« ÖncekiDevam »
the last Sabbath save one before my removal. And this day I preached, out of one of the barn-doors, to a great multitude of people, my farewell-fermon, on John vii. 37, “ In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood « and cried, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, 66 and drink.” And as the Lord was with me in that place during my ministry there, so he left me not then, but was with me at that clofe.of it, and much of God's power appeared in it. On the Tuesday we came away, and arrived at Etterick on the Thursday thereafter. Thus I parted with a people whose hearts were knit to me, and mine to them ; nothing but the sense of God's command that took me there, making me to part with them. The three or four last years of my ministry there were much blessed, and very comfortable to me; not in respect of my own handful only, who were ordinarily but about ninety examinable persons, but others of the coun, try-lide.
During the time of my ministry in Simprin, I had frequent occasions of aflifting at facraments; infomuch that I observed, for fome years I was still abroad three Sabbaths together, on such occafions, at one time ; befides other occasions, which allowed some intermission. Mean while I never liked to be even so employed, but where there was need : and if I found none, I would either not have gone, or else returned home to my own charge ; and that upon this principle, That though it was a small charge, yet it was my charge ; and that I was not to look to be useful, according to the number of those I spoke to, but according to the call of God to speak unto them, whether many or few. And I never, that I know, had occation to rue that part of my conduct. I remember, I once came home, and left the communion at Fogo, on that principle: and I got a feast in the pulpit of Simprin, in the evening-exercise, on the 23d pfalm, as I think. And upon occasion of my being urged on that head, that it would me more for
my own edification to be present at fuch a folemnity, I was brought to take notice, that according to the scripture, 1 Cor. xiv. 4. 5. one is to prefer the edification of the church to his own private edification.
Now by means of my going so much abroad to facraments, and having that ordinance twice a-year at home, I had frequent occasion of converse with persons exerci(cd about their own spiritual case; the which was a great
help help to me in preaching. It was to such a conversation with a gentlewoman as the means, that I owed the sermon preached at Swinton, Sabbath afternoon, July 28. 1706, being the day of the communion there. The text being Lam. iii. 49. 50.
“ Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermiflion : till the Lord look “ down, and behold from heaven;" the fermon not only had more than ordinary weight on the people, but two ministers present made feeling acknowledgements of it. But the sweet scene of these days was quickly after turned into a gloomy one.
As I behoved to have some Hebrew for my trials, both former and latter, fo in Simprin I made fome progress in the ftudy thereof. Having always an inclination towards it, I believe I did several times, while there, attempt it; but with little success, having only an old Pfalter and Pagnin's Lexicon, that had been gifted to me by Andrew Elliot, my comrade at the college, till in the year 1704 I got Buxtorf's Epitome grammat. and his Lexicon. After which time, I reckon, I did with much difficulty make my way through the Psalter. And, by fome notes I have on the Psalms, I find I began it again, having Bethner's Lyrc in loan. But still my study of it was confined to the Pfalter.
Upon whatever occasion I understood there was any motion for, or eye to, the removing me out of that place to another, I was helped of God to be scrupulously wary, that I might do nothing towards the advancing of the fame'; being always persuaded, that my fafety, welfare, and comfort, depended on my being found in the way, which the Lord himself should call me to go. The stipend was indeed small ; and toward the latter end, the victual was cheap to a degree : but then my house-rents in Dunse, and the emoluments of the synod-clerk's office, were considerable towards the maintenance of the family. And in these days several came about us, and particularly some students continued with us at times ; so that we ate not our morsel alone. But whatever was our manner, when we were alone, or only with thote we counted not strangers, I observed, that when occasionally we had company otherwise, things honest in the fight of men were readily, by the kind disposal of Providence, laid to hand. And during the time of my continuance in that place, I knew little of anxiety for the provision of my family after me. And I am very fure, it was not a more liberal maintenance, but a sense of the divine call, that moved me to leave Simprin, and come to Etterick.
Thus passed the first and most comfortable years of my miniftry in Simprin, as in a field which the Lord had bleffed. Removing from thence with my family, as I have related above, on Tuesday June 17. we came, on Thursday the 19th, unto Etterick ; where, through the mercy of God, I have continued unto this day. On the first Lord's day after the transportation of my family, being June 22, I preached on Acts x. 33.
« Now - - are we all here pre« sent before God, to hear all things that are commanded $ thee of God *."
From my removal to Etterick, to the oath of abjuration re.
BEing fettled here, I foon found I was come from home,
and that I was but beginning to be a minister of a parish. As for the people, the natives, generally speaking, were naturally smart, and of an uncommon afsurance ; self-conceited, and censorious to a pitch, using an indecent freedom both with church and state. There were three parties in the place. One of diffenters, followers of Mr John Macmillan, a confiderable number; who have been all along unto this day a dead weight on my ministry in the place ; though not so great now, by far, as in former years. Another was an heritor in the parish, with two elders dependents of his. He himself de. ferted the ordinances, for about the space of the first ten years, viz. till the affair of Closeburn. One of the elders having heard a little while, went off for altogether to the diffenters. The other, for ought I know, never heard me after I was settled among them. The third was the congregation of my hearers, under the disadvantage of what influence these two parties could have upon them. Their appetite for the ordinances I did not find to be Sharpened by the long fast they had got, for about the space of four years. Wherefore, soon perceiving the little
This fermon is inserted in the author's Body of Divinity, vol. 3. published in 1773
value they had for occasions of hearing the gospel, and having called a meeting for business, on a week-day, Aug. 19. I preached to them, that day, the sense I had of their case, from If. xliii. 22. “Thou hast been weary “ of me, O Ifrael.” I plainly faw, that a brother, who, at the synod which transported me, was overheard to bid let me go, I would get preaching my fill there, was far out. On the contrary, I behoved to bid farewell to a pleasant part of my exercise of that nature before ; and to have it miferably slighted and despised, where occafionally I was called to it. And for the Sabbaths sermons, they were but coldly enough received: but remarkable was the pricking up of cars, when any thing relative to the public fell in ; which was a wounding observe to me.
To the breeding and cherishing of this difpofition among them, several things concurred. There being little knowledge of religion among them, till the time of confusion and persecution ; fo that John Andison in Gamefcleugh told me of a time, when there was not a Bible in the church, but the minister's, his father's, and another's; they drank in the principles of Presbytery in the greatest height, with the principles of Christianity. The dirsenters were in great reputation among them, and contimually buzzing in their ears something to the disparagement of the church and the ministry. Moreover, the union with England, which they were violently set against, trysted with my settling among them, and brought in an unacceptable change of the state of affairs. And finally, they lived alone.
A profeflion of religion generally obtained among them, through the preaching of the persecuted ministers in and about the place. Before the Revolution, they were generally made Presbyterians, praying perfons, and feve. ral of them, I believe, good Christians. Often I observed, that I had never seen in a country-kirk more Bibles than appeared in ours ; nor more persons giving in to the Sabbaths collection for the poor. And indeed they were, and are, very liberal to the poor, both their own, and strangers palling among them ; but very unkind to stran. gers fettling among them, and not very benevolent in neighbourhood among themselves. But one thing I was particularly surprised with, viz. the prevalency of the fin of profané swearing; and was amazed to find blefling and curfing proceeding out of the same mouth. praying per
sons, and praying in their families too, horrid swearers at times: so that by the month of November I behoved to set myself to preach directly against that fin*.
The very next day after my preaching from Acts x. 33 as above related, Mr Macmillan came to Elkdale, and some of my hearers went to him. This was what I got to begin with. On the morrow after I went up to S. to fee J. L.'s family and others : my design was to endeavour to prevent their perverting others. When I came there, I went first into the house of one of my hearers; and there I was surprised with the news of Mr Macmillan's being in J. L's, and others with him. The old man came in to
If. L. came into that house, but never noticed me ; but I carried courteously to her, and told her I had a mind to have come and seen them. She told me, I should be welcome. When I went in, J. L. Mhewed not common civility. I was fet down among three men, strangers, none of whom I knew. They were S. H. of H. Mr St. and Mr Sm. The last I took for Mr Macmillan, having never seen the man. Being fet down, I was resolved to divert disputes, at least a while, with some discourse of practical godliness. Wherefore being alked, " What
news ? ' I said, that news were hard to be got here, the piace being so far remote from towns ; that it was like Jerusalem, Pfal. cxxv. 2. ; which brought us at length to the discourse of communion with God; concerning which S. H. gave his opinion, that it confitted in doing the will of God, and keeping his commandments. I told him, that all communion was mutual, and therefore it could not consist in that; and shewed, that actual communion with God, which we ordinarily call communion with God, consists in the Lord's letting down the influences of his grace on the soul, and the soul's reacting the faine in the exercise of grace. O, says he, that is extraordinary ; wherewith I was stunned. I told him, it was that without which neither he nor I would be saved. How will you prove inat ? says he. So I was put to prove it to him. Thereafter he brought in the matter of the feparation ; told, that he underitood I was an enemy to them,
• The text of these sermons was Marth v. 34.-37. He afterwards preached on the fame fubject in 1714, from the third commandment, the explication of which is in his Body of Divinity, vol. 2.; and a third time in 1724, from James v 12. published in his Distingeisling characters of true belicvers, printed in 1773.