A Pastor’s Love for His People
Thomas Lye preached this sermon in 1662, on the last Sunday he was legally permitted to in the pulpit prior to the Great Ejection. The sermon is printed in the Banner of Truth, Sermons of the Great Ejection.
The tension of the day is hinted at when Lye makes mention of those who were present at his sermon to see if he would transgress some law: “If there are any wicked catchers here, let them know that I shall speak no more than I shall draw form and is the mind of my text; I would not give occasion to be a greater sufferer than I am likely to be.”
His text was Philippians 4:1, “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”
Lye notes that Paul, although an apostle and thus holding as great as office as one could have held in the church (after Christ), calls these saints his “brothers”. He then notes how Peter and James and John also call fellow Christians “brother”.
The application of this fact is that there should be no “lording over” (1 Peter 5:3), but rather to be a leader is to be one who serves others. Luke 22:25-26. Lye speaks to his congregation, “I hope your consciences will bear me witness that I have laboured, as much as lies in me, to be a helper of your joy, not to lord it over your faith (2 Cor. 1:24), nor to press or cause you to believe this or that simply because I believe it.”
There should be no conflict in the church, because we are brothers. And to this he gives a warning:
The officers of Christ should behave themselves as to never give their people occasion to say, We are brethren to dragons.
If the work is done rightly, if they see one-another as they ought, the pastor must love the congregation; the congregation, the pastor. The pastor must never be the sort of man who decides upon his place of ministry by thinking, How much will this pay? What sort of prestige will this give me.
Lye then gives a defense as to why he and his fellow Puritans refused to submit to the Act of Uniformity:
Brethern, I could do very much for the love I bear to you, but I dare not sin. I know they will tell you that this is pride and peevishness in us, and that we are tender of our reputation, and we would fain all be bishops and forty things more; but the Lord be witness between them and us in this…I am sensible of what it is to be reduced to a morsel of bread. Let the God of heaven and earth do what he will to me. If I could have subscribed with a good conscience, I would; I would do anything to keep myself in the work of God, but to sin against my God I dare not.