Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.—Habakkuk 2.4.

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A Sermon of

MR WILLIAM GUTHREY.

Hoſea XIII. Ver. IX.

O Iſrael, thou hast deſtroyed thy ſelf,

but in me is thy help.

THough Iſraels name ſpeak out his glorious advancement and privilege beyond all other parties in the world, yet Iſrael may come to be in a very low condition, even to be destroyed in all appearance, and cut off, as to their parts. O Iſrael thou destroyed thyself. It is true, the Lord hath a sovereign hand in the low condition of his people, and it is true also, that Israel's enemies have a great hand in their low condition, for which they will get no thanks from God, but it is as true that Israel hath a principal hand in this his low condition, he himself procuring his own overthrow. O Israel thou hast destroyed thy self. 'tis the iniquity of his people that separates betwixt him and them. Isaiah 59.2. Behold the Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save, neither is his ear heavy, that it cannot hear, but your iniquity hath separated betwixt you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. And though many in Israel are now and then taking with this, that they by their sinning have a principal hand in {2} their own overthrow and destruction: yet a thorough, real, and right conviction of this is not soon fastened on Israel.  The Lord many times in this prophecy hath told them that their destruction was of themselves, and he hath used several arguments to bear in the conviction hereof upon them in the preceeding part of this Chapter; and yet in the text he comes over it again, and leaves it of new at their door, as if he had said, I have often told you before, and have proven from the beginning of this chapter that ye have ruined and overthrown yourselves by your sin: But because ye are not throughly enough convinced of it, I tell you again of it: again consider of it, and lay it more seriously to heart.  O Iſrael, thou hast destroyed thyself. which says, that it is not easy to bind on the Lord's people a thorough, right, and real conviction that they have a main and chief hand by their sin in their own overthrow and destruction.

The Lord's people may be brought under strokes  1. To acknowledge that their Low condition and overthrow is from the Lord.  2. They may be brought to blame Adversaries, as being the instruments in God's hand of their trouble.  3. They may blame their own sin, as the cause of their ruin; But a thorough, real, and right conviction of this they are not easily brought unto, which hath these four qualifications.  1. It must be personal. Some will grant, that it is sin that hath ruined the Church of God, but will not let it light that it is their sin.  2. It must be particular, It is not only my sin, but it is this and that sin in me that hath done it.  3. It must be a pungent, wounding conviction of sin, as the cause of their ruin, a conviction which makes the heart sick, which is very rare.  Many will blame themselves, and particularly many sins they are guilty of, and will grant they have a hand in bringing much wo and wrack on the Land and on themselves, and yet will not be affected for all that.  4. It must be an abiding permanent conviction.  Many {3} who have obtained the former three, come short in this. Many have been so far convinced of sin, of their own sins, as having a great hand in all the wrath lying upon us, and have hung down their heads like a bulrush for a day, but these affections have not bidden, they have not carried that weight alongs with them, as a counterbalance to other things, till the Lord's wrath was turned away from themselves, and from the Land.

What are the marks of a thorough, real, and right conviction that we have destroyed ourselves, and have had a great hand in the destruction of Israel by our sin? Answer: They who are rightly convinced, they lay their hand upon their mouth; they are silent before the Lord, notwithstanding of all that he hath done, is doing, or may do to them and to the land; so far are they from complaining and repining for any thing that is come upon them. Psalm 39.9, I was dumb, and opened not my mouth, because thou O Lord did it. There was a man rightly convinced of sin.  As long as a person or people multiply complaints of heavy burdens and sad things on them, there is not a thorough, real, and right conviction fastened on their heart, for as soon as the conviction is thorough, they will be dumb, not opening their mouth. And Lam. 3.39, wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sin? will a rational man, if he be a man and not a beast, complain for any cross dispensation? he will not, for it is the Punishment of his sin, and he is punished less than his iniquities deserve.  2. They are busy in searching out the ways whereby they have brought destruction on themselves and the Church.  Lam. 3.40, Let us search and try our ways. Every man that is throughly, really, and rightly convinced, that he hath had a hand in the overthrow of the people of God, he will search and labour to find out what is the hand he hath had in it.  3. A right, real, and thorough conviction hath following {4} in it a sudden and hasty reformation of these evils, which have procured and drawn on that wrath.  And for me to say, that I have laid my sin to heart, as being convinced, that I have had a hand in this wrath that is on the Church and people of God, and can father it on this and that evil in myself, and yet I study not to remove it, it is but a fancy and not a real and thorough conviction. And though I would say, I am convinced, I but lie, for, would I hold a stroke on myself and others, if I judged it a stroke, and that my sins procured it, if by any means I could remove it?  This is also clear from Lam. 3.40, Let us turn again to the Lord, A thorough, real, and right conviction of sin, and of our ruin by sin, brings every man to seek to reform what is amiss.  4. It makes the person diligently plead at the throne of grace for mercy, reconciliation, and peace with God through a Mediator; speak of other things what ye will, that sticks most in the heart of a throughly convinced sinner.  Lam. 3.41, Let us lift up our hearts, with our hands, or in our hands to God in the heavens.  Speak to such a Sinner of a delivery, and of this and that promising mean and of an outgate, they signify not much to him without the peace and favour of God, moyen [standing, title] in heaven is that which most bulks in his eye.  5. They who are rightly convinced, when ever they hear or observe any new emergent, or declaration of God's wrath, or evidence that he is angry, they not only look upon sin, as procuring it, but much shame and confusion fills their face.  Alas! we but sport with terrible emergents of God's wrath and anger, while we tell them over as news, and never reflect upon ourselves, nor are ashamed, nor blush as procuring them.  If we were convinced, that we by our sin have a hand in harling [dragging] the people of God before these miserable, unhappy ensnaring Courts, is it possible but we would blush and be ashamed.  Ye would think it strange, if one {5} should come in and tell you, such a man is harled before the Commission Court, another is imprisoned or confined, and ye had a hand in it; but if ye were convinced, that it is right true, your hand was in it, would ye not be ashamed of it? Never think that ye are throughly, and rightly convinced, or that you really think your sin had a hand in such a thing, till you also think that ye have reason to be ashamed, and to take shame to yourself for every thing you hear of that Kind.  6. They that have such a conviction will not be fortified with every delivery or outgate, except the bond be taken off, and the Lord remove the quarrel and sin, that brought on the stroke. I question not but this may be a challenge to all the Lord's people, that they have been content of, and would have been at any outgate or delivery; but is that [what it is for] each one of us to resemble the children of a King, & such a King in our sufferings, who should say (and would say if rightly convinced) "no outgate, except God give repentance, take away sin, loose bands, and heal backslidings."  And I would ask you, have any of you this for your work and business, for which you plead at his throne? The rightly convinced soul says, "Lord, either deliver thy people from iniquity, or let them lie as they are; either loose our bonds, or no deliverance will content us;" for they know any outward delivery could signify little or nothing to them, except iniquity were removed, & their bonds loosed & backslidings healed, because otherwise there would be a new browſt [brewing] upon the back of it.[1]  7. They can put a blank in God's hand, to fill up what sufferings he pleaseth. It is not their care and fear what may be inflicted on them; they are resolute to suffer what ever he thinks good, and that patiently.  Micah 7.9, I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, I will justify the Lord, and sit silent, not only under what he hath done, but under what he shall do to {6} me, and will never ask a reason of his dealing, for I know he is holy and just, and can do me no wrong; and when it is so, then I take up my self destroying in the right hew, and am convinced I have a principal hand in it, and will say, righteousness belongeth unto God, but shame and Confusion of face to me. [Dan. 9.7.]  8. They have an high and eminent resentment of new discovered sin, whether in themselves or in others; and we will find some strange thoughts of resentment that this conviction hath driven some to in Scripture, as in that holy man, Ezra 9.3, who when he hears of the sin of the affinity of the people with strangers, he rends his mantle, and plucks out the hair of his head and beard; his heart fails him, and he falls down upon his face as dead; this is an high resentment, and an evidence of a thorough conviction.  And if such a conviction be, when ye hear tell that this or that man has slipped in a sin, to the bringing of more misery on the people of God, ye will also resent it sadly. Ye will also find another high resentment of new discovered sin in Phinehas, Num. 25: When he sees Zimry and Cozby in the act of uncleanness, he steps out of his station and strikes them both through the belly.  Alas! if there were zeal in us, flowing from a right conviction of sin, when we hear this man falls in this sin, and another in drunkenness, a third hath taken that wicked declaration, our hearts would rise in high resentments of the things; our hatred of them would be so irreconcilable, we could not digest them, or our hearts would fail us at the new discoveries of new sin and guilt; new sin would make us sit down astonished, and nothing would weaken our hope and make us despond but that alone.

Use 1. Be not easily satisfied with yourself, under any convictions for sin ye win at, under all this misery that is come upon the Church and People of God and upon yourselves. {7}

Use 2. Never rest till ye get a conviction qualified with that fourfold qualification:  1. Till your conviction be personal, that you bring home things to yourself, and be made to say, I am the man; God is angry at me, and I have procured this wrath to the Land, and to my self.  2. Rest not till ye come to Particulars, this and that which I have done, and am guilty of, is the cause of all this desolation, ruin, and overthrow; general confessions will not do it.  3. Rest not till your heart be kindly affected with the sins ye are convinced of; seek [that] the conviction may be pungent and wounding.  4. Let not your conviction be transient, but seek it may be an abiding conviction.  The wrath that is on us is no transient thing; it is like a cloud that is settled over us, and it is a sore matter, that our conviction should not be a settled and abiding conviction.

Use 3. Let me say, I fear upon trial, that by the marks that have been given, a thorough, real, and right conviction of sin be very rare, and there be few found, for all that's come and gone, that have laid this matter rightly to heart.  O Israel thou hast destroyed thy self. Do ye think that the Lord's people have been weeping these three or four years under a thorough conviction of their sin, and that the Lord regards not their tears? No surely, this is not it; we have not been humbled and weeping; and therefore, think it not strange, that it be with us as at this day.  The Lord's people meet and pray, and there is no answer returned, but one ill upon the back of another; and the profane are stumbled and hardened, when they see success doth follow their prayers, and they do prosper in their way. In this we are to clear the Lord and blame ourselves. I doubt nothing, but if from a thorough real conviction, that we have ruined ourselves by our sin, we have been humbling ourselves before God, we should either by this time {8} have had an outgate, or known better the outgate and mind of God concerning the continuance of our trial & outgate: or at least we should have had some token for good shewed unto us from the Lord. Oh! have we been silent before the Lord under our conviction, & put from our complaining? have we been busied in searching out our sins, whereby we have destroyed ourselves & others? have we made haste to reform these evils we found upon search? have we diligently pleaded at the throne of grace for pardon and peace with God, and the loosing of our bonds? have we upon every new declaration of wrath been ashamed, as having a deep hand in drawing it forth? would we be satisfied with no outgate, nor promising mean of delivery, except the Lord free us of the yoke of our transgressions; and heal our backslidings? have we been brought to put a blank in God's hand to afflict us as he pleaseth? have we in zeal highly resented new discovering of sin and wrath? No doubt there are many, who think there is no wrath upon Scotland, and that Israel is in a good case, and hath not destroyed himself.  But oh! are ye so blind? are ye not convinced that God hath profaned the Church and State of Scotland, that he hath loosed the girdle of our Nobles and hath made their authority vile and contemptible before the people? that all our precious things are taken captive by the Adversary; That our Interpreters, each of them one of a thousand, are some of them banished, others of them confined, and a godless profane pack put in their room? do ye not yet see, how the Land is ruined and destroyed, and the flocks of the Lord's people scattered? And are these things & many more no evidences of God's wrath? I would not wish to any man such a measure of wrath, as is on that man who thinks there is no wrath upon Scotland.  Again, Are there not many of you faint-hearted? Is not your spirit & courage, {9} and valiantness for the truth gone?  And is that no evidence of wrath? I doubt nothing, but it is a part of our plague, that we are as Ephraim, a silly dove without heart. [Hos. 7.11.] nor do I deny that a manifest breach of Covenant lies on us upon that account; but this is not all. Israel hath sinned, and therefore is his heart faint, and his hands feeble, and he fled from the pursuer.  Would ye know then, why the people of God are so faint hearted and weak? why Abner's hands were bound, and he died as a fool for sin, and want of a thorough, real, and right conviction for sin, and not turning to God? otherwise I nothing doubt, but they had been as bread to us this day; and one of us should have chased a thousand of them who now banish us, and harl us to prison.  There is no hope as to this thing, till once we be brought to know and be made sensible, we have destroyed ourselves.  And if we have a heart to believe this Text, and the great Truth contained in it, it is your sin hath ruined you, and separated betwixt God and you.  Why sit ye still looking one upon another? Arise, as it is said of Ezra, he arose and fell about the Confession of sin, and they entered into a Covenant to amend what was amiss.  So I would say to you, Sit not still discouraged, arise and fall to search and find out what is your part of the sin that hath brought on this wrath.  Make your conviction personal, particular, and pungent, every family apart, and their wives apart; set some time for the work, the finding out, and the confession of sin and repentance for it, and turning to God; and then if the Lord shall not bring about your delivery, you shall have ground of much peace, and ye shall have an easy task in your sufferings.  If we were once throughly convinced of sin, and if matters were as clear betwixt our God and us, as they are betwixt him and his enemies, I am confident the Lord would appear, and make bare his holy arm yet once more for his {10} people. [Isa. 52.10.]  O But matters are clear betwixt God and Adversaries; and if we could say here is one evidence that matters are clear betwixt God and us, and that we have heard the voice of the rod, and of him that hath appointed it, [Micah 6.9,] I nothing doubt, but ere long the Lord should do some great thing for us.  But I know it is but lost labour for the most part, for a Minister to give you a General Charge, and bid every one search his own way, and labour that his Conviction may be thorough, affecting, and humbling.  Many cannot be moved to it.  Ye will hear what we say, but will not do what we bid you; for many a time hath God by his Ministers bidden you search your ways since this work began; and I put it to your Conscience, if ye have set time apart for it.  And if ye say, though ye win not to much, yet it is the work ye are, and were about;  I fear, few of you can say this much; & who have it not to say, have an ill conscience, and scarcely can I think that ever they had this real, thorough, and right conviction, That they have a principal hand in destroying themselves and the land by their sin.  Others know not what to confess, nor how to further this work of conviction upon themselves.

Therefore it will be best to come a little to you in your relations and stations with this charge, and seeing it pleaseth the Lord now to speak to you, and ye know not how long, or whether he shall speak to you by us again;  I exhort you to take to heart the things that I am to charge upon you, and every one as he finds himself, set some time apart to mourn before God and to seek for pardon and peace.

The first sort I shall speak to, is to ourselves who are Ministers of the Gospel. We cannot deny but our hand hath been deep in the desolation and destruction that hath come upon the Lord's Israel, and though the Lord's people have had that much charity, as to clear us, yet {11} God forbid, that we clear our selves.  Many Pastors have destroyed the Lord's vineyard, through their transgressions and sins.  And while I am speaking to our own sins, who are the Lord's Ministers, let none think that we are laying open their wickedness to their contempt: I know no way like this to make them honourable, to search out their sin, and to be humbled for it before the Lord.

The first thing I charge on them is this, that we have had a carnal way in managing all his matters: we have taken our own prudential gate [way] of binding things on people, and have laid more weight on these than on the ordinances of God, and the Spirit's working and backing them, and that both in Doctrine, and in the exercise of Discipline; and our not laying weight on his ordinances as divine; and his Spirit's presence and blessing promised to make them effectual, hath made his work take small effect among our hands.

2. We have been more careful to stock ourselves with matter of our work, than to bring fresh influences out of heaven to make his work taking, beautiful, and glorious; and every word we spake had been more savoury and refreshful with the people, if we had dipped our hearts in heaven's influences; because we have not sought after this, but have only studied words, and to make up purpose, and have not laid the stress of our work upon the spirit, and on his divine influences, in the convey of these things we delivered, it hath made our work so much the more fruitless.

3. It hath been our sin, if we got our work off our hand with credit, and were born out in the delivery of our message to the people, we did not follow it with prayer, and seek after it. It hath not been so vexing to us after as before.  Why? because we cared more for our own credit, than for the people's profiting; a sin for {12} which the Lord hath judged us not fit to bear office in his house.

4. We may be charged with self-seeking and envying others, that were like to darken us; though we have seemed to be blyth [happy] to hear such a man commended, yet it hath stuck to our heart, and hath afterward vented itself in our censures, which tells, we never desired another to come our length, at least to outstrip us; so far have we been from that disposition to rejoice, if Christ were preached, and at the increasing of others, though we should decrease.  This amongst others hath helped to shut us out of our Ministry.

5. We may be charged with much worldly mindedness, we have not given ourselves wholly to these things of our Ministry. I do not say, that every one is alike guilty of this, or of the rest; yet some are guilty of one thing, and some of another; some in one degree, & some in another, and there hath been a great deal of carnality amongst us all. Can any of us say, that the care of the Church hath lien upon us, or that the care of souls, that we have had under our charge hath had the weight on us it should have had? We have not commended ourselves to every man's Conscience, nor have we become all things to all men, that we might gain some; nor have we made it our work to seek that which is driven away, and to bind that which was broken; neither have the souls' conditions of these who were going over the bray lien heavy upon us, till they were reclaimed; we were not burnt nor scalded with the stumbling of any, that was the least part of our work; fra [from] once we got a gate [way] of them by publick censures, we troubled not our head with them any more.

6. What ever hath been our diligence and duty, it hath not been our meat and drink to do the will of our master, and to finish his work with delight and pleasure; {13} we have wearied of it.  And many precious Ministers of the Gospel longed for demission, and would have been glad many times to have been laid by, therefore God hath granted them their desire, and hath laid them by, and though they would be glad to speak again in his name, they are justly deferred of that opportunity, till they know and acknowledge their iniquity, and be ashamed of it.

7. May it not be said, as the word is, Jer. 10.2, The Pastors generally were become brutish, therefore have they been smitten, and the flocks scattered; so little religion hath appeared in the practice of many Ministers, that ye should not have known them by [from] other men, by their carriage, if their habit [clothing] had not spoken it. Would God that sad word might not be applied to many Ministers in our time, that profanity hath gone out from them, which hath taught the people to be profane.

8. We have been more busy in strife and contention to strengthen factions, and to hold up our side in controverted things, than busied with the work of converting souls to God. These and many more things may be charged on us; but there is enough here to make us ashamed and therefore you who are the Ministers of Christ, and have the honour to speak in his name, know that unto you is that word spoken, Jer. 12.10, Many Pastors have destroyed my vineyard, and have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. Take time apart and together to think on these things. Charge yourselves with them, and confess them to God when you meet, and your alone mourn over them before him, who hath justly shut us out of his house, as unworthy to bear office therein, and yet acknowledge, that the Lord hath dealt mercifully with us in this matter, for when he might have done it {14} on some horrid account for scandalous transgressions, he hath laid us by on an honourable account of sufferers for him, because he hath found some sincerity in us. And when he hath humbled the Ministers of Scotland, who are laid by, as useless, I hope he shall yet take service off their hands; but we would know, that his voice, and the voice of his rod now is, Ministers, go preach to your selves, because ye did not preach to your selves before, and if we take with our sin, and get our peace made with him, it may be he make us yet polished shafts in his hand; and if not, here we are, let him do to us what seemeth good to him, [2 Sam. 15.26]; however, sure I am, it is present duty to set some time apart for confession of, and mourning over sin; and if we do so, it shall be well with us, however matters go.

2. The second sort I would speak to, is to you who are Elders and Deacons, ye have helped to destroy the Lord's people, and to lay his pleasant portion desolate, therefore God hath loosed your cords by your sin, and made void your authority, and remarkably he lighted first on you, and shut you all to the door together; not that I aim at your guilt more than our own, but I would have you lay to heart your transgressions, & wish I could further you to a thorough conviction of your sin in order to your peace, and God's being pacified towards you, and his people. Can ye say that the souls and bodies of the Lord's people hath lien upon your heart? that it hath been a part of your business to hold up their case to God, and to have them reclaimed, and brought into him? did ye think it not enough, if ye delated a fault, when it came to your knowledge, and when ye had done, ye thought your selves exonered and free? did ye not manage your work with carnal weapons, mixing your wild fire with the zeal of God, boasting of the people of the Lord, ruling {15} over them with rigour and force, disengaging them by your counsels and reproofs? have ye taken conscientious inspection of these places respectively put under your charge? have ye distribute to the poor with bowels of mercy? what account could many of you give of their condition, if ye should be put to it? And give me leave to tell you, that your worldly mindedness, your greed and covetousness, your lying and deceit, your breach of promises and engagements, your tipling, and carnal walking hath taught the people profanity. When ye made no conscience of your words, how should they? When ye abstained not from a Tavern, was it not a snare to them to follow? And therefore, I nothing doubt, I do you any wrong to charge you with destroying the Lord's vineyard.  I shall not insist on your sins; but if ye would search yourselves, confess your sins, set time apart to mourn over them before God, ye might comfort yourselves, that this day ye suffer not as evil doers, but for his name's sake; and happy are ye, if ye continue in adhering to him, his truth, and cause.  But let me obtest you, let men speak of Conventicles, we have another thing to look to than their Acts, and things of that kind: set time apart, yourselves apart, and your wives apart, and meet together and confess and mourn over your sins. O if I could persuade you to this, I do nothing doubt, but ye should yet live to bear honourable charge in the house of God.

A third sort I would speak to are those who are more eminent amongst the people. We have not any Nobles, and God be thanked for it, they have little credit who have most of them; neither would I have you to think, that I mean of any particular Gentleman, in what I am to speak. We have not a considerable Gentleman in all the Parish; but any of you that are more eminent than others, take it to you, and I would charge you with some {16} things, that I would have you (insofar as ye are guilty) convinced of and mourning before the Lord and amending.  The first thing, that I charge on you Gentles is, that when ever Christ or his cause had ought to do, ye sent out the blind, the halt, and the Lame, the profanest Runagates [Renegades] to fight for the cause, and I wish that there were not ground to say of some, that they should have some males in their flock, and yet send out the blind, the halt, and the lame in their room, and the consequence of this was often told you, the miscarriages of the armies did so stumble the Lord's people in other lands, that it hath holden up, and yet holds up jealousies betwixt the godly in both nations to this day, that they can think on nothing unanimously.  2. I charge you with oppression, and grinding the faces of the poor. [Isa. 3.15.] I know ye will startle at the naming of this, but I cannot help it.  I dare say ye have used your Brethren as your slaves, and made their lives bitter unto them.  I do not justify their undutiful carriage to you here, neither would I have you think I reflect on your credit, to tell you your sin: Your Consciences will justify your Ministers, that it hath been a part of our work to hold up your credit and conscience, and would have sweetened the lives of the poor bodies under you. I know ye will say, they would not be the better, though ye should give them down of their rent; but will ye once use this mean to better them; Convince them that ye are merciful, and if they be not better, put them from you.  Is it not lamentable, that every bit of Land ye have racked to the utmost value, so that your Tenants cannot get your rent payed, and bread to keep in their lives for their labour? I know ye will be loath to be convinced of this, though God's dealing with you may convince you more than my speaking to you, had not your forbears less rent, and less Land, and richer {17} Tenants? And yet ye are blind and will not see God threatening to cast out of your lap your dishonest gain; yea to cast yourselves out of the Land, and from your habitations.  O that ye would be persuaded to look to God in this, and lay your heads together, and consult how this ill might be helped.  3. I may justly charge you with this, that ye bring up your Sons in vanity; will our Gentles now put their Children to callings? No, as if that were a discredit to them, and their Credit that they should live in idleness, and then they turn Malignants, and Persecutors of the Godly, drunkards, Thieves, and whoremasters, men that will neither do well, nor let others do well wherever they come, but are a pest in every society where they come.  Sure I am, it were more credit for you and them both, to have them bred at some honest Calling, than to have them slaying men in other Countries, or trailing a pick to fight against the Turk, or coming through the Country, as some of them are daily with their Testimonials seeking our charity, or begging from door to door.  4. May I not charge many houses of our Gentry, for being nests of uncleanness, cages of unclean birds, so that if any sober man should come into them, they should not think they have been bred under the Gospel light: & is not this a horrid reproach upon you?  5. May I not charge you with this, that now and then ye fall out in your unhappy fits of passion, in cursing, banning, and swearing, and are not ashamed of this? There are not many of them nowadays, but ask, what he is? He is a Gentleman indeed, but he is very passionate, and given to banning and swearing, and on that can let an oath flee.  But I have not skill of that man's Religion, who bridles not his tongue; Sure I am, the Spirit of God calls that man's Religion vain, James 1.26. It is true, ye have had a respect to Ministers, and some of you have {18} carried a great respect to them on some account; but did ye lay as great weight on & had ye as great respect to their message? Hath not that been undervalued by you, as if there had been another gate [way] for you to heaven, than for poor folk; and what care we for your respect to us, whilst ye slight our message?  6. May ye not be charged for want of Charity? Have ye opened your hand to the poor & needy? I fear your charity may be soon counted and reckoned from one year's end to another; ye will give your plack [copper coin] at the Church door, and your alms at your gate, but have ye searched for poor & needy Objects; this should have adorned Religion more than many other things, that better might have been forborn.  7. May ye not also be charged for want of zeal to the cause of God? Especially of late have ye not been so afraid for your lives & states which was impawned for the cause that is now overthrown? Nay, I lay it upon your Conscience, if ye thought this a duty incumbent for you, the Lord knows I intend not to lay open your nakedness, but rather to set you in a way to make you honourable; and what is that? Even to lay to heart your sin, and take time to mourn over it, and make your peace with God. Ye get now and then visits from Ministers: make use of them, set some time apart, and make earnest of it, for words will not do it; and when ye have mourned over your evils, set about the mending of them, as I fear your sad days be but coming yet.  I know, ye will think ye know the worst of it, and that is compliance. I confess, that is the worst of it at present, but there is worse coming; if ye comply, ye shall not escape God's wrath, and if ye mourn not, though ye comply not, ye shall not escape that wrath that abideth impenitents, and ye may ere long be shaken out of your worldly inheritance.  And is there not much need then that ye should have your peace made with God, and the {19} lively hope of heaven as an antidote against that?

4. A fourth sort is the body of the people. I know you have assented to all that has been asserted against Ministers & Gentlemen, and it is like ye are glad to hear such Doctrine, but have ye not also destroyed the Lord's vineyard, & laid his pleasant portion desolate by your sins?  1. I charge you with deceitfulness, & over-reaching one another, with covetousness and worldly-mindedness, and a spirit of contention flowing from your covetousness, so that for a pluck [bite] of grass, and a beast going over the marsh, ye have taken up a standing quarrel for year and day.  And have they not taken ten times more of you to whom ye were not so much beholden, and ye durst not say it was ill done? and yet ye did not consider, nor take it from the Lord, as a chastisement for your contention on so feckless grounds.  2. May I not charge you with complaining, grudging, whining, and whispering, for the little that was taken from you, for upholding the cause and Covenant of God, and for paying Ministers' stipends, and it may be ye shall lay more out on a worse account to them who will give you no thanks for it.  It may be, ye would now give out your money to keep up the Gospel, but it will not be bought with money.  3. I charge you for not taking the Gospel off our hands: we tell you, that God is now giving up treating with you for this, ye have come to hear, but ye have returned your profane gates [ways].  I know your tipling, lying, banning, and swearing, your scorning of the Godly, your Sabbath breaking, envy, malice, disrespect to Ministers, for all your fashions, and will ye not be convinced and ashamed for these things?  4. I Charge you for having a cruel hatred at Gentlemen, and for contempt of them and others above you; your fretting and undutiful carriage hath been palpable.  I wish you had subjected yourselves more cheerfully. {20} Take time and meet together, and your alone, and mourn over these sins, and many more, and seek God's mercy.  I have known several of your meetings, when there was less reason.  I know not how ye have fallen from them now. Will ye fall to them again, and do all seriously with God, that he may pity you and yours?

5. I have somewhat to say to Servants; do ye know, that ye have destroyed the Lord's vineyard, and have had a hand in all the evils lying on his people. I charge you with these things.  1. That ye have not received the Gospel, though we have mourned over you with tears; ye have never made earnest of making your peace with God; and know ye not that he is now giving up treating with such Rebels?  2. Think upon your profane carriage, your filthy words and sports, your lascivious, wanton, & graceless way of conversing, your pride and vanity occasioned through God's goodness, and a cheap year; fulness of bread hath so puffed you up, that ye misken [mis-know, be ignorant of] your station; ye must have word about with those that are over you, and the world dow [can] not bear your pride, which appears in your apparel, other things we will not name.  I put it to your Conscience, have ye done your master's work as your own? have ye taken their rebukes & reproofs without snuffing and answering again? nay rather, was not, and is not your pride such, as that ye dow [can] not bear a word? but ere long ye shall bear more with them, to whom ye were not so much obliged, and dare not speak again. In a word, ye was well, and wist [knew] not, ye say, ye had no liberty to serve God: but lie not to God; in all the world there is not a place, wherein servants have had more liberty to serve God, than in this West-Country.  3. May I not charge you men-servants, who were pitched upon, that ye shifted to go out and fight the {21} Lord's battles, for the cause and Covenant of God, to which ye were bound as well as Ministers and Gentlemen, and it may be, ye be forced to harle [drag] a pike to a battle, where the quarrel will not be so clear. Servants, I speak to you, have ye not reason, considering these things, and many more, to make time and mourn for your sins, whereby ye have destroyed the Lord's Vineyard? Ye will say, ye have no time; but let me say it, I fear ye shall get time enough ere long. God will give you the Sabbath-day, ere ye have that excuse, and on your silent Sabbaths mourn, if ye have a heart to mourn.

6. And lastly, I shall speak a few things to the Godly, And O that I could persuade you, that ye have helped to destroy the Lord's Vineyard.  And it is the provocations of his Sons and of his Daughters, that have brought this destruction on Israel.  It is true, he is angry at Ministers, Elders and Deacons, Gentlemen, Commons and Servants as such.  But it is as true, that he hath another quarrel at all in these stations and relations, who are Godly, and as such; and who knows, but he hath reserved you for such a day, that ye might venture your life as Esther, in going to the King: that which I mean is, that ye may go in and wrestle with God for removing of wrath. Ye are persons, who have had moyen [influence] with God, but it has not been improven; and I have more to charge you with, than my memory can reach, or time will permit to lay before you.  But 1. I charge you with falling from your first love, evidenced by falling from your former diligence.  2. I charge you, that ye are turned formal in all your religious performances: Alas! that ye understand not better the voice of that late rod of Sectaries upon you, who cried down all forms, to make you more cordial, rather than to turn more formal in all duties {22} of worship.  3. I charge you with slothfulness, in giving to the Lord the refuse of your time; he gets but fits and starts of you, after or betwixt turns.  It was a great word in that man, I will not serve the Lord with that which cost me nothing, 2 Sam. 24.24. Is not Religion one main clause of the Covenant? why then are ye so slothful and overly [careless] in all religious performances?  4. I charge you with worldly-mindedness, so that I defy any to draw a straw betwixt you and many others that know not God, as to this thing.  Covetousness hath overwhelmed all, so that it is turned into a common saying, he is a Godly man, but he is right greedy; there is no halt [lameness, weakness] as to the gathering of gear, except in the poor, who cannot get it.  5. I charge you with prevailing passions, and inordinate affections to every Idol, that comes in your way. Are ye not as soon saddled, and as soon angry and in a passion and dow [can] bear as little, as these [still] in nature? are ye not ready to flee in fire at every word that thorters [crosses] you?  6. I charge you with pride and self-conceit, and despising them that comes not up your measure, therefore God threatens to level you ere long.  7. I charge you with unbelief and ignorance of God and his Word, so that I dare say, there's not a Christian among an hundred that believeth this Bible to be the Word of God, so as to lay more weight on a threatening and a ground of challenge from it, than on the bark of a dog, notwithstanding of a large dispensation of means, and for so long a time. You have sitten down on poor probabilities of an interest in Christ: but there is not one among many fixed in it.  How many of you are under heart condemning? Though God hath been telling you the evils every day, wherefore he contends, whiles by his word, and whiles by your conscience, yet ye amend not.  And do ye think that God can abide with his Gospel? ye may make din [fuss] and say, {23} what will we do, if we want it? But what have ye done with it? It is to be feared that many of you would live as well without it as Atheists.  8. The true substantials of Religion are decayed, as  1. True tenderness under challenges: the time has been when ye would have been challenged for an idle word, and mourned over it, but now not for fourteen idle deeds, neither can ye mourn.  2. Tenderness in Conscience is much decayed, ye are not so tender as to start at a straw, as ye were wont to do.  3. Where is that searching out of promises, and the application of them to events, I dare say, many of you some few years ago had ten times more promises than ye have this day, and for applying of all that falls out to some Scripture, to make out that all his ways are mercy and truth to his own. Is not that much gone, though by it ye used to hold in your life?  4. There was also a bensil [force] to edify others, but where is that gone now?  5. Where is that wonted zeal against sin, and for the glory of God? Surely in this trial, God hath taken us with our back at the wall.  6. Add the abuse and neglect of your Christian Fellowship, which hath provoked God to scatter you.  But I insist no further. May I think ye will set time apart to mourn over these evils, and seek for grace to get them helped? And O that I could persuade you. Sure I am, considering these things, all ranks will justify the Lord in all that he hath done: but what will all we have said, avail, if it be not taken off our hand, however I shall take heaven and earth to witness, that I have charged these things upon you, and yet, I say not, on you, but on us all; and I would fain hope, that we will take some time to the thorough conviction of them on our spirits, and mourn over them before the Lord.  If ye do, I dare promise in his name, he will hear, and give an outgate; if no, your bands shall grow stronger.  I shall say no {24} more; but if Israel were throughly convinced, that he hath destroyed himself, there were hope that in him were Israel's help, which, if we get time and opportunity to speak, shall be shewed to you, even that notwithstanding we have destroyed ourselves, yet there is hope of help in him.


Footnotes:

1. The Reader may judge from this what Mr. Guthrie's thoughts would have been concerning that revolution which supposedly ended the times of persecution in Scotland. How vain the epithet "Glorious Revolution" and almost (if not fully) blasphemous! Is it glorious for iniquity to not be removed? or for one form of iniquity to be exchanged for another? or for a national church to succumb to a national tyranny establishing national iniquity and backsliding by a law? Is it glorious for broken Covenants to remain broken? Should Christians glory in the imprisonment of men such as Sir Robert Hamilton, Thomas M'Millan, John Clark, and John Hepburn? Is it a glorious revolution, we may ask, that has led to the present state of affairs?—JTKer.