I recently picked up a second-hand copy of Christ and the Inheritance of the Saints – a collection of sermons by the nineteenth century minister Thomas Guthrie.
Although in more than one place the sermons in this volume are perhaps too elaborate in their rhetoric for my taste – settling down to read it, the first several pages made me wonder if it was such a great purchase after all – there are also some passages which present the truths of the gospel in a powerful and striking way, and apparently in his own lifetime he was one of the most popular preachers in the country.
This is an excerpt from an (undated) sermon on Colossians 1 v 14.
“To a man nigh unto death, who is labouring under some known and deadly malady, offer a medicine which has virtue to cure him, and he will buy it at any price; in his eyes the drug is worth all the gold on earth. But offer that, which he seizes, to one who believes himself to be in good and perfect health, and he holds it cheap.
Just so, and for a similar reason, the Saviour and his redemption are slighted, despised, and rejected by many. They have no adequate conception of their lost state as sinners, nor feel, therefore, their need of salvation. The first work, accordingly, of God’s Holy Spirit in conversion is to rouse man from the torpor which the poison of sin – like that of a snake infused into his veins, produces; to convince him of his guilt, and make him sensible of his misery. And blessed the book, blessed the preacher, blessed the providence that sends that conviction into our hearts, and lodges it, like a barbed arrow, there. For to an awakened and alarmed conscience, how welcome the Saviour!
Let a man, who felt secure, see himself to be in great danger, discover that he is a poor, polluted, perishing sinner, lost, under sentence of death, deserving the wrath of God, separated from hell only by a crust of earth … ah! he understands the import of the words, ‘Unto you therefore who believe, he is precious.'”
Thomas Guthrie was in some way descended from the Covenanter James Guthrie (whose cousin William Guthrie wrote The Christian’s Great Interest). A friend of Thomas Chalmers and Robert Murray McCheyne, he took a great interest in poor relief and other philanthropic ventures and was heavily involved in the Disruption of 1843. His statue on Princes Street shows him with presumably an orphan child under one arm and an open bible in the other, neither of which comes out terribly clearly from the angle I took the picture at, but at least the inscription should be relatively legible.
Thomas Guthrie DD
Preacher — Philanthropist