TIMES OF PERSECUTION IN SCOTLAND,
SUFFERERS FOR THE ROYAL PREROGATIVES OF JESUS CHRIST.
Sermons & Lectures by Richard Cameron.
Do any of you know whether the Lord will be here this day? How many of you have been endeavouring to wrestle with the Lord this last night that He might come here to this meeting. It is likely that there are several here, so to speak, that though they saw Him would not know Him, and though they heard Him they would not know His voice. Oh, how many are come here today that are as great strangers unto Him as they were that hour they were born! Oh, how many are strangers to God in our Israel! But if ye knew what communion and fellowship with Him were, ye would say all the world is but tasteless and but loss and dung unto you. If ye get a taste of Him this day, ye will say He is sweeter than the honeycomb. "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon the earth that I desire besides thee." If this frame were amongst you, how pleasant would it be! It is likely, the Lord will in less or in more countenance this despised meeting gathered here today, whatever be amongst us. For, indeed, we are black with persecution! And for the enemies, they are indeed a terror unto men; and we, the despised party, are a terror unto some of them. But there is a remnant, and they, being in our Lord Jesus Christ, are comely and desirable.
Now stir up yourselves! and since ye are assembled, ye shall all have an offer of Him this day. Prepare for it. We are in some hopes, that we shall get Him offered unto you. If ye sit this offer or invitation, it is a hundred to one if ever ye get the like opportunity again; it is a hundred to one if ever ye get the like, or if ye get not a seal of judicial hardness clapped upon you. It will be much if ever ye get a time or season for receiving Him again in this world. He will be seen of some of you, and there are others of you that will never see Him. And will ye be content to want a sight of Him? It may be, ye shall never see Him, till all the world see Him at the last day, when you shall see yourselves on His left hand. He is now upon the door threshold, so to speak, and He is loath to go from Scotland. Will ye deal with Him not to go away, for if He go away our meeting will be but a heartless one? Then be earnest with Him in praying, and so call upon His name.
THE ground of our following lecture, as we have it in the ninety-second Psalm, is a song or psalm of praise for the Sabbath-day. Ye see that this is the title of the psalm, a psalm or song for the Sabbath-daynot but that it may be made use of on other days. There is no reason or warrant to respect other days, or to restrict the Lord unto us. I will tell you what it imports. It imports that the praising and giving thanks to Him is an exercise suitable to the Lord's people, and we think that if we had but a right uptaking of the Sabbath we would spend much of it in singing psalms of praise to Him. Ye know that the Jewish Sabbath was the seventh or last day of the week, wherein the Lord rested from His work in making of the world, and the Christian Sabbath is the first day of the week whereon Christ rose again from the work of man's redemption. Let us then remember to give thanks unto Him that rose again from the dead. It is not revealed unto us what day of the month He rose, because we are not to keep other days than what He hath appointed in His word. But we keep other days upon necessary accounts. Ye heard yesterday they were giving thanks for the blackest day that Scotland ever saw, and for a day we will all mourn for ere long; and on such a day it were more suitable that we were all mourning, for there is not a Presbyterian in Scotland that is not mourning for the twenty-ninth of Maya doleful day to the Church of Scotland! But let us give thanks that Christ came into the world, that He laid down His life, and that He is risen again, and is ascended unto the Father's right hand, and lives and reigns for evermore.
- It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O thou most High:
- To shew forth thy loving-kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,
- Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.
- For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy works: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.
- O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep.
- A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.
- When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed forever:
- But thou, Lord, art most high forevermore.
- For, lo, thine enemies, O Lord, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.
- But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.
- Mine eye also shall see my desire on mine enemies, and mine ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me.
- The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
- Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.
- They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;
- To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.Psalm 92.
It is likely ye find it hard work to praise Him at this time; but have we not great reason to bless Him, that He hath again assembled a part of His people in this land in great hazard, and dismissed them in peace? I warrant you that on Friday1 many thought we should have been left dead carcasses on the place by the dragoons, if they had got leave. They would have got a breakfast of us, and many would have been glad. But blessed be the Lord who gave us not to their teeth! He gave us outward strength, and, which was much more, He gave us signs of His presence; and have we not reason to praise Him for His goodness, and to give thanks unto the Lord for His mercies to give and bestow more than ye have seen and heard? And this night should ye be made to praise Him for Friday's night, even for that day, and that night, and our safety to this day. Many think we have a poor life of it; many in the parish of Auchinleck, and the parishes thereabout, are at ease. But if ye knew our life ye would envy and covet it, for as our affliction abounds, our consolation also superabounds; and this takes all the bitter out of our cup, and a sweet cup we have of it now.
The Jewish way under the law of praising the Lord was upon the timbrel, the harp, psaltery, and ten-stringed instruments, and other instruments of music that belonged to ceremonial worship that is now abolished. Christ, who is the end of the law, has torn or taken away the ceremonies of the law, and there is no warrant now to make use of the organs, as they do in the Popish Church, and in the Prelatical Church of England, and even among them that are more reformed, those over in Holland. Oh, but we have a great advantage in being free of these! But there are some in the other extreme, that are for no music at all, but we are to sing and praise vocally, and with the heart too. This reproves Quakers, who make a mock at singing of psalms. But we will let them see a fine ancient warrant for vocal music. "And be not drunk with wine... speaking to yourselves in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody in your hearts to the Lord." See that all duties be done in His name, and ye must study to be holy, and to have His Spirit, and to be Christians; and see that ye be kindly affectioned one to another. Now this is the reason why David thus cries up thanksgiving. Thanks to the Lord indeed, says he. I find it true what the devil says of Job (though falsely applied), Doth Job serve the Lord for nought? It was not for his own end, but from a better principle. Then he adds, "Thou hast made me glad through thy work, the works of thy hand." Can ye give any account of that? When ye look to the moon, to the stars, to the rivers and brooks, do ye see the hand of God in them? When ye look to the very corn ridges, do ye see the hand of God in them, and in every pile of grass? Meditations of this kind would make you more meet to praise Him.
But how few see anything in the creation! There are some that see more of God in looking to the creatures than in many sermons. "Thou hast made me more glad through the works of thy hands." And this may make us glad that we have such a meeting in the land. But if ye had much faith, the Lord would do great things for us; and meetings of this kind would not fall to the ground. The Christian that is strong in faith finds in all things he looks unto matter of praise to God; the soul is made lively, when it can praise God, that the wicked is flourishing. It is a good token that prelates and malignants are great and successful. In this it is very well; it is in order to some great thing. The faster they ride the better for His people; it is in order for something upon the back thereof. But if ye saw this, ye might sing in hopes of the victory, or ye would sing better; for the victory is real, seeing ye may see it by faith as if ye saw it with your own eyes.
Then he says, "I will triumph in the works of thy hands." Some would triumph in a great army, with a great man at their head, or in a parliament; but know ye what it is to triumph in the works of His hands? Oh, His thoughts are very deep! It is true, the thoughts of the Pope's Conclave are very deep, the thoughts of the Turks' Alcoran are deep, and the thoughts of the Council of Britain are very deep, and the plots of our enemies are very deep. But oh, how deep are His thoughts! He sits in the heavens and laughs, and will laugh all their devices to nought. Ye would all read the Lord's mind, but it were not good that ye knew and saw the good that is in the Lord's power and purpose to do for these lands, for Scotland, England, and Ireland. If we knew it we would be apt to turn delirious and lightheaded. Our weak heads would not bear the new wine of heaven. No, we could not bear it; "A brutish man knoweth not, neither do fools understand this."
Hence we may observe that all men by nature are but brutish fools. What is the king, and what is the council, and what are all our persecutors but fools and fanatics? But I say they are nothing different from these horses, if not madder; for we make them ride through moss and muir, and sometimes we ride them so deep that we cannot get them out again. The devil rides and drives King Charles II. and his Council through moss and muir, and over crags and rocks. And, mark ye this, when will he leave them again? nay, he will keep them till he take them to hell, and keep them in torments to all eternity. Indeed, the Lord seems to frown many a time, and many a time His people think they cannot take up His mind; but what think ye of that word, "The wicked spring as the grass"? The wicked flourish this day. I profess it is very good news. It is, "that they may be cast down, and they shall be destroyed for ever." We think that they are not unripe. Now they are flourishing, it is that they may be cut off. Ye know they were not so flourishing last year as they are this. Ye think they will be overcome when they are not flourishing, but ye are all mistaken. We were strong last year, two troops would not have terrified us; now we cannot get a meeting that dare engage with one troop. But be not dismayed, despond no more: "The day of your redemption draweth nigh:" "they spring like grass; it is that they may be cut off." Our Lord will make them cast away their arms as fast as the poor men did last year upon the 22nd of June at Bothwell Bridge. We had many gentlemen and ministers that were not worthy to be called ministers. It was an ill omen. It was not promising-like that we were over high, and they were not flourishing as now. Lift up your heads, and bestir yourselves, and cry unto Him, "Help, Lord, for the godly man perisheth." What follows? They puff at them. They think nothing of boasting in the most high God, and they think nothing of religion. They are hauling the godly to prison. I profess it is the very good news that will bring a stroke they do not think of. He will say to devils, "They are your own, take them;" and if they were once away they shall be like the waters of Noah. For that Popery, these bishops, supporters of Popery, Prelacy, and Indulgences, if they were once away, they shall never return again upon the earth any more. It is the true Church will never want enemies. But in my mind He will never fill the kirks with the like of them in this world again. I am not afraid of them. They will away, it is true; they may take and shoot us in the fields, and take us to prisons and scaffolds, but they cannot do that without orders and permission. They cannot wrong one hair of our heads. But this we are sure of, they will away. They shall go away with stink, and the people that are adhering to this way, to our Covenants, to the Confession of Faith, our Larger and Shorter Catechisms, shall be the people that shall be delivered. This is good news. And we have ground to believe that our life is secure, and that our bread and our water is suremore sure than if the king should say, "Ye shall have your life, and a guard to keep you." We do not fear him. We are not beholden to him for anything, neither will we trust anything he says. For my part, I would not believe him to speak the truth in one word. And our Lord hath a greater controversy with him and his family than with any in our land. Our Lord is higher than pope, king, and prelates. Indeed, they think to be above Him. The Turk has a great part of the world, and this king and that king has a little blade or leaf of the world. He casts it to them, and what does He care to cast a bone to a dog? But our Lord's name is a great name, and He must be exalted above all principalities and powers whatsoever. "For lo! thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered." It is thrice repeated in this psalm that they shall perish and be destroyed. Ye have God's word for itwe may say it is a good old word. It is long since that word was said that His enemies shall be destroyed. But some may say, "They are still prospering." I answer, He has been still destroying them as they become ripe for destruction. What! would ye have them destroyed before ye know what they are? He knows them well enough at first, but He would have His people know them too, that they may see that He is a righteous judge. Where He destroys, they shall never get up again. The Babylonians were destroyed two thousand years since, and they have never got up again. Pharaoh was destroyed, and he never got up his head again. Sennacherib, Alexander, and other enemies of God are destroyed, and have never appeared again; for, "lo! thine enemies shall perish." But if ye will know the revelation, and those that have commented upon it, and those that have written upon the Bible, they all agree upon it, that the time is near that they shall come down. But says David, the Church's representative, "They shall be destroyed." And says he, further, "Mine horn shall be exalted," that is, his power and the interest of his stock. The interest of this world is the stock of the beast. The people of God are a nuisance to them, they cannot hear of them; but they shall, says he, be "anointed with fresh oil;" they shall be savoury and desirable; mine "eye shall see my desire upon mine enemies." We would not be cruel, but we would be at that. Ah, Lord, hold Thine hand! The vengeance shall be so great when it comes, and "mine ear shall hear my desire of the wicked, that rise up against me."
The righteous shall flourish, like the palm tree. Here ye see it is best to be planted in the house of God, but I wot well there is no curate-plant in His house this day. And are not the indulged worse? for they are also under the sign and badge of the beast. How is it that they hold their ministry? They hold it in dependence upon the devil's vicegerent, for if ever he had a vicegerent on earth, it must be Charles II., and preach as they will either in houses or churches they shall not flourish; and what they add to their estates, or have for bed and back, or to eat, it is dear bought: they shall not flourish. But for the people here, "They shall flourish, and bring forth fruit in old age." And may not any person see that they have neither fruit nor leaves? I appeal unto you that are hearers, if they be as lively as they were wont formerly to be. There is neither minister nor elder that hath sided with the enemy, and hath taken that liberty to preach in the house, but what hath lost both fruit and leaves.
And the conclusion of the whole is, to show that the Lord is upright, He is my rock. And His people shall get leave to flourish always before Him. Ye see they shall get leave to see and behold Him. "He is my counsellor and consolation," says David. There are many at this day that will not have this to be. They will not take Him for their counsellor, but black is that counsel they take among themselves! "He is my rock, and fortress: and they that trust in him, shall never be ashamed." Ye shall yet look up like men, and they shall not have the confidence to look man or woman in the face. Amen.
1. This refers to their meeting on the 28th, when the foregoing sermon was delivered.