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Some days after Mr Hamilton's death, I wrote for it, according to his direction, and had it sent to me accordingly. And that same authentic copy, written, as I was told, by Mr Guthrie's own hand, goes to the press. The only reason of its lying so long in obscurity beside me, is the throng of other work which necessarily devolved upon me in this place, after the loss of my brother colleague, still intending, when time allowed, to say something by way of preface. But the same strait continuing upon me, I am obliged, after all, through the importunate cries of many who have heard of it, to let it go with saying little or nothing. Only I regard it as a piece of honour put upon me in holy providence, not only to be the unworthy successor of that great man, but the publisher of the last sermon that ever he preached in the pulpit of Stirling, where it is my desire, the same testimony of Jesus, for which he suffered unto death, may be maintained unto the latest posterity.
What may be in the womb of this providence of the resurrection of Mr Guthrie's last sermon in Stirling after it has been so long buried with himself in the dust and rubbish, God only knows, and time must discover; only, considering the way of its resurrection and conveyance, it looks like a cry from the dead to the whole land; but in a particular manner, to the congregation of Stirling, upon whose watch-tower it was delivered.
I have thought the manner of the conveyance of this sermon to public view at this time of day, one of the curious links of the great chain of Divine Providence. The Rev. Mr Alex. Hamilton when he was but a youth at the College of Edinburgh, from a just regard he had to the memory of Mr Guthrie, and the cause in which he suffered, was excited, at the peril of his life, to take down with his own hand Mr Guthrie's head from the Netherbow Port of Edinburgh, where it had stood as a public spectacle for about twentyseven or twenty-eight years. The very same person is ordered thirty-eight years thereafter to succeed him in the ministry, and uphold his testimony in the pulpit of Stirling
for the space of twelve years. And although a good many ministers, both of the Presbyterian and Episcopal persuasion, had possessed the Manse of Stirling* since the death of Mr Guthrie; yet none of them are directed to discover his farewell sermon in Stirling, until the same hand is employed, which was honoured to take down his head, and to give it a decent and honourable burial.
I make no doubt but the above remark will appear whimsical and contemptible, as well as the sermon itself, in the eyes of a generation of men in our day, who are wise in their own eyes; but whatever may be the sentiments of men, whose "minds the god of this world hath blinded;" yet the work of the Lord is honourable and glorious, and will “be sought out of all them that take pleasure therein. Whoso is wise, and observeth these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord." But how awful is the certification to those who shut their eyes and ears against the appearances of God in his providential dispensations! "Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operations of his hand, he shall destroy them, and not build them up," (Psal. xxviii. 5).
As some have been longing and crying for the publication of this sermon, so I am apt to believe some others will wish, that it and the other papers of the worthy author which came along with it, had been buried in silence for ever. Neither needs this appear strange. His testimony when alive, tormented the men who then dwelt upon earth to that degree, as to stone this great Seer in Israel, and afterward to imbrue their hands in his blood. And, therefore, it cannot be very easy or pleasant to those who are treading in the same steps, by attempting the burial of that cause and work of reformation for which he suffered martyrdom, to hear his voice
*This fabric, noted for being the residence of so many great and good men, distinguished in the history of our National Church, has lately become ruinous, and is now taking down. Such is the instability of earthly things; "But the righteous shall be had in everlasting remem. brance."-Note in the Edition of 1824.
crying from under the altar, or his dying testimony again staring them openly in the face.
I make no doubt to say, it was the testimony of Jesus for which this faithful martyr, Mr James Guthrie, suffered. What that testimony was, will partly cast up from the following papers, all of them compiled by him when drawing nigh to eternity. The sermon was preached 19th August 1660, and he imprisoned the Thursday thereafter. His paper entitled, Considerations anent the Danger of Religion, and the Work of Reformation, &c. was published by himself that very same year. The third paper is his speech upon the scaffold the year following. By these and his other papers and contendings, contained in Mr Wodrow's History, he being dead, yet speaketh unto the living. And it will be easy for the judicious and serious reader, to discern who are in our day bearing up, and who are bearing down, and burying the cause for which he contended unto blood.
That the same Spirit of God, and of glory, which enabled the worthy author of the following papers to contend unto death, for the royal prerogatives of his great Master, the only Head, King, and Lawgiver of his Church, may, in the perusal of the following testimonies, enter into the soul of every reader, is the prayer and desire of him who is thine in the work of the gospel of Christ Jesus,
Stirling, 14th Aug. 1738.
"And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
"And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray; and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
"But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary."-MATT. XIV. 22–25.
It is of purpose, and choice, in reference to the condition and trial of these times, we have resolved, through the Lord's assistance, to speak somewhat of this piece of trial, and of the storm wherewith the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ were exercised at sea ; and the rather we have chosen to speak somewhat of these words, because they were the choice of a very precious and worthy man, to speak of in a day of trial; I mean, of that eminent servant of God, John Knox, whom the Lord did help to be a most eminent instrument of the work of reformation in the Church. We shall not much stand on any particular unfolding of the branches of the text, but take these as they lie in order. The thing we desire you first to look to, is, how the story that is recorded in these verses, is knit with these that go before, for we will find them knit together by many of the evangelists, viz., the story of the glorious miracles wrought by Jesus Christ the Lord, in feeding so many thousands of people with a few loaves, and a few little fishes; after this, that sad trial which the disciples met with at sea. They are knit together by the evangelists Matthew, Mark, and John. After that the Lord Jesus Christ had preached to the people and his disciples, and had fed many thousands with a few loaves, and a few fishes, and had manifested much of his power and glory, “He constrains his disciples to get into a ship,
and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitude away." He sends his disciples to the sea, and the multitude away, that they should not for a season hear any more of his doctrine, and see any more of his miracles.
That we may lay a foundation for somewhat for your edification, First, It may be inquired, why it is that he sends away both his disciples and the multitude at that time, and would have an interruption of his doctrine and miracles, when he sends his disciples to the sea, and the multitude to their own homes? If we look to the other evangelists, we will find the causes there enough, (Mark vi. 52); the cause is given there, why he thus exercised his disciples, "for they considered not the miracle of the loaves, for their hearts were hardened." Albeit, the Lord Jesus Christ had revealed much of his power and glory in the miracle of the loaves, yet his disciples did not duly consider thereof. Therefore he would needs exercise them with a storm, and a tempest at sea, that they might both be taught in the knowledge of their own weakness, and also might be better schooled in the faith of his power and glory. The reason why he sent the multitude away," is set down in the gospel written by John, vi. 26. When the multitude comes again, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." Compare it with that in the 15th verse, "When Jesus Christ therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone." He knew that for all that they had seen and heard of his word and miracles, they were of a very carnal disposition, and seeking to establish to themselves carnal prosperity and peace, therefore he sent them away for a time.
From the connection of these two histories, and from the scope of the whole, we offer you one point of doctrine; that the Lord Jesus Christ is ofttimes, and ordinarily pleased, after special manifestations of his power and glory in his church, and amongst his people, to exercise them with