come shortly and hold a Court, and blood will be the great article of the indictment. I say, the blood of enemies will be the great article of the indictment. "The earth shall disclose her blood, and no more cover her slain."
2. There is an advice given to God's people, and what is that? It is
(1.) That God's people should get out of the way of danger. "Come, my people." Oh, but God is tender of His people's safety! But, alas! there are few of them so tender of it themselves as to hear God speaking kindly unto them, to make haste into their chambers. There are chambers for you. Oh, then, like doves, fly in at your windows. Well, then, I say, this is counsel unto them. This is His command. We see some great work God has to do, and He would have His people providing for it. He commands you to lay by all other things, and to labour to get a place of refuge near God; for He has a great work to do and He would have you providing against an approaching storm. Labour to get a secret hiding-place, a place of retirement from all danger.
(2.) "Enter into your chambers," says He. Well, there is a warning. What more? "Shut thy doors about thee." Make all fast. Make sure both before and behind thee, and leave no open doors; for justice will make a wonderful narrow search, and will pry into the least cleft or recess, and therefore make sure.
(3.) "Hide thyself." It is good for us. It is our advantage to be there until the wrath be over"till the indignation be overpast"and we are never to come out from thence. Oh, thrice happy they that shall never come out of these chambers! We are sure, we are persuaded, it shall ever be well with them, who are once entered into these chambers of safety. But as we cannot speak particularly unto these words here, we shall hint at these two things following:
(1.) The tender care of God to His people, and especially when they are reduced to straits. I say, they are always made to know His kindness in a time of trouble or difficulty. We shall say somewhat concerning this. In effect we say that the best of believers are not able to abide much dandling. It is well known that folk cannot carry much under these things; for they cannot bear much without becoming proud and self-conceited. I say, they are not able to bear much of the manifestations of God's kindness towards them. But we are sure of this one thing, that in a difficult time they meet with the best of dispensationsI say, for the most part, the best dispensations are reserved for the most hard and difficult times. Now, we are sure of this, that when He sees you hardest put to it, then He will verify this, for when ye come before men, and cannot get your Bible, then be sure God will evidence His kindness unto you; He will not then conceal it.
(2.) But this is not the thing we would speak to; but the thing is this; that there are chambers of safety for God's people in a time of indignation. Now seek them out; for there are chambers of safety provided for God's people and children in a time of wrath and indignation.
Now wherefore are they called chambers? They are called chambers upon these accounts:
1. They are chambers for presence and delight.
2. For strength, protection, and defence. In a word, for delight, these chambers are a palace; and for strength, protection, and defence, they are castles, so that they are chambers of safety and pleasure too. They are God Himself who is all in all to the believer. We may say this of them: they are a palace of defence from the wrath of God, for it never pursues a man within these chambers. They are places of delight, safety, security, and strength. It is no wonder, then, that a soul desires to be near God, and within these chambers; for there they have all their soul can desire. There is nothing can fright or terrify the soul of a believer, when he is once entered into these chambers: for they are for "a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest." Safety, pleasure and delight are to be found in them. O happy soul that shall be delighted with them! He is not to be pitied, indeed; there is nothing to wrong him when a storm of wrath is without upon the world.
But here it may be thought or asked, What is signified by these chambers? It is the soul committing itself unto God in His providence; the providence of God shall provide chambers for you. O Sirs, strive to get within these chambers of God's providences; for we are all likely to meet with a storm. Oh, but there are few who commit themselves to God! and it is a wonder the enemy gets not more folk. When some come amongst their hands, we see what comes of them. We are sure of this, that there is over little committing ourselves to God. When they are overtaken with temptations, they think their own wit or wisdom will do their turn; but indeed it will not do. Hence so many yield unto the enemy. They are not betaking themselves unto their chambers and their heart fails them, and they forget to flee into them. Oh, but folk have need to be within these chambers now, when they cannot go out nor come in, lie down nor rise up, without hazard! Labour then to be within these chambers. "Come, my people, enter into thy chambers, and shut the doors about thee."
The next thing that we thought principally to speak to is, that the safety of man lies in the mercy of God. Man's safety in a time of indignation lies in God's mercy, and your duty is to betake yourselves to it. Thus you will be in the chambers of defence. A soul must betake itself to the mercy of God, and so must be in the exercise of the duty here required, if it would put itself into these chambers. But when we speak of God's mercy and our exercise of betaking ourselves to it, we do not mean that these two have an equal hand in this. No, the mercy of God is still before duty, for it is the love and mercy of God that stir up a man unto duty. Then the Lord must both do His own part, and stir us up, and enable us to do our part too. It is the mercy of God, properly, that does the whole work; and though He puts us upon doing, yet we must do all in His strength.
Now, there is a great part of the work in the mercy of God, and a part of it in the soul. In effect, it is God's mercy when He does it alone, and it is His mercy when He does it with us. But we may speak a word of this, What way does mercy do it? The Lord does it Himself in these three things:
1st, In giving us warning of the danger before it come. Oh, but we have all need of much warning from God to flee out of the way of His wrath! There are some souls so wise that they will never lie, so to speak, a night in wrath's way. Oh, he is a happy man who hath his soul hid! Oh, it is great wisdom to be out of the way of wrath! This is the case with persons when they are lying within these walls, and their "defence is the munition of rocks." O happy soul who is lying nightly there, and cannot think to be one moment out of such a safety and such a life. Sometimes they delight to draw sweetness from Him: either by one favour or by another they must hold Him, as it were, in their bosom, and with the spouse, "lying all night between their breasts." I say, He gives them warning, and much warning have we gotten, but it is little taken notice of. Oh, but this is a happy soul that takes the alarm as God gives it! He summons and alarms us; He assures us that wrath is approaching, but alas that these alarms make so little impression upon us! They are lost to many of us. Woe unto us that we have improved them no better! God has warned us sooner and later, but it hath had little or no effect if it has not made us more secure. Have ye been speaking to God? Have ye told Him what ye are like to meet with from enemies, and how ye have been admitted unto His bosom?
2ndly, As He gives seasonable warning what is to come, so He makes some take warning and believe, while to others it seems but idle tales or dreams. Well, we know not if ye have taken heed to it, or if God's warnings have sunk down into your hearts or not, but ye have been long burthened with these things. Well, we say, as God gives warning, so He makes us to take warning. If so, then it is the mercy of God that hath made some to believe when others have despaired. Now, then, you who believe and take warning, it is the mercy of God which determined you to it, and, as it were, gives you a new heart to do so. But, what is more, it makes you provide against the day of wrath. What believe ye? Ye believe He will make out His word of threatening. So I say there are no more believers than persons who provide against the wrath of God. And, oh, he is a happy man who, when he comes before the tribunal of God, hath his acquaintance made with his Judge, and has got near unto God! I say he is a happy man who hath got his peace made with God, and whose Judge is his friend. Then have ye got all made surethe acquaintance made and the defence provided?
3rdly, There is another thing. The mercy of God goes yet farther, as it gives warning, and makes us believe it, so it also provides the chambers for us. His people have no more to do but to flee "unto these chambers and hide themselves from wrath." The Lord will never rise to exercise them with judgment till chambers be provided, and then the people of God need not fear; for chambers are provided for all that will flee unto them. But, in effect, we will say that in the day of your straits a process will be made, and you will be asked, "What do ye amongst the enemies of God?" What! will ye die amongst God's enemies? Alas! for ye are to be seen complying amongst the rest of God's enemies against Him, and if persons do so they have no reason to look for these chambers of protection from Him.
Now, there are these three things that the people of God must do. If they would have His assistance in their duty, they must all supplicate Him for help to do these things:1st, There is an entering in unto these chambers.1. There must be an entering in, as we have said before. This is a committing ourselves to God, and a covenanting with Him by faith. So ye see faith must go before an actual covenanting with God. Then ye must commit and resign yourselves over to Him, in time, that ye shall no more go back to the entanglements of the world. But, alas! there are few or none in the land who are afraid either for the devil, or the severity of justice.
2ndly, There is a shutting of the doors. And
3rdly, There is a hiding.
2. "Shut the doors about thee." What is that? Why it is to make all sure behind you. Wrath will pursue you, and, if ye be over long a-fleeing unto those chambers, wrath will overtake you. Many have but loose grips and have not made all sure behind them, and the wrath of God will let them see that they have neither shut doors nor windows behind them; and where there has been nothing of this done there are open doers, and wrath will enter. But we are sure that the wrath of God will never come at any person who has once got into these chambers, and has got the doors shut behind him. Well, then, shut the doors, and make all sure behind you by a covenant engagement; and do all you can for it. If you do not, a black and gloomy reckoning awaits you. But justice will try you strictly; if ye leave but a window unshut He will find you. Therefore make all sure in time.
3. And lastly, "Hide thyself, as it were, for a little moment." Hide yourselves. Enter in. Hiding and entering in make all one thing. This makes all sure with God. Where will you hide yourselves? In Him; for there is no other hiding place than in Him. "A man shall be a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of waters in a dry place, and as a shadow of a great rock in a weary land." [Isa. 32.2.] We shall add: they are chambers of defence, and well they are furnished. We would lay it at your door, that ye would be serious for yourselves and make all sure. Shut the doors behind you, and God will never bid you go out again. Rest you there till the dove come to the ark with the olive leaf in her mouth.