The following was the conclusion of a sermon by Thomas Watson
on the eve of his ejectment from the rectorship of St. Stephens,
Walbrook, England, when the Act of Uniformity went into effect
on August 24, 1662. (This Act of Uniformity resulted in
"the ejection of Anglican clergymen who failed to comply with
its terms--and were forced out of the Church of England, schools,
and universities. Approximately 2,000 ministers were ejected.")
The most glorious morning hath its evening; the hour is come wherein
the sun is setting upon not a few of the prophets; the shadows of the
evening are stretched forth upon us; our day draws, our work seems to
be at an end. Our pulpits and places must know us no more. This is
the Lord's doing, let all the earth keep silence before him.
It is not a light thing for me, brethren, to be laid aside from the work,
and cast out of the vineyard of the Lord; and it must be something of
weight that must support under so severe a doom I know there are not
a few that will add to the affliction of the afflicted, by telling the world it
is their own fault, they might prevent it if they would. Whether this be so
or no, God knoweth, and let the Lord be judge. Blessed be God, whatever
be, this is not laid to our charge as the reason of our exclusion either
insufficiency or scandal!
You are not ignorant what things there are imposed on us, as the condition
of our continuing our ministration; which how lawful and expedient soever
they seem in the judgment of many, yet have the most specious arguments that
plead for them, left me utterly dissatisfied in my conscience about them. I
must profess before God, angels, and men, that my non-submission is not
from any disloyalty to authority, nor from pride, humour, or any factious
disposition, or design; but because I dare not contradict my light, nor do
any thing concerning which my heart tells me, the Lord says, do it not.
After all my most impartial inquiries,—after all my seeking counsel from
the Lord,—after all my considering, and consulting with men of all persuasions
about these matters,—I find myself so far short of satisfaction, that I am plainly
put to this choice, to part with my ministry or my conscience. I dare not lie
before God and the world; nor come and tell you, I approve, I allow, I heartily
consent, to what I neither do nor can; but must choose rather, that my ministry
be scaled up by my sufferings, than lengthened out by a lie, through the grace
of God, though men do, yet my heart shall not reproach me while I live. "If
our heart condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knoweth all things."
But however, though I must now no longer act as a minister, I shall, through the
grace of God, endeavour peaceably, and patiently, to suffer as a Christian. I
should, to testify my obedience to authority, have become all things to all men,
to the uttermost that I could, with any clearness of heart: but since matters
stand so, I must lose my place, or my peace, I cheerfully suffer myself to be
thrust off the stage.
And now welcome the cross of Christ,—welcome reproach,—welcome
poverty, scorn and contempt, or whatever else may befall me on this account!
This morning I had a flock, and you had a pastor; but now, behold a pastor
without a flock,—a flock without a shepherd! This morning I had an house, but
now I have none! This morning I had a living, but now I have none! "The Lord
hath given, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
Beloved, I am sensible of many weaknesses and disadvantages I am under,
which may render a suffering state the harder to be borne; help me by your
prayers, and not me only, but all my brethren also, with whom my lot must fall;
"Pray for us: for we trust that we have a good conscience, in all things willing to
live honestly." Pray,
1. That God would make our silence speak, and preach the same holy doctrine
that we have preached with our lips.
2. That he would give supports answerable to our sufferings; that he who
comforteth those that are cast down, will also comfort his servants that are cast out.
3. That, according to our earnest expectation, and our hope, as always, so now
also, Christ may be magnified in us, whether it be by life or by death.
And thus, brethren, I bid you all farewell, in the words of the apostle, 2 Cor. 13:11,
"Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in
peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." "And the God of peace,
that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work
to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus
Christ; to whom be glory, for ever and ever. Amen."