In a world constantly seeking the retreating mirage of satisfaction in the things of this life we need to know where to find true spiritual satisfaction. Samuel Rutherford said that seeking such satisfaction in this world is like digging into cold ice expecting to discover warm fire. Spiritual satisfaction is in Christ and what He has done alone. As Calvin put it: “The whole of God is found in him, so that he who is not satisfied with Christ alone, desires something better and more excellent than God.” Not to be satisfied with Christ involves “detracting from the glory of God, by desiring something above his perfection”. They are “ungrateful” who “seek elsewhere what they already have in Christ”. It is vital therefore to rest in this satisfaction. How can we assure ourselves that we are those who are only satisfied in Christ?
This is a question that Thomas Hog of Kiltearn (1628–1692) sought to answer for the benefit of others. He does not give an exhaustive but rather a helpful and suggestive answer. The eleven observations he makes are worth pondering further and comparing with Scripture and our own experience. Hog was imprisoned several times including on the Bass Rock. Here he had some time for prayerful reflection as he suffered for Christ. These points have been transcribed from a manuscript in the National Library of Scotland with a little updating of the language.
Marks of those who, being lost in themselves, are fit for the consolations of Christ
1. They will acknowledge and not extenuate sin.
2. No earthly comforts can satisfy.
3. Searching sermons are most acceptable and searching Scripture texts are most sweet.
4. No creature can satisfy (no not even an angel) until Christ Himself comes.
5. They all think that they themselves are the chief of sinners.
6. They would take peace with God without all external comfort, indeed they would take Christ with all external crosses and troubles.
7. The least relationship to Christ and benefit from Him will be more sweet and acceptable than to be in any relation but His.
8. The least appearance of opening a door of mercy humbles and melts the heart more than any other thing.
9. They do not doubt Christ’s power, but because of their unworthiness as to whether He will have mercy.
10. All earthly contempt and crosses [trials] are thought light and easily borne. The saddest afflictions are thought nothing in comparison of their [formerly] lost condition.
11. They will not be content with peace without grace, with justification without sanctification.
About Thomas Hog of Kiltearn
Hog was a Highlander who also ministered in Ross-shire. Forced to leave his congregation in 1662, he moved to Auldearn near Nairn, where he continued to minister in private. In 1668 he was imprisoned for some time for preaching at “illegal meetings” or conventicles.
After his release he continued to preach but was arrested in 1677 and imprisoned in the Bass Rock. This is a very high rock in the sea off the Scottish coast which was purchased by the government expressly for imprisoning presbyterian ministers. When he sought release due to his poor health Archbishop Sharp had him put in the lowest and worst dungeon in the place. Yet his health recovered in these circumstances.
After a later release he had further periods of imprisonment until he was banished from Scotland in 1684. In 1691 he was able to return to the parish of Kiltearn but only for one year. He was buried underneath the threshold of the church door. He also requested the following inscription: ‘This stone shall bear witness against the parishioners of Kiltearn if they bring an ungodly minister in here.’