And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.—Luke 24.27.

[A Choice Collection: Lecture 2, Sermons 3 & 4, by James Renwick.]
 
A C H O I C E
C O L L E C T I O N
OF VERY VALUABLE
PREFACES, LECTURES, AND SERMONS

P R E A C H E D

Upon the MOUNTAINS and MUIRS, &c. of SCOTLAND,
In the hottest Time of the late PERSECUTION.

By that faithful Minister and Martyr of Jesus Christ,
The REVEREND MR. JAMES RENWICK.

Carefully collected, and faithfully transcribed, from seve-
ral Manuscripts; and now published by the Owners of
that Cause, which the famous AUTHOR sealed with his
Blood.

MARK i. 2. The Voice of one crying in the Wilderness, Prepare ye
the Way of the Lord, make his Paths straight.

G L A S G O W:
Printed and sold by JOHN BRYCE, Bookseller, Saltmarket.



M,DCC,LXXVI.
 
Contents:
  1. Preface
  2. Lecture 2
  3. Sermon 3
  4. Sermon 4


 
PREFACE.

BELOVED, the apostle Paul says to the Corinthians, I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; so that I may say to you, Sirs,

1. I am jealous over you with a great jealousy, that the most part of you that are come here, are but mere black atheists; so that if there were an impartial search made on each of us, although we are living in the midst of the church, it is to be feared, that the most of you who are come here, would be found very atheists; but think not, because you are living in the midst of the church, that the judgment of God when passing through the land will miss such, or pass by you; nay, it will find you out, and that ere it be long, for he is coming to judge, and the books will be opened, and all that are atheists shall perish.

2. I am jealous that the most part of you who are come here, will not win through the storms which are coming on these lands, for all that we have met with is little, to what is coming; and the most part will fall, yea, there are many that have come through many straits and suffering, that will not win through the storm that is coming, as it was with Peter, when he went down into the sea, he walked a while above the water; but after, when the waves began to blow hard, he began to sink; when the storm increased he fainted, even so I fear it be with many of you; yea, even these who have endured storms and difficulties heretofore, I fear a growing storm will make you to sink ere all be done; yet I would not have you to think that I am uncharitable in so saying; but I say it, to make you seek strength to stand. O seek the increase of all grace, and especially of faith, against this storm come on you.

3. I am jealous over you, as to your willingness to come to Christ: O sirs, are you willing to come to Christ, and to have your will changed? It is the consent of the will, that will carry you through with the consent of the persuasion; for the persuasion will not do your turn, but you must receive him with the consent of the will also; O then receive him so in fear, and in love, and seek to be kept in his hands.

4. I am jealous over you with a great jealousy, that many of you know not what you are seeking, whereas your many inconveniences, difficulties, and discouragements in your way, do call you to search, try, and know your errands; O seek a right impression of the majesty of God upon you. So much for the first thing that I had to say to you. {34}

And the second thing I have to say to you, is some things I would require of you that are come here. And,

1. I require you to seek a right impression of the majesty of God upon you, that you may be suitably exercised thereunto.

2. I require you to be sincere in seeking of God; for seldom any get Christ in the ordinance that come for other ends; it is true, some have gotten good of the ordinances that came for other ends, but it is very rare; however, be what you will, or your ends what they will, we wish you to be profiters by your here coming.

3. I require you to come empty, O come empty of all things; O the sense of your necessity would make you with Jacob to say, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me, for thou only can help me in whatever condition I am in.

4. I require you that are come here, to look to the Lord, for your profiting in your here coming; O! we are but poor empty creatures, and have nothing to impart unto you, therefore we beseech you to look to the Lord, that must give and bestow on you that which must and can do you good, O then look unto him for your profiting and gain in your here coming.


 
LECTURE II.

PSALM 23.1-6.

  1. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
  2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.
  3. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
  5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
MY friends, we would be a blessed company, if we could say with David, The Lord is my shepherd; if you could once say this, then you might lay claim to all the rest that is {35} in the psalm. Now the psalmist lays down here, many brave conclusions from the Lord's being his shepherd; and by these he comforts himself. And the

1. Conclusion he draws from this, is, that he leads him in green pastures, and by the quiet and still waters; whereby is to be understood, abundance of all things needful for him in spirituals and temporals, which he enjoyed with much ease and pleasure, like as a flock of sheep coming to quiet waters, get easy drinking thereof, with all ease and conveniency, without impediment.

2. He concludes, That he shall be well fed and nourished, there was no doubt of plenty, they should (meaning himself and all the truly godly) be fed as with marrow and with fatness in his pastures.

3. He concludes, That he leads them in righteousness, as if he had said, there is no doubt [fear] of their straying here, for his way is perfect and converts the sinner; therein making them perfect in righteousness.

4. His pasture is a sure pasture, for says he, he will be my guide, his rod and his staff is with me; and being mentioned here, the rod signifies his correction, and his staff imports his government, or holds out his kingly office and power, that he rules by his sovereign authority.

5. There is this held out in this psalm, that this pasture is a pleasant pasture, and full of spiritual dignities; and holds out his assurance of his fruition and enjoyment thereof all his life.

6. There is this also held out by this psalm, his duration and continuance in that blessed and happy estate.

Now we shall observe some things from these conclusions, which the psalmist lays down here; and so from the first conclusion that he is his shepherd, we shall observe,

1. That the psalmist in so doing, doth it after the manner of men; and yet God is not angry nor displeased with him for this style: You know that a shepherd is not much in respect with the world; and yet our Lord stoops so low, that he condescends to take on him this style of being a shepherd. And hence we may see, his love to his church and sheep; as also, that he will be careful of them and lead them.

2. That before a person can draw any sure conclusion of their state, they must get him to be theirs, or they must have an interest in him; O then sirs, labour to get him to be your God! O get him to be your King! get him to be the object of your love above all things; and then fear not, you shall not want any thing that he sees good for you. It may be some of you think that you have many straits and wants as to the world, yet look on that as God's good dealing with you, since he sees it better for you to want than to have your desire {36} therein; what is good the Lord will give, and what would you have more than take all well out of his hand?

3. Observe, That the Lord who is a good shepherd, leads his people in a good pasture, though the world thinks our case very sad; and though enemies cast out the people of God to hunger and die in the fields, yet they shall be fed for all that, and shall grow and flourish; O then sirs! get Christ to be your shepherd, and you shall get life, you shall get grace and glory, yea, and your wilderness shall become a fruitful field, and you shall not be barren.

Next from the second conclusion that he draws, which was, the he should be fed, from that, observe,

1. That though the people of God be overcome sometimes, yet he will come to restore life and health again; or thus, though they be like to be swallowed up, both as to their spirituals and temporals; yet there is a day of restoration coming, in which they will be revived again: but alas! I fear there be many of you so ignorant of God, that you do not discern between his presence and his absence; and you that are such, know not what that restoring or reviving is.

2. Observe, That there is no safety in such a stumbling day, but to seek to be led and guided of God, now when all are out of the way; and for my part, I know of nothing that will bring or set folk right, and keep them right in such a day, but a deep impression of the wrath of God, and of the cause of God upon your spirits, and a deep impression of your duty to God, and to your generation; and never think you will be right while [until] you come to this, and to look only to God for your leading and guiding.

3. Observe, That you must look only for good in and thro' Christ's merits, and no other way, it must come all thro' that channel, and not for any thing in you, or ought that you can do; but look to God, who must come down and condescend to you, for you will never be able to come up to him, he must (to speak so) make the travel, for we cannot do it; O sirs! here is a broad field and large pasture to feed on, therefore, O sirs! come here and be satisfied with this fruitful field of Christ's merits and bounty.

But next from the third conclusion, viz. That in the Lord's most righteous paths, is the safest pasture. Observe,

1. That the people of God may be in that case, that they cannot tell where they are, they may be in great trouble of spirit, and great darkness, and go through many a sad and dark step, Isa. 43.1, &c. Yea, they may go through many a weary step, ere they come to their outgate from under these, yet fear not, it will come in due time; you would ay be at a world of ease without any feck of trouble, you would be at {37} that to have two summers in one year; but you must resolve to have dark steps, to let you see your need of his guiding and leading you.

2. Observe, The people of God will not do anything right, and they will fear and dread anything, till once they get a saving sight of Christ, and their interest made sure in him; and then they will be bold, they will not fear, neither the fear of sin, nor the fear of the punishment; O get this! and get faith in exercise; in the assurance of this, you may brag in your strength, for faith is a great bragger; but you may still see this, that it never brags in the creature, but in God, who can deliver out of all troubles and every difficulty, when he sees his own time; and we may say this, that straits and difficulties should feed and embolden the faith of the people of God, for, if you would ask David, What it was that made him so fearless and confident? Here is the reason of it, the Lord is with me, or thou art with me. O sirs! seek to get the Lord with you; but seek not the assurance of this perverse generation, seek not the assurance of compliers and their confederates; but seek that the Lord may be with you, and slavish fear shall flee away, and the fear of man shall flee away.

3. Observe, That God hath shewed the instruments wherewith he leads and guides his people, viz. his rod and his staff, that is, his correction and government, doctrine, and discipline, by which he leads, governs, and feeds his people to their great comfort.

4. Observe, That by sanctified trials, he makes his people a wise people, so that some times, and in some respects, they become wiser than their teachers; O sirs! get this pass and absolution, viz. That you are interested in him, and that is wisdom; but, though you should be absolved by all the world, if you want this, you shall be rejected of God: O then! seek your interest in him, and then all other things shall be sure to you.

Next from the fourth conclusion, which he lays down in this psalm, viz. The sureness of the believer's portion, tho' in sight of their enemies.

1. Observe, That believers shall not want any thing that shall be for their good; O believe this! that even when you are meeting with robbing and spoiling, and casting out of your houses, and are cruelly used by enemies, so that you are become a by-word and derision, a proverb and a hissing, yea, a wonder in Israel, yet in all that, you are meeting with nothing but what shall be for your good; O believe this! believe this sirs! and look to Christ who hath a broad back and strong arms to bear you up in all these; O sirs! do not comply with enemies, but betake yourselves to Christ, and plead your necessity from these things, that he may be your guide, {38} and get your interest made sure in him, and you shall not want what is good; and as you will readily profess, that you will trust your spiritual concernments to him, so let your temporal wants be on him also.

2. Observe, That his people shall be fed, were it even in the presence of their enemies; although they seek to starve you, and to make you miserable by their acts and laws, which they put out against you; yet, though they seek to destroy you, fear not, neither for your spiritual nor temporal necessities, for they shall be seen to; dare any of you say, for all that the enemies have done, that ever you had cause to complain? although they have done all that they could to cut off the life both of soul and body, yet you are fed in both.

3. Observe, that the people of God are not only fed, but they are fed to the full, so that their cup runs over, and he anoints them with oil; oil is said to make man's face to shine, and it is taken in several places of scripture for the graces of the Spirit, as a parable of the ten virgins, &c. but here it signifies their satisfaction in all their necessities in soul and body.

And from the fifth conclusion that he draws from this psalm, viz. His holding out of God's favouring of him with his goodness,

Observe, 1. That we are to look to God for the doing of the work himself, for his own name's sake, and for nothing in us moving him to it: He says in another place, it is not for your sake, but for his own name's sake that he doth this.

2. Observe, That the believer's inheritance shall be made sure to him; all things in the world shall vanish away; but the believer's portion shall never fail, nor vanish away.

Sixthly, and lastly, From the sixth conclusion that he lays down here, viz. That the Lord is his dwelling-place, and that he shall have a sure abode in his house. Observe,

1. That believers, and they that are really interested in him, shall dwell with him for ever; he hath a sure abode for that party, They shall go no more out, &c. O sirs! here is the believer's happiness, which goes far beyond any temporal happiness in the world. O! who is able to describe this place of happiness? It is a place of continual loving, a place of continual longing, and a place of continual satisfaction to all eternity.

2. Observe, That it is a place of continual continuing and abode; it will never end, it will continue forevermore: All other inheritances, pleasures, and enjoyments will come to an end, and to many they will come to a sorrowful and miserable end, but this is an enduring substance, an inheritance that lasts forevermore. {39}

Now the Use we draw from all his, is an use of instruction. O sirs! seeing there are so many sweet things to be had with, and in Christ, O then! come and accept of him, and receive him on his own terms. O sirs! get an interest in him; get him to be your shepherd, and you shall be led in his way, and shall get food to your souls. To him be praise for evermore. Amen.



SERMON III.

CANTICLES 2.6.

His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.

NOW, my friends, I would inquire at you who are come here this night, Can you say anything to purpose concerning true manifestations? Now, lay your hands to your hearts, and see what you can say concerning these things. But I may almost speak as well of these things to the stones and dumb creatures beside you, as speak of them to many of you: And, O but it be sad! that a people who have lived so long under the drop of the gospel, should be so ignorant of these things wherein lies the blessed state, and happy lot of believers; yea, instead of that, ye rather look like a people come to see a stage-play, than like a people come to seek Christ in the ordinances. O but Christ hath gotten a bad requital among you! But to come to the words. Here you have the spouse, her last expression or words, &c.

The last day we were on these words, ye heard one doctrine delivered and explained; and now, not to resume it, we come to a second doctrine from the words, and it is this,

DOCTRINE II. That believers may attain to nearness with God, and the assurance of an interest in him.
See for proof of this many places in the Psalms, where my Lord and my God is expressed: And John 20.28, And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord, and my God. But mistake not the faith of adherence for the faith of assurance; for saving faith may be, where assurance is not yet attained or made clear: But it is clear, that where the faith of assurance is, there is also the faith of adherence.

Now, from the doctrine, I shall speak to these three things: {40}

I. Shew you how to attain to the faith of assurance; and in order thereunto,

1. You must retain nothing that will darken your interest in Christ: And so you must not entertain any idol in his room; for none who have true love to Christ will retain love to their idols, but will give all their heart to Christ; and, with Ephraim, will say, What have I to do any more with idols? Hosea 14.8.

2. You would be much in the exercise of right fear; he will give his love to them that fear him: This is not a slavish fear that I am speaking of, but a filial fear; and that is a true godly fear.

3. You must have much tenderness. O seek a tender heart to mourn for all the wrongs that are done unto God in the land! O but much stupidity and want of tenderness appears greatly among you, which greatly mars your assurance.

4. Be diligent to get an interest in God, through Jesus Christ. O! this will not be gotten done negligently: You must give all diligence to get it done, and to attain it, for sleeping will not do the turn: So then, do not think that you will attain it, as long as you are indifferent and negligent.

5. In order to this, you must get a deep sense of your lost condition. Study much the law, that thereby ye may win to see yourselves lost in Adam; for without the right taking up of the law, and your own lost condition by the breach thereof, you will never be persuaded to seek after that blessed Days-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Redeemer of God's elect, to deliver you out of that lost state and condition, which by nature you are in.

6. Then you most seek a deep apprehension of the love of God in Christ Jesus: his love is a free love, there is nothing in you that can move him to pity you: O seek to have much of this manifested unto you, for thereby he gives you this assurance.

7. Meditate much upon the precious promises, held forth to believers in the scriptures through a Redeemer. O but there is great comfort in the believer's lot, who meditates much on the promises which are given to support and comfort his people.

8. Be much in the exercise of faith of adherence, which is the direct act of faith, in order to the attaining of assurance to the believer; and though it be not so comfortable to them that have it as the other, yet it is as sure.

9. You must get the Lord's testimony, by his word and Spirit, that your interest is sure, that you may be confirmed in his way and testimony. {41}

II. A second thing to speak to from the words, is concerning some advantages of the faith of assurance. And,

1. The first advantage of the faith of assurance is, that mortification is much carried on thereby, to any thing in time, or that comes in competition with it, and any thing that folk claim as marks of this faith of assurance; if mortification be not carried on by it, and advanced, they have reason to doubt of that assurance, and rather to conclude that to be a delusion.

2. The second advantage of assurance is, that it makes them more humble who have it. After Paul won to the assurance of his interest, he called himself the least of saints. O but humility be a pleasant thing in the elect! Yea, it makes them very pleasant.

3. The third advantage that attends the faith of assurance, is this, they are much quickened thereby: The psalmist made this clear, when he speaks so often of being quickened. And for my part, I like not that assurance that doth not stir up and quicken to duty in such a day as this.

4. The fourth advantage that attends the faith of assurance, is, it makes them to go confidently to God in a strait: For as the person looks on him as his God, so they come boldly to him, holding forth their interest in him, making that an argument of being heard, or that he must hear them.

5. The fifth advantage that attends the faith of assurance, is, that thereby Christ is more precious to them than all other things; for although he be an undervalued Christ in this generation, yet he is precious to them. O press forward for this mark of assurance!

6. The sixth advantage that attends the faith of assurance, is, that it makes them to be more in the duty of praise, and to say with the psalmist, Psalm 118.28, Thou art my God, and I will praise thee. And it makes them to long more for him, and for more of his fullness. O sirs! if ye had right impressions of his fullness, ye would be longing to be with him; yea, ye would give him more ado.

7. The seventh advantage that attends the faith of assurance, is, that it will help them to endure in sufferings, either in spirituals or temporals; yea, what is it that the faith of assurance cannot help them in? It can make them to esteem a scaffold or imprisonment (or whatever would look terrible-like to others) for Christ and his cause, to be a pleasant thing, and delightsome beyond all time's things; yea, these count the day of their death the most joyful day that ever they saw, when suffering for his cause, though indeed I think that these who suffer for Christ, who have only the faith of adherence, glorify God most; but these who have the faith of assurance in their sufferings, find most comfort. {42}

Now the use that I would make of this point, is,

1. An Use of reproof, to those that quit Christ for the world, and will not be at the pains to try whether they have an interest in Christ or not. So then, come away, Sirs, try yourselves, now you have an offer of Christ, will you not then try whether you be in Christ or not? O sirs! come, receive and embrace him; but if you will not be concerned, or affected, nor receive and take the offer off your hand, then you will be great losers and not he, for he stands in no need of you, but you of him; see then who will be the greatest loser.

Use 2. Submit to God, being in the use of means, for this faith of assurance; but as for the faith of adherence it is altogether necessary for salvation; yea, you must be peremptory in it, for it is essential to salvation.

Use 3. Of reproof, to those who dispute God's purchase, these who believe the devil's suggestions, and will quarrel with God for what he doth.

Use 4. Of reproof, also to these who will not go about duty. O be entreated to set about your duty! though all should go against you; and though you should not meet with that success in duty that you would be at, yet press forward.

Use 5. Is of reproof to them that content themselves with anything that looks like sensible presence, and never press forward for assurance for the time to come, since some of his dear friends have win at it in time, as you find recorded of that great and worthy martyr, Mr. Donald Cargill, who, when on the scaffold, declare that it was near thirty years since he was sure of his interest in God, and all that time he durst never question it, so you may see that such a thing is attainable in time.

Use 6. Is of reproof, to any that seek more to know what they are, than to know what they should be and do; but if you would do right, seek to win at a well grounded, and well ordered walk, in order to your winning at assurance; and this is both the sweet and the safe way; it is sure and safe, I say, when rightly attained, therefore let this be your study and main endeavour at all times.

Another general doctrine from this head is,

DOCTRINE III. That Christ walks with delight among believers.
The first chapter of Revelation is a proof of this, for there Christ is said to walk in the midst of the seven candlesticks, meaning the seven churches; and in the fortieth Psalm, it is said he delights to do his Father's will. O that it were our delight to do him service! He hath pleasure to behold poor things seeking unto him, and putting their trust in him. O but believers be a pleasant sight to him! he compares them to {43} the lilies in respect of other common herbs; for the church is to Christ, as the lily among thorns. O believers! will ye come and be partakers of his divine nature, and you shall be like him, and pleasant unto him, and he will greatly delight in you, and walk amongst you: I need not prove this further, but any improvement and enlargement that I shall make thereon, shall be by way of use. And the

1. Use is of exhortation. O sirs! admire at this love of Christ that he hath unto believers. It is said, that the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, and yet that he dwells with him that is of a humble and contrite spirit. O wonderful! that he will dwell with vile dust. O then! wrap up yourselves in admiration at his low condescendency.

Use 2. Is of advice. O then! admire the happy condition of believers, they shall dwell in the house of joy and delight forevermore: Who then would not quit and relinquish all things to be at him? O then! sirs, quit your idols, and make choice of the rose of Sharon, and him who is the lily of the valley.

Use 3. Is of instruction. O sirs! is it with believers that Christ will dwell? O then! come and close with him, that not only will dwell with you, but that can do all things for you, and unto you. O come unto him! But, O many of you are a stupid generation, who will not be affected with your own miserable and lost case and condition though he be offered unto you! But here in his name we invite you to come and close with Christ, and he will dwell with you, and you shall have all things; but if you refuse, we leave it at your door as a witness against you. O sirs! here I protest against your having any right, either to the faith of assurance or adherence, if ye come not and close with him as he is offered in the gospel: But, O come and close with him! and then ye may lay claim to the faith of adherence and assurance that are to be had in him: O come, come!

Use 4. Is of instruction. O seek to partake of his righteousness and likeness! and as he is holy, O seek to be holy like unto him! O let this furnace you have been in, and yet are in, this long time, part you and your dross! Now pray that it may not only discover the dross that is in you, but that it may part you from your dross, and that you may be made to rejoice now, and in the end to sing songs of triumph. And together with a good walk and practice, labour to get the cause rightly stated in your hearts, and then you shall not be permitted to comply with enemies in the least; and whatever enemies, and such as comply with them, seek as a sign of yielding or compliance from you, refuse them in that, be it never so little; for the time is come that ye must suffer. O {44} then! study to suffer cleanly, for that will be peace of conscience unto you in the end of the day.

And now, what think ye of yourselves that are not come to Christ yet? O! while it is yet time, come and seek acquaintance with him, and halt not between two opinions, do not rest on uncertainties, but seek to get it sure: And you who have your interest in Christ, I say, see that you know that you have it, and seek for more confirmation in it, and for more communion and fellowship with him, for in it is your life, in it is your rest, in it is your joy, and in it is your comfort: I say, in the knowledge of it you will find peace.

Now to him who can give you this assurance, and the confirmation of it, and peace therein, we desire to be found giving praise. Amen.


SERMON IV.

ISAIAH 8.17-18.

And I will wait on the Lord that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him: Behold I, and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel.
THE prophet, in the former part of this chapter, has been threatening the overthrow of the adversaries of Zion; he comes also to threaten sad judgments on the moderate lands, which they shall not be able to resist or escape from: And withal he serves an inhibition upon all the Lord's people, not to join with the decliners in an evil time; And for preventing their destruction, he exhorts them to sanctify the Lord of hosts in their hearts, and only make him their fear, and cleave close to him; and if they will do so, he promises to be a sanctuary to them: But all that join with the decliners in an ill time, he threatens their overthrow. But the prophet thinking these words would have no weight, except with a very few: Therefore he commands to seal up the law among my disciples; and then he hints at the duty of the godly in an ill time, and of their lot: Their duty is to wait on the Lord; I will wait on the Lord that hideth his face, &c. where he speaks of himself in the name of all the godly; and truly he tells what will be their lot who resolve to be waiters, {45} and it is this, They shall be signs and wonders in Israel. Now, he hints not only at the children begotten by his ministry, that they should be made signs and wonders among the ungodly and profane, but also the children who, by their abiding faithful, though mocked at, yet their abiding faithful should tie God to the church.

And then he warns them not to go to charmers, or dead dogs, but to the living and true God, to the law and to the testimony. He encourages them to go to God, and not to charmers; he threatens dreadful strokes on them who go to these charmers: They shall curse their king and look upward, and they shall receive no comfort from any of these whom they have followed. Now, in the text there is,

1. The sad case of the church of God, held out in these words, that God is said to hide his face from the house of Jacob.

2. Ye have the ordinary lot of the church of God in that case, they may expect to be made signs and wonders in Israel: to be gazed on, and mocked at: But there is a mitigation in these words, it is from me the Lord of hosts: As if he would say, seeing it is from the Lord of hosts, we ought to bear it the better.

3. Ye have in the words, the duty of the people of God under that sad lot, and that is to wait on the Lord till their sentence come from him, until he plead their causes and execute judgment for them.

DOCTRINE I. Many times it falls out to be the lot of the church of God, that he hides his face from them, Isa. 45.15, Truly thou art a God that hidest thyself.
This is often the complaint of the Lord's people in scripture. For clearing of the doctrine, I shall speak to these things:
  1. What is meant by the Lord's hiding his face.
  2. What be the causes why the Lord does so.
  3. Too, what is the duty of the people of God in that case when he hides his face.
I. Then, what is meant by the Lord's hiding of his face? For answer,

1. By hiding of his face is meant, the Lord's overlooking or seeming to stand aloof from noticing his people's case: Hence the psalmist complains, Why standest thou afar off, and how long wilt thou hide thyself?

2. By the Lord's hiding of his face is understood, the restraining of his Spirit in the ordinances, and keeping back his influences therefrom, when the word of the Lord has not that kindly effect and operation on hearts as it has had formerly, but their hearts are hardened from his fear: Hence the prophet complaineth, Why hast thou hardened our hearts from thy {46} fear? And it is just in beside that word, Where is the sounding of thy bowels?

3. By the Lord's hiding of his face, is meant, the Lord's restraining the spirit of prayer, Isa. 64.6, Our iniquities like the wind have taken us away, there is none that call upon thy name. We have not a heart to pray, and he gives the reason, For thou hidest thyself.

4. By the Lord's hiding of his face, is meant, the Lord's keeping up of his mind from his people. The Lord is doing strange things, but his people they complain; we see not our signs, there is not a prophet among us that knows how long. Psalm 74.19. And Job complains of this, that the Lord passes by on the right hand and on the left hand, and he could not take up what he was doing. I confess, when the Lord wraps up his mind in the public ordinances, it is the saddest of all the former ways that he hides his face.

II. A second thing for the clearing up of the doctrine, why it is that the Lord hides his face from his people. I confess it is hard to tell all the reasons the Lord may have; but it is very rare to see, neither can we say that the Lord hides his face from a whole land for their trial, though he may hide his face from a particular person for the trial of their faith; but not readily from a whole land but for the punishment of their sin, and that because there is no land so clean and upright, but the Lord may have many things against them: But the reasons I shall speak of, why it is that the Lord hides his face, are,

1. Sin separates between God and us. Many gross and grievous transgressions have filled this land and defiled it, so that the Lord has no more credit and honour by his people.

2. The Lord hides his face in the public ordinance, for the defect of the people in their approaching to God in them: There is hypocrisy and a defect in our frequenting ordinances, few come to hear with a resolution to practice what they hear, Micah 2.7, Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? do not my words do good to them that walk uprightly? If ye deal not deceitfully with God it will not be. Thence I give the reasons as particularly relating to the former cause of God's hiding of his face. But,

3. The Lord hides his face, in respect to the pouring out the spirit of prayer, because the Lord has not a mind to make haste to deliver the church: And I give this as a reason, because, Psalm 10.17, it is said, Thou wilt prepare their hearts, and incline thine ear to hear. Whenever the Lord has a mind to deliver a people, he uses to pour out the spirit of prayer.

4. The Lord hides his face, in order to the keeping up of his mind in the ordinances, that he may reduct his people to pure believing or nothing at all: For as long as we have a {47} guess whereaway God is going, it is easy to know where he will land: But when God hides his face, and we have no open vision as to his returning to the land, then try what thoughts ye have of God, or of his church and work in the land.

III. What is the duty of the Lord's people in that case when he hides his face?

1. His people will search and try their ways, and turn again to the Lord: This is thought a common truth, yet it is a good old truth. Many look for vain things to be done as their duty; but I assure you, till the land, and especially the godly in it, search and try what is the evil of their own ways, and turn from it, ye need never expect peace with God, or that he will be at peace with the land again: For this was the way that his people took of old, Lam. 3.40, Let us search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord. Therefore go, and take with the evil of your own ways and your own sin, or ye shall not see a sight of God in haste again: Yea more, if ye do not search and try your ways, vengeance will be upon the land.

2. When the Lord hides his face, it is the duty of all the godly to justify the Lord in all that he does, and to judge yourselves guilty, and lay aside your ornaments, and lie in the dust: Ye do not believe what weight it has to lay aside your braveries and sit in the dust before him: It is not a time now to busk with braveries when ye should sit in sackcloth; and ye would expect favour from God, therefore be humble before God: Many of you are ready to say, the king and nobles and ministers have the blame of what is in the land; but no man says, What have I done? but till every one look what he himself has done, and justify the Lord, and say that he hath done nothing contrary to the covenant, which is, If ye forsake him and break his law, he hath said, that he will chastise you with rods of men. I say, till ye do so, ye need not expect that your trouble will cease. Remember that it was told you in the name of the Lord; ye are ready to let this word pass by you lightly, but it shall find you out, and witness against you one day.

But thirdly, When God hides his face, it is the duty of his people to strengthen what remains; Is there any thing left? I pray you strengthen it: Go and take with you words, and though there be no more left but words, make use of these, and speak ye often one to another. Is prayer left you? I pray you ply it well: Can you pray better with others than your alone? then ply it well: And whatever duty ye can come best speed in, make it your care to go about it; whatever remains ye would strengthen that; it is the will of the Lord to do so, if ye do it not, ye know what is threatened, Rev. 3. {48} Strengthen what remains that is ready to die, for he threatens to come upon them as a thief unexpectedly or suddenly.

4. When the Lord hides his face, it is the duty of all his people (who doing the former three) then to wait on the Lord, and expect good from him to you and to the church; let Israel hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever: And that word, wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord with courage, reflect back upon the ground of hope ye had long since, and see what ground ye had more than now: Had ye hope of the thriving of the work of God when it was low before? then what grounds of hope want ye now that ye had then? Is armies gone? is the spirit of prayer gone? and shall the hope of Israel depend upon these things? in a few men in arms? and the blowing of the Spirit? This is all our hope, we had armies in the fields whose rottenness is too visible this day; and shall the ground of your hope and expectation be founded upon the blowing of the Spirit in prayer, which flowed more from the prosperity of armies and success in other things than in any thing else? Did not many of you say between God and you, that after Alaster MacDonald's days ye would no more be ashamed of your hope in God? and likewise in the duke's days; and also when the English did invade the land? Then why should ye be ashamed to hope in him now?

For Use, 1. I would ye were all convinced that God is hiding his face at this time. There is no doubt, some think, these are the best days that ever they saw, but dreadful is the case of such. Let not my soul enter surety. There be some that saith, The ark is returned out of the land of the Philistines. I shall say no more for confuting of the opinions of such, but this, I fear ye shall (ere all be done) miss in that ark the two principle things.

(1.) The two tables of the law written by the finger of God.

(2.) Aaron's rod blossoming.

2. When our covenanted God hides his face, then turn to God, and take with the evil of your ways.

3. Be serious in all the tittles of God's worship, and diligent in all these.

4. Wait on God and expect good from him, if ye do the former three.

DOCTRINE II. A second doctrine is, When God hides his face, then faithful ministers and their converts are for signs and wonders; so much saith the text, Behold I, and the children whom thou hast given me are for signs and wonders. David saith, I am a wonder to many, it is clear from scripture.
In speaking to this doctrine, I shall speak to these things: {49}
  1. That it is supposed that faithful honest ministers have some children begotten by their ministry in the work of the gospel.
  2. These children are the gift of God.
  3. There is a mutual interest between the two, to wit, the minister is the parent, and his converts are the children.
  4. It is ordinary for faithful men to be put first to the trial.
  5. Suffer the minister what he will, it is the ordinary lot of the honest minister and his converts to be both one, especially in being made signs and wonders in an evil time.
1. Then it is supposed that faithful ministers have converts ordinarily. When the Lord lights a candle there is great light. So when the Lord places an honest minister, there is some work there (though oftentimes they are few.)

2. These converts are ordinarily hid and obscure from some.

3. In the time of trial they appear who are children of that minister, for if they appear not in the time of trial, I have no skill of them.

4. These converts are the gift of God; and here ye would remember that a minister cannot convert any of himself, and therefore has little to boast of, or to glory in.

2. The people have not the minister to thank, they have none to thank but the great God for their conversion.

Yet, 3. It is their part and duty who are ministers to labour, as it were, in pain to see if they can be instruments in forming Christ in any whom they have the charge of.

4. There is a common interest between the minister and his converts, and that is,

(1.) In regard of spiritual things, they have one Lord, one faith, one baptism; and that word that edifies the people, edifies the minister also.

(2.) In regard of sympathy, what troubles the one, troubles the other also; and what makes the one sad, makes the other sad also; and when the minister rejoiceth, the convert rejoiceth also.

(3.) As to giving and taking, there is a mutual communion of things temporal, all things are, as it were, common, the one will not have, and the other want.

(4.) Take notice of this, that it is most ordinary for ministers that are most faithful, to be put first to suffering in an ill time, the reason is, because they are ordinarily most free in discharging of their duty in an ill time, and that lays them open to the malice of the adversary.

2. It comes to pass that these converts and children, begotten by his ministry may appear and be discovered who were obscure and hid before. {50}

3. It is because the Lord in his providence gives them a thorn in the flesh, lest they should be exalted above measure: and this comes to pass, to keep them humble: For, although the Lord has made them forth-coming for him, yet he exposes them to straits. Then it were good for all to judge oft-times as the Lord does. There is a time when God appears in the church openly, and shines on them, then they are honourable; and there is a time when God hides himself, and then they are miserable, they are then for signs and wonders.

But the last thing in the doctrine is, That ordinarily honest ministers and their converts share of one and the same lot, especially in being made signs and wonders.

1. They are noticed as strange and singular persons who trouble Israel.

2. They are made wonders, as they become the common discourse of the country, and of the time.

3. They are said to be signs, as to their entertainment. It usually gives a proof of the temper of the time; according as they are dealt with, men may judge of the goodness and badness of the time.

4. They are for signs, as to their deportment and carriage, it is a clear proof and sign that may be looked for on the church: His people they are to take God for their party in an ill time. Whence ye would consider, that there is nothing falls out to the people of God, but that which is according to the determinate purpose of God; there cannot one hair fall from their head without his providence. Hence it is said, They have done to thy Son Jesus, according to thy determinate purpose, Acts 4.27,28, and no more they could do.

1. He had thoughts of peace towards his people, come more what will, Jer. 29.11, I know the thoughts that I think towards you.—Thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you an unexpected end: Seeing the Lord has thoughts of peace towards his people, then it says, He doth not willingly afflict his people; therefore they are to search out the ends and cause of affliction.

2. The thing falls out according to the purpose of God; the instruments are not the less guilty, and shall not escape judgment in due time: Yet it concerns all the people of God to take him as their party, and to study to have him on their side, for it is the great work that the people of God have to do.

Then for Use, 1. This should compose and quiet the hearts of the people of God much, so that more or less cannot be done, nor [than] what God hath determined.

2. Fix in your hearts the faith of this, That he hath thoughts of peace towards you. Get me the man or the woman that hath chosen him as their treasure hid in the field, and has reckoned {51} him as the pearl of price, and valued him at the highest rate; they may wait for peace according to the word, Zech. 6.13, And he shall sit and rule upon his throne, and he shall be a Priest upon his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both, or between them two. What two? to wit, the offices of Christ as King and Priest settled and fixed, and the peace of the people between them, so that as he can no more remove these two offices of Christ, neither can the peace of his people be removed, for they are alike sure fixed.

3. Lay aside your passion at men, go and secure your interest in God, get him on your side, or all is in vain. Man is not your party, but the Lord God Almighty.

DOCTRINE III. A third doctrine is, Let God hide himself as he will, he is ay hid within doors: For here it is said, The stroke is from the Lord who dwelleth in mount Zion, he hath his abode there. Hence,
1. We would remember that the Lord dwells not in his church, as one not concerned nor afflicted with her case: No, no, he is ever mindful of all her concerns, and these that touch his people, touch the apple of his eye: He is concerned in the good or ill that befalls his people.

2. As long as God dwells among his people, he hath some work to work amongst them, he is not there without work.

3. Though it be true that he be in the church, yet he is not tied to any particular church in the world since the days of Israel: He engaged himself to the people of Israel till the Messiah came, and he has engaged himself to return again unto them.

4. Though it be so that he be not engaged to any particular church, yet there is some church has more ground to expect his abode than others, which I take to be Britain and Ireland; and that for these grounds and presumptions:

(1.) Because I take Britain and Ireland to be a part of the ends of the earth that was given to Christ, Psalm 2, but besides this, that this is the very parcel of ground he intended for that end and use; for the Lord did take possession in these lands beyond any land since the apostles days.

(2.) These lands have sworn themselves away to the Lord, most solemnly, signally, and frequently: Seven times has Scotland been sworn away to the Lord, in little more than the space of an hundred years. Wherein I grant these covenants have been broken, for which the Lord has plagued these lands: And as there has been no breach of covenant formerly like this; so I think no plague has come like that which we may expect yet: Seeing there is a party in the land who adhere to these covenants, and have given testimony for them; and that party is counted of God for a generation or holy seed and {52} substance of the land: Then God and these will not shed yet, if they abide by these covenants.

A second presumption, That God will not part with his interest in Scotland, England, and Ireland, is this, That there was no land wherein the work of God was at so high a pitch since the apostles’ days. And do ye think that the Lord will overthrow that work? I think not.

A third presumption is this, That according to the words of the text we presume to say, the Lord is in his kirk in Britain and Ireland; and that is a good token yet, that he will help us, and that right early. The Lord is yet amongst us.

Then for Use, 1. We are a part of the church of God, seeing there is so much of the true ordinances amongst us.

2. Seeing God is in the church, then he is not far off; if ye will seek well, seek him therefore seriously, for he is willing to be found.

3. Though God be not absolutely tied to any particular church since the days of Israel; yet from the foresaid presumptions we are not without hope that God will yet abide amongst us, and will help us, and that right early.

DOCTRINE IV. A fourth doctrine is, That when a people is shaken out of all confidence, then their duty is to wait on God. And that,
1. Because we are commanded so to do: Wait on the Lord is often commanded.

2. Ye would wait on the Lord, because of the promise that is annexed to those that wait on him, they shall never be ashamed.

3. To wait on the Lord, is the most quieting and composing posture one can light on in an ill time, it is good to hope and quietly to wait on the Lord.

4. Wait on the Lord, for it has been the work of the people of God in the days of old. Psalm 130, My soul waits for the Lord, more than those who wait for the morning.

5. To wait on the Lord has always a joyful issue, Isa. 43, Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, we will rejoice in him. But that ye may know when it is your duty to wait only upon the Lord, I shall in the next place show you,

  1. What precedes or goes before waiting.
  2. What it is to wait, or what waiting does import.
  3. What follows waiting upon the Lord.
First then, The thing which goes before waiting, and the duty itself is holden out in this chapter, Say not a confederacy to whom this people shall say a confederacy, that is, let not their words make you afraid, but only sanctify the Lord of hosts, in your hearts, that is, only be afraid for angering God. But,

2. Consider there is a promise held out to such as make God their fear, verse 14, He shall be for a sanctuary to you. But, {53}

3. There is a sad threatening pronounced on the common multitude who joined with the time, and declined therein, He will be a stone of stumbling to them: For in that foresaid 14th verse, it is but a promise held out to these that walk aright, and a threatening against them that comply and go wrong in an ill time. Then,

4. There follows a wrapping up of the law or ordinances among Christ's disciples, or the people of God for a while. And next there follows the duty of waiting, which imports,

1. A terminating of the heart with an expectation only on God for their help, and none else, as Psalm 63.5, My soul, wait thou only upon God, and upon no other thing; and it is like that word, Psalm 60.11, Give us help from trouble, for vain is the help of man.

2. To wait on God, imports this too, That their expectation is more on God himself, than any other thing, they expect that he will do for them by any created mean: God can give you means, but, and ye get not himself, it is no matter what ye get: He might send back your ministers to you for a plague, and not for a mercy: Therefore plead for himself with them, and be peremptory, and say, and thou go not with us, Lord, take us not hence, but slay us all here. So I say, ye would plead more for the presence of God, than for any means under heaven.

3. To wait on God, imports a submitting to the seasons of outgate, and the lot and the ordering of it; and all that concerns you under trial.

4. To wait upon God, imports a present resolution to abide at their duty of waiting, ay and while [until] he shew what else they should do; for waiting on God is still your duty when ye are in the dark, and can use no means for your own relief.

5. These things follow on waiting, as it is clear from the text here.

1. Resolve to be for signs and wonders in Israel; and once ye turn waiters on God, ye must resolve to be persecuted, mocked, imprisoned, banished, and reproached.

2. There is great temptation follows waiting on God.

3. There will be few public men left to preach the gospel, or to consult with in that dark time: He says, to the law and to the testimony. Ye must make use of your bibles instead of your ministers.

4. The manifest vengeance of God shall be on them that go wrong, that shall be their lot, who are in opposition to the work and people of God.

Then for Use, 1. Hear your duty and work in a dark time, go and wait on God, and pretend no ignorance; say not, What shall I do? I say, Wait on the Lord, and judge yourselves happy {54} that the thing which is your duty, men cannot take it from you except they take your life.

2. Resolve to have temptations under that lot to cause you to go wrong: Therefore study to be clear in your judgment of the honesty of Christ's cause; and for that end, be well acquainted with the scriptures, and ye will see your duty there.

And lastly, Believe this, that the wrath of God abides the wicked, and these that go astray from him; and all that they took pleasure in before shall be made to forsake them, or be embittered to them in that day, when the waiters on God shall come to the enjoyment of these things that they waited for.

Let us pray, &c.