We stopped at one church in the highlands of Scotland formerly pastored by Rev. Thomas Hog (1628-1692). Despite the unfortunate last name, Hog was a faithful evangelical pastor in the best sense of the term. Below is his tombstone, situated at the foundation of the church's front entrance.
The inscription reads: "This stone shall bear witness against the parishioners of Kiltearn if they bring ane ungodly minister in here."
In a generation or so after Hog's death, an unfaithful minister took charge of the congregation. In a further generation or so, the Lord removed the lampstand from that place (Rev. 2:5). The church is now a ruin in the midst of a country churchyard. May unbelief not keep us from taking seriously our Lord's words in Rev. 2:5!
I pray that my ministry--however long or short--would be a stone of witness for the supremacy of Jesus and the glory of the gospel and against ministerial unfaithfulness in all her varied forms. I pray that everywhere a faithful pastor stands and labors there an Ebenezer is raised, and the congregations of their charge take seriously their responsibility for safeguarding the gospel and calling men of sober, holy, and joyfully reverent character.
How horrible it is when the Lord's bride forsakes her first love! He surely holds that against her (Rev. 1:4). What a great height from which to fall (Rev. 1:5)! The sound of cracked and crushed bones from such a fall is eternally deafening.
The Christian world's love for novelty and fad, for ease and comfort, for popularity and influence, for entertainment and play, for riches and monuments conspires against her, and eases her ever so surely toward irrelevance and destruction, toward the crypt and rigamortis of worldliness. In so many places, Christians are, as C.S. Lewis put it, "men without chests." We are, in too many cases, phantoms rather than rock-solid, rock-ribbed, living girders and pillars holding forth the Truth.
Jesus calls us to repent and return to our first love (Rev. 1:5b) wherever unfaithfulness exists, being fearful that anyone should ever stand over the heaped ruin of our lives and ministries. Better that we be like Thomas Hog:
- Scottish divine ; M.A. Marischal College, Aberdeen;
- minister of Kiltearn, 1654-1661 and 1691-2;
- deposed as protester, 1661;
- imprisoned for keeping conventicles;
- fined and banished, 1684.
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (Rev. 1:7).